BLACK FRIDAY OFFER: If you’d like to come along with a friend to IRL 2023, we’re currently running a 2-for-1 ticket special offer over on our Eventbrite page until midnight on November 21, 2023! Just look for ‘Black Friday 2 for 1 Admission’ on the list of available ticket types, and add it to your cart to get two tickets for the price of one!
Welcome to this year’s 30 Under 30, where we put the spotlight on the best and brightest young talent in the industry that the industry has to offer.
“It is from this list of talented people that the industry’s future concepts, creativity, motivation, and leaders will undoubtedly emerge. This is the reason why we take immense pride in our association with the 30 Under 30, which recognises and applauds the industry’s younger members, highlighting their valuable contributions thus far. Congratulations to each one of you!” – Kim Parker Adcock, founder and managing director, One Player Mission
“Once again I’ve had the honour of being on the panel that decides this year’s cohort of the MCV/DEVELOP 30 Under 30, and yet again I am staggered by the amount of talented people younger than me that are already absolute superstars in their fields. As usual, our selection process was long and arduous, and making any actual decisions took ages because there were just so many good people to choose from. If you didn’t make the list this year, please try again next time, as I’m sure you’re all just going to be even more talented and accomplished in 2024. As for those selected that will be joining us at IRL 2023, well done — I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible in person, as we celebrate you at the party!” – Vince Pavey, staff writer, MCV/DEVELOP
The 2023 30 Under 30 Cohort
Marketing Manager at Square Enix
Alongside working on high quality communications campaigns, Melissa also puts the time and effort into encouraging the next generation in games. She’s regularly making sure the industry continues to grow, volunteering and supporting game jams, as well as helping people find employment and challenging representation. If that weren’t enough, she also spends time being an advocate for mental health for those already at work in an industry that can sometimes seem to forget that it is made up of people.
Founder and Studio Director at MLC
As well as being rather young for a studio founder and director of a flourishing games company, Max often uses his robust technical skills to leverage gaming platforms to spark positive change. He shows a regular commitment to accessibility and inclusivity, supporting talent at all industry experience levels in his efforts as a Women in Games ambassador and as a kind and compassionate leader at his own company and in the wider games industry.
Brand Video Creator at Square Enix External Studios
Everyone who speaks to you about Lucy Hale will tell you what a rockstar she is. From what we can tell, she goes above and beyond in her role at Square Enix, and her enthusiasm and passion for what she does in video campaigns has earned her a fan club both inside and outside of the company. So impressed is the industry in fact, that one of the people who nominated Lucy also wrote a poem, but we’re keeping that for ourselves.
Producer at Rocksteady Studios
Vijay is a game producer that has already worked on hugely anticipated upcoming titles like Fable and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. His easy going and warm manner, as well as his methodical approach to production, makes him an asset to any team that has him on board. On top of that, he’s the person behind Playground Games’ LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group, which helps their LGBTQIA+ employees to feel seen, heard and celebrated.
Senior 3D artist at Hyper Luminal Games
An incredible artist that is regularly learning and improving her craft as she makes her way up the ranks at Hyper Luminal, Katy also mentors students and spends time volunteering at industry events to help share her experiences and knowledge with those that come to listen. Katy has been described as a problem solver, and will make stuff happen if it will make a game better or people on the team happier. We’ve been told that every team should have a Katy, and we agree.
Head of Community at Toya Play Studio
Jupiter has been described as ‘a guiding light of indie developers for a decade’ by her supporters, and is a well-known champion and friend of the indie circuit. As well as being the conduit between her studio and its community (and both a speaker and a judge at various indie game focused festivals around the world) she has also started bringing GameMaker developers together at memorable meet ups that foster both learning and collaboration.
PR Manager at Heaven Media
A font of experience and knowledge, James has recently made the transition into PR from a career in journalism – one he has taken to like a fish to water. He was described as ‘dedicated’, ‘kind’, and ‘an absolute dream to work with’ by his supporters, and we’re not surprised, as he has always been known for both championing new voices and fighting for improvements for his team in the workplace. Well, that and being a bit of a chatterbox, but we’ll let that slide.
Account Manager at Indigo Pearl
Luke is an absolute professional in the workplace, and is quick to help out whenever he can with a laser-focused creativity that never forgets that video games are supposed to be about having fun. He’s never one to avoid a challenge, and has as such already worked on campaigns for some of the biggest games ever released. If that weren’t enough, he regularly advocates for LGBTQ+ voices within the industry, and is just generally an excellent human being.
Game Designer at Hyper Luminal Games
After starting out in QA, Phoebe made the jump to game designer three years ago to chase her dreams of developing meaningful games. Her colleagues tell us that she is already seeing great success, bringing a unique perspective and creativity to her work in the role. As well as that, she’s been busy raising money for various charities, and fostering the next generation of talent both inside and outside of the studio.
Senior Talent Acquisition Partner at Sumo Digital
Sara advocates consistently for equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging in the world of video games and how it hires talent. Even outside of her duties at Sumo, she has shown a real commitment, spearheading Into Games and UKIE’s kickstart scheme that has seen 133 young individuals from diverse backgrounds get their first industry jobs. This year she has also started Bird’s Eye View, dedicated to creating even more pathways for young people and bridging the skills gap between educational institutions and the games industry.
Voice and Performance Director at Freelance
While working in the world of live theatre, the siren song of video games called to lifelong gamer Holly Reddaway and she soon found herself working as a voice and performance director for digital experiences. Holly has worked on several of the biggest games that came out this year, including Baldur’s Gate 3, Alan Wake 2, Lies of P and many more, working with actors to create truthful and nuanced performances that lift narratives and enrich experiences. Holly is also an advocate for young people and those under-represented in the industry, and supports initiatives and video game performance courses whenever possible.
EIC and Journalist at Startmenu.co.uk
Despite being only 23 years old, Lex has written for some of the biggest publications in the industry, including Polygon, Vice, TheGamer, Lost in Cult, Gayming Magazine and others. She has done all this despite still working towards journalism qualifications, and is currently also the editor-in-chief of startmenu.co.uk. In running startmenu she also regularly pays out of her own pocket to give opportunities and space to other up-and-coming writers, where they can learn to use their skill in practical ways that will contribute to their future careers.
Lead QA at Radical Forge
Dan is not only an undisputed expert in the field of QA in games, but is outspoken about the causes he cares about in a way that many would describe as fearless, advocating for social change and sustainability whenever possible. He is also one of the loudest voices for financial mobility in the games industry, and is the mind behind the EGX Full-Ride industry bursary fund, which provides low income, marginalised game developers with opportunities they may not have had otherwise.
Publishing QA Manager at Modern Wolf
Lauren has made the journey from QA tester to Publishing QA Manager within five years of starting out in the games industry, with both a meticulous eye for detail and a desire to learn and be the best manager she possibly can. Despite being a self-described introvert, she now guides and shapes the efforts of quality assurance at Modern Worf, and uses her own voice to speak up for others in ways that are necessary and important.
Partnerships Coordinator at SpecialEffect
In his ceaseless work with the charity SpecialEffect, Liam is proactive and enthusiastic in his approach to promoting its important mission to make games accessible to everyone. He regularly brings together companies and key figures from games, and his actions have directly led to real impact and industry-wide initiatives. His work has improved both video games and their development processes, and has driven so much positive change that we at MCV/DEVELOP were surprised he hasn’t been on this list already.
Technical Artist at Sumo Leamington
Nina is not only a skilled technical artist that is currently hard at work on Sumo Leamington’s debut title Stampede: Racing Royale, but she often uses her spare time to encourage other artists to join the games industry, by putting a spotlight on the portfolios of those with less industry experience. On top of that, Nina is an awareness advocate for autism in the games industry, sharing her first-hand experiences as an autistic person in talks at events, and keeping people updated on news of accessibility for ASD people.
Content and Community Manager at Safe In Our World
Although she has been in the industry for less than three years, Rosie’s time at mental health charity Safe In Our World has seen her become a crucial part of its monthly content creation, industry initiatives and project management as it works to eliminate stigma around difficult topics such as mental health. She also helps to bring developers at various levels around the UK and Ireland together to network with one another at both Social Link and Game Dev North.
Junior Unity Engineer at Snap Finger Click
Ruth is an exceptionally proactive and confident developer, who is both eager to learn and full of ideas. With her talent for seeing the bigger picture, she was put in charge of features of the upcoming Awkward 2, including its companion website and some of its accessibility features. Ruth is no stranger to designing for accessibility, as it was the subject of her research during her time at university, in which she worked on research in ‘Sound Visualisation for Games’, and removing barriers for older gamers. She is also a Women in Games Ambassador.
EMEA Community Marketing Manager at Twitch
Sarah has come to the games media industry after a career pivot from psychology, and we’re glad she did. Sarah’s goal is to make streaming a more inclusive space with authentic representation, and is determined to carve out spaces for underrepresented communities in gaming in whatever ways possible. She does this by drawing upon her own streaming experiences and her personal passion to make communications campaigns the best they can be. She’s also an avid fundraiser for social causes, and does so whenever she can.
Senior Quality Analyst at Red Kite Games
Theo is passionate about games, and has worked in QA at a few studios up in the North, as well as released his own smaller scale indie games on both Xbox and mobile. He loves a good game jam, and is the person behind the ‘2D Game Jammers’ Discord community, which has over 500 members and is regularly the impetus behind a smorgasbord of fun projects and development contests. Theo is also no stranger to industry speaking, and will often share his experiences at in-person and online events.
Corporate Communications Manager at nDreams
Matt is a well respected voice in the games industry, and has been working in journalism, corporate communications and PR in the space for around nine years, constantly striving for the highest levels of quality in his work. Matt is no stranger to building and leading teams and their processes, or developing business and media relationships, and those that have worked with him directly have credited him for large parts of their success.
Account Manager at Bastion
Shakira is driven, hard working and loves video games, which is what brought her into a full-time job in the games industry after five years in sports PR earlier this year. She’s already worked with companies like Konami and Electronic Arts on some of the biggest games in the world. Day is also a champion for diversity and inclusion in games, and was a part of the team on the inclusion update that added transgender options to The Sims, as well as the EA Sports Women’s Football Summit.
Head of Partnerships at By Gamers For Gamers and AgencyGMR
When you speak to people about Roddy, words are thrown around like ‘tenacity’, ‘flair’, ‘capable’ and ‘clever’. As the guy behind AgencyGMR, he has excelled in growing the business, using his interpersonal skills and out-of-the-box thinking to securely put the company on the map. He’s also the one behind BGFG’s charity and outreach initiatives, raising money for SpecialEffect and The Whitechapel Centre, and mentoring and guest lecturing at universities and in the local community.
Editor at Dexerto
Sayem is a highly respected editor at Dexerto, and is also regarded as one of the most knowledgeable and hardworking journalists working in the UK games industry. He’s written words for a smorgasbord of outlets during his well-established career, and was also the author behind a pair of official guide books for FromSoftware’s Elden Ring. We’re told he also knows a lot about Gundam – the giant anime robots didn’t really factor in on our decision, but they certainly didn’t hurt.
Senior Campaign Manager at YRS TRULY
With almost four years in games marketing under their belt, Lou has worked on campaigns for some of the biggest companies around, including Wizards of the Coast, Private Division and Bandai Namco. They regularly make a positive mark on games through their enthusiastic and hands on ‘jack-of-all-trades’ approach, a genuine love for the industry, and remembering that people are at the core of everything the games industry does.
Animator at Dlala Studios
India was described by one of her supporters as a ‘one in a million talent’, and we can see why. After joining Dlala as a university graduate, she was soon producing animation for Battletoads (2020), and was given ownership over one of the three main characters of the game. Her work stands up alongside that of animation veterans, and as such she was also the hand-drawn cutscene lead on this year’s Disney Illusion Island, for which she made cartoons starring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy that looked like they had been done by Disney itself.
Game Designer and Narrative Lead at Starvania Studios
It’s been a busy year for Rafif, who completed a master’s degree in games design and development this year at the National Film and Television School that won her a student BAFTA. Kalantan’s win was several firsts – she was the first female director, the first non-European winner, and the first Arab winner in the games category. She puts her experiences and stories at the forefront of her work, and is currently also doing volunteer work that will help to build the industry in the MENA/SWANA region.
Head of Production at Firestoke Games
MJ Lewis is a driven, ambitious, working class woman that joined the games industry while studying a masters at Cambridge, which itself followed studies at Oxford writing about games like Breath of the Wild. MJ started out as a marketing assistant, but was soon head of production at PQube after only eight months in the industry. This is a role she has continued in at Firestoke Games, where she has set up a new production team and revised and expanded on the studio’s mental health policies. In short, she has done a lot, incredibly quickly!
Co-founder at Dot Dot Fire
Hilary is the youngest co-founder at Dot Dot Fire, a developer working in the games for good space that uses the The Money Wise Game to teach children in schools and at larger events about financial literacy and responsible spending. She champions both the industry and the medium to those outside of game development that might not necessarily understand its potential for more than just throw away entertainment, helps children to learn, and stands tall as a role model for girls and people of colour that may one day want to work in video games too.
Associate Senior Concept Artist at Huey Games
Mo has not only used his artistic talents and creativity to garner Huey Games’ clockwork action adventure game Mechinus an assortment of critical acclaim at various festivals around the world, but has grown to be an exceptional leader at the same time. He nurtures and mentors junior artists, contractors, and interns, and leads by an example of empathy, passion and dedication that brings the best out of the entire team.
- Tom Edwards, Account Manager at Bastion
- Jack Jewell-Mills, Head of Talent Acquisition at Sumo Group
- Ellie Greenfield, Junior PR and Comms Manager at Sumo Group
- Leon Y. Xiao, PhD Fellow at IT University of Copenhagen and University of York
- Michelle Gimsing, Studio Manager at Warp Digital