Studio founder James North-Hearn to be awarded for his services to the Yorkshire dev scene

Sumo Digital founder to receive honorary doctorate

James North-Hearn, the founder of Sumo Digital, is to receive an honorary doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University for his role in kick-starting the creative industries in Yorkshire.

North-Hearn, now CEO of the Foundation 9 Group, will be given the honour at a ceremony in November.

North-Hearn founded Sumo Digital in 2003, after his previous studio Germlin closed. Since then, the studio has grown to more then 170 people and shipped titles on consoles, handhelds and mobile. It has enjoyed solid success in recent years developing the Virtua Tennis series and Sonic & Sega All-Stars series for Sega, and more recently providing DLC for LittleBigPlanet 2.

The studio has also been nominated for the prestigious Develop Awards on a number of occasions.
As CEO of Foundation 9, North-Hearn oversees actives at Sumo Digital and its sister studios.

Before the ceremony, North-Hearn will visit Sheffield Hallam’s PlayStation 3 development lab and in-house game development studio, Steel Minions.

Professor Roger Eccleston, pro vice chancellor for the Faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences, said: “James is a key figure in South Yorkshire’s creative digital industries, and an internationally-recognised industry champion.

“He is a pioneer in the video game industry, and used his background in electronic engineering to help construct development kits for some of the first game consoles.

“He was one of the founders of Sumo Digital and now, as CEO of Foundation 9 Entertainment, he oversees one of the largest global game development companies, responsible for delivering very successful titles in some of the most exciting gaming franchises in the world.

“James rarely seeks the limelight, but his efforts over the years have contributed greatly to the game development legacy that we have here in Sheffield.”

Image: Sheffield Hallam interns outside Sumo’s office

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