The past few weeks have been a bit crazy here in Dundee.
How's that for an opening? I'll be submitting it for the "understatement of the year" awards later on, so please remember to cast your vote.
I suppose at some point I may follow the examples of a few of my former colleagues and write up my own impressions on just what happened, but this in not that entry. If I do write that entry, it will be after I have had more time to process and unpack my own experiences. I'm not there yet. For now, I will simply say that I wish all the best to the many talented folks who have been displaced and I hope that everyone manages to land safely.
As for me, I am obliged to stay in the UK for the time being. I would prefer to stay in Dundee if I can manage it, although that may prove difficult.
Truthfully, the game development community in Dundee has been having a tough time for longer than just the past few weeks. Many of the more prominent studios in the area have been struggling recently, with the Realtime Worlds diaspora simply being the most high profile instance. These problems certainly aren't unique to Dundee, but neither can they be attributed solely to the prevailing economic climate. Regardless, there is undoubtedly a pronounced atmosphere of tension and gloom in the region at the moment.
Now, I am not what you might call an optimist by nature, but I believe that the cloud will pass. Let me explain.
First of all, there is now and will continue to be no shortage of talented, determined, and ambitious developers in Dundee. What ties the disparate studios in the region together, in my mind, is an endemic strength that allows them to persevere and rebound from setbacks. Dundee has weathered large studio closures in the past, and has emerged on the other side with a cohesive network of developers intact. There is a survival instinct here that reaches beyond the lifespan of any individual company, a stubborn refusal to be disillusioned by dissolution.
Perhaps more importantly, there is a clear recognition among those who know Dundee's history that game development is a crucial part of the fabric of the region, both economically and culturally. The substantial investment from Channel 4 that was recently announced is just one indication that others are aware of the considerable talent base that continues to reside in Dundee. It might not seem obvious, but this perception really does makes a huge difference. Dundee's legacy of embracing game development is an important distinction that sets it apart from any number of post-industrial, rust belt cities struggling to find a replacement for the manufacturing base that once succored them.
So, there you have it. My own little paean to Dundee. Admittedly, being a game developer here is not easy right now. But then, when has game development ever been easy? It was a challenge getting to Dundee in the first place, and plenty more challenges lie ahead. But speaking on behalf of those of us who choose to remain in the area, I remain confident that we will endure. We always do.