New Hub Supporting Game Developers Opens At Surrey Research Park

2018-07-17T11:35:24+00:00

Rocketdesk, run by entrepreneurs Ben Ward and Neil Johnston, will provide a space for game students and professionals to “rent a desk, hang out and come to events”.

A new hub aimed at supporting game developers has opened its doors at the Surrey Research Park.

The idea behind Rocketdesk is to provide developers, as well as music composers, video editors, and websites builders, a space to work and to be surrounded by and inspired by like-minded creative professionals.

It is the joint venture of video game developer Ben Ward and video game music composer Neil Johnston, who already own their own companies, and want to help other entrepreneurs, “there is a fundamental problem with finding a desk if you are a developer, and finding cheap ones and one that doesn’t tie you down to massive contracts,” Mr Ward said.

Mr Johnston, a lecturer at the Academy of Contemporary Music, said Rocketdesk was not an incubator, but a professional space for people to work, whilst ensuring developers can concentrate on their ideas without being bogged down by the complexities of running a business.

As well as providing a desk, Rocketdesk, based in Surrey Technology Centre, can advise on the essentials of running a business such as contracts, accounts, and insurance.

“I don’t think anyone enjoys Companies House returns,” Mr Johnston said. “Ultimately no one’s holding your hand. It is a big scary world out there when someone wants to start a business. Your passion is to put out great creative output and your focus should be on producing that, but if you are late on your Companies House return, they will find you. Those are the things which can kill businesses, so if you’re in an environment where we can help people through that, then great.”

Rocketdesk will also hold gaming events, and its first was as one of the hosts of Global Game Jam, a worldwide event which saw developers get together to create a new game over the weekend.

As well as the town being home to EA Games, Rocketdesk is based near Lionhead and 22Cans, companies founded by Peter Molyneux, described as the ‘father of Guildford gaming’ and developer of the first ‘god game’ Populus.

Last year, Mr Molyneux called for the big companies and independents to share problems and ideas to further the industry, something which acted as part of Mr Ward’s inspiration to get the Rocketdesk project off the ground.

“When I was studying and looking at the games industry it was completely inaccessible,” he said.

“You needed amazing degrees and demos, and it wasn’t obvious where the barrier was to joining the industry.

“I thought I was pretty good at uni, joined the industry and realised I didn’t know anything.

“We are providing a space where students can rent a desk, hang out, come to events, and realise you need to be really good to work in the games industry. I hope that we will be encouraging for them.”

Mr Johnston said: “This is something for everyone, not just people in part of our space. Major studios can use this as a talent ground to find new talent.”

Research gaming in Guildford

Research gaming in Guildford