Games | Drinks | Scotland is a series of events hosted three times a year, each time held in each of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee.

They came about from a conversation about the ridiculousness of most people in the Scottish games industry only meeting at overseas conferences, rather than catching up with each in their home cities.

Because they’ve turned into a great (the only!?) way for someone to come to Scotland and meet folk from literally every Scottish game dev studio in the course of a couple of days, past visitors that have come up especially have included: Sega, Apple, nVidia, Universal Music, Bossa Studios, Curve Digital, Fremantle Media, Merge Games, the BFI, the Oliver Twins, and Special Effect.

The format is nine speakers, each talking for strictly ten minutes, with networking breaks after every three speakers. Talk subjects can be very wide ranging; essentially anything that’s likely to be of interest to the majority of the audience. There must be no talk of recruiting or recruitment activity at the events though.

Thanks to the generosity of the Oliver Twins, Ged Grimes and Tim Gatland at the November 2019 events we raffled tickets for the prizes they donated and raised over £800 for the amazing work of games charity Special Effect.

The events are free, and open to anyone working in/around the games industry. Obviously most attendees are local, but as well as the speakers that travel up especially, the events are open to anyone in the games industry outside Scotland that happens to be in town anyway for work/holiday etc.

Next dates are:

Kind sponsors of the bar at the March 2020 events were:

Paul Durrant of the UK Games Fund; “A fantastic blend of speakers in a slick and short schedule around a common theme that kept the audience engaged. It was great to talk to the many old and new contacts that came along on the night”
- Mark Hogarth, Partner at Techstart Ventures; “Games Drinks Dundee is a great networking opportunity for everyone involved; bringing together a unique group of developers and speakers that would otherwise be hard to find”
- Matt Tester of Universal Music; “Games | Drinks | Dundee’ was an excellent and insightful event, attracting a range of talent from the gaming industry. Universal Production Music were proud to support the inaugural event and benefitted from the superb networking opportunities”
- Philip & Andrew Oliver, Game Dragons; “A brilliant excuse to travel up to Scotland to meet many brilliant Scottish developers. We had a fantastic time, learnt loads, and met with so many great people. I expect we’ll be visiting again soon.”
- Bobby Wertheim, Head of Content, Sega Searchlight “If you are looking to meet with talented and experienced indies, this is an event that should be added to your schedule. A friendly, and cosy atmosphere, perfect for networking with local talent as well as having a platform to talk about what you are passionate about to a receptive audience!”

** See bottom of page for FAQs **

Past events / speakers:

4th March 2020, Dundee
Ryan Bentley & Reuben Moyler, Universal Production Music
Neil Parmer, Escape Technology
Imre Jele, Bossa Studios
Chris McLaughlin, Moon Mode VR
Brian Baglow, Proper QA
Nick Streeter, Special Effect
Stuart Baird, Forza livery painter
Silvia Ferrero, MediaLoc
Ross McDonald, Ruffian Games

3rd March 2020, Glasgow
Graeme McKellan, NoCode
Chris McLaughlin, Moon Mode VR
Neil Parmer, Escape Technology
Hazel Gibbens, Tech Nation
Ryan Bentley & Reuben Moyler, Universal Production Music
Special Effect
David Purvis, Spelfie
Stuart Baird, Forza livery painter

2nd March 2020, Edinburgh
Chris Scullion, Games Journalist
Nick Barratt, Proper QA
Ryan Bentley & Reuben Moyler, Universal Production Music
Chris McLaughlin, Moon Mode VR
Sara Gatland, Filmmaker
Special Effect
Neil Parmer, Escape Technology
Greg Maguire, Humain

7th November 2019, Dundee
Philip and Andrew Oliver AKA The Oliver Twins
Bobby Wertheim, Sega
Mhairi Maxwell and Kirsty Hassard, V&A Dundee
Neil Parmer, Escape Technology
Paul Farley, Chilli Connect (Unity)
Neil Crawford, FindMyPast
Greg Lee, Ruffian Games
Alistair Low, Ninja Kiwi

5th November 2019, Edinburgh
Philip and Andrew Oliver AKA The Oliver Twins
Stuart Burnside, British Film Institute
Attila Vass, Speech Graphics
Mhairi Maxwell and Kirsty Hassard, V&A Dundee
Orfeas Boteas, Krotos
Neil Parmer, Escape Technology
Greg Lee, Ruffian Games
Tim Dew, Games Without Frontiers,

4th November 2019, Glasgow
Philip and Andrew Oliver AKA The Oliver Twins
Ged Grimes, Heist Records
Stuart Burnside, British Film Institute on Video Games Tax Credits
Danny Buksh, Glasgow School of Art
Sara Gatland, Video Editor
Neil Parmer, Escape Technology
Nick Streeter, Special Effect
Jason Frame, Curious Chip
Jeff Robbins, Bithell Games

31st July 2019, Dundee
Meredith More, V&A Dundee
Paul Leishman, Team Junkfish
Karen Troop, Freemantle Media
Graham McAllister, UX Expert
Sharon Methven, DC Thomson
Nazan Ünlütürk, ChilliConnect
Andrew Macdonald, Scottish Game Dev Association
Ronan Sandford, Etherplay
James Cope, Ruffian Games

30th July 2019, Glasgow
Lauren Bassam, V&A Dundee
Karen Troop, Fremantle Media
Simon Byron, Curve Digital
David Fox, indie game developer
Korina Abbot, Kinetic Atom
Stephen Hey, Merge Games
James Stewart, Get Well Gamers
Chris Scullion, Games Journalist
Jon McKellan, NoCode

17th April 2019, Dundee
Mal Abbas, Biome Collective
Stephen Hey, Merge Games
Alexis Evans, Tag Games
Sean Taylor, InGame
Chris Scullion, Games Journalist
Paul Durrant, UK Games Fund
Mike Dailly, Ogre Games
Stuart Burnside, The British Film Institute
Mark Hogarth, TechStart Ventures
Matt Tester. Universal Music
Ged Grimes, Heist Records

For anything not covered below, please email:

How are the events funded?
They’re not. The events operate on a ‘cheap and cheerful’ basis whereby the time/cost commitment is minimal to ensure they actually happen rather than being at the whim of third party. As long as there’s enough spent at the bar, there’s no venue hire, and by holding them in live music venues there’s no need to pay for sound systems/engineers etc.

Can you recommend reasonable hotels for each?
- Glasgow;
- Edinburgh;
- Dundee;

Is there a free bar?
Only if someone sponsors it. And if so, depending on how much sponsorship is offered dictates whether it’s an open bar or limited by vouchers etc. Chasing sponsorship takes time and effort I don’t have though, so there’s no guarantees.

Why not have them in posher venues?
Because they want paying for use of the venue. Plus would require hiring of sound systems/engineers etc, not to mention higher bar prices.

My company/University/back-garden has space you can have for free…
Cool — shout with the details, but if it means still having to pay for sound systems/engineers, there’s no bar, it would look like a recruitment ploy, or it otherwise has the potential to create work or uncertainty than the venues used already, then they’ll probably stay in the music venues.

My company might want to sponsor the bar…
Great :) You’re welcome to come up to any/all and just mingle as an attendee anyway, but if you want to make a bunch of game developers happy, what you’d get is;
- Speaking slot (talks should generally be informative but obviously anyone buying drinks is allowed to make theirs a bit more salesy)
- Branding on drinks vouchers
- Branding on slides during all networking breaks
- Branding on Eventbrite page
- And verbal shout-out Thanks from on stage each night.
There’s no fixed sponsorship levels, although obviously whether it justifies you getting all the above depends on the amount you can help with.

Can I help somehow?
Hell yes. Shout with any suggestions of how you could help, but any of the following would always be appreciated:
- Do a talk. Or even help find someone else that’d be up for doing one.
- Check folk in on the door.
- Sell raffle tickets when there’s money being raised for charity.
- If you’re musical, it’d be great to have local music (live or pre-recorded) playing during/after the event.
- Spread the word about the event; I have a monthly email with all the games related events going on in Scotland every month that makes it easy to spread the word. Encourage anyone that might be interested to sign up here;

Why no students?
I know this doesn’t go down well with some, obviously particularly students, but the simple answer is that if I opened them to students, I’d need bigger venues. Which charge money. The venues are all live music venues, which come with PA system, microphones, lighting, and often even a sound engineer. For most other venues, they would all be extra costs on top.

Despite trying to minimise costs, I still have to run the events at a loss out of my own pocket — I’ve got to travel to each several times, buy all the odd things that help presentations run smoothly like a clicker, projection sheet, long HDMI cables etc.

It’s possible a sponsor could cover venue costs, but of course finding sponsors can take a lot of time, and the events are a lot of work already.

There are a lot of games students in Scotland (eg Abertay apparently has over 1,000 at any one time!), and because so many are so enthusiastic, a good event, that’s free, is going to attract a *lot* of them :)

I’ve always offered a handful of students the chance to come in if they were willing to check folk in on the door. But to be honest I often struggle to get volunteers for that.

There are a lot of games events around Scotland that are open to students, they don’t *all* need to be. But to help those that don’t know of other events they could go to, I started a monthly mailing list with all the games related events going on in Scotland every month; anyone can sign up here;

Despite some folk that don’t know me assuming I don’t care about students, they couldn’t be more wrong. I got Channel 4 to allocate a six figure sum on commissioning winning student projects from the Dare to be Digital competition. I’ve travelled and spoken at dozens of Universities. I’ve sat on mind-numbing boards of course approval panels, industry advisory groups, and even Abertay’s governing Court, because I wanted to try and get academia and industry as aligned and working as closely together as possible.

Although I don’t have the time/resources to create events that work for everyone, I’d do what I can to support others that want to run a similar event for anyone that isn’t supported by mine. For starters, here’s an article I wrote about how I ran an online version of the events.

Helping indie game developers reach the audiences they deserve