Game boys

De­sign­ers win Bafta af­ter lat­est cre­ation gets 180,000 down­loads

Sunday Mail (UK) - - The Judge -

A games de­vel­oper who won a Bafta has re­vealed he was warned by a school teacher he had no chance of a ca­reer in the tech in­dus­try.

Jon McKel lan re­mem­bers his dis­ap­point­ment 30 years ago af­ter be­ing told there was no job that could com­bine his love of both com­put­ers and art.

Three decades on, Jon, his brother Graeme and their child­hood best friend, Omar Khan, said they are liv­ing their dream af­ter a game they de­signed, Sto­ries Un­told, be­came a huge suc­cess and won Best Game award from Bafta Scot­land.

Jon, 37, from Glas­gow, said: “Since Graeme, Omar and I were young boys, we have al­ways loved do­ing things to­gether.

“We’ve al­ways done sports to­gether, we have been in bands to­gether and, since I was five, we al­ways en­joyed play­ing com­puter games to­gether.

“Now I’m work­ing along­side Graeme and Omar and our lat­est game has done amaz­ingly well. It’s been a long jour­ney but we really are liv­ing our dream.”

Jon, Graeme and Omar, who grew up in Chrys­ton, near Glas­gow, all chose dif­fer­ent ca­reer paths af­ter leav­ing school. Jon be­came a graphic de­signer, Omar was a lec­turer in au­dio pro­duc­tion and Graeme got a job as a physics teacher.

Jon said: “Grow­ing up, we had al­ways been quite cre­ative to­gether and, for a while, that came out through mu­sic – with the band we had, Fu­turo, even play­ing at T in the Park.

“But I went through a bit of a ca­reer change af­ter watch­ing my broth­erin-law get a job in the games in­dus­try and I was a lit­tle jeal­ous.”

Jon got a job in Dundee work­ing with Dave Jones, one of the orig­i­nal de­sign­ers be­hind Grand Theft Auto and Lem­mings.

Three years ago, Jon set up his own games pro­duc­tion stu­dio, No Code, with Omar, 39, whi le Graeme, 40, helped out in the evenings and at week­ends.

They ini­tially de­vised a game for mo­bile phones, Lub vs Dub, which both Ap­ple and Star­bucks chose as their app store Ed­i­tor’s Choice and Pick of the Week.

They went on to cre­ate other games, in­clud­ing Su­per Arc Light and House Aban­don, be­fore de­sign­ing Sto­ries Un­told, which since its launch in March has been down­loaded more than 180,000 times.

Dad-of-three Jon, who was nom­i­nated as a Break­through Brit at the na­tional Bafta awards, said: “We de­scribe the game as four sto­ries, one night­mare.

“It’s a hor­ror thriller and quite a won­der­fully weird game that gives the player an al­most frus­trat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, de­lib­er­ately so.”

Dad- of-two Graeme, a for­mer teacher at Denny High School, Stir­ling­shire, said: “I en­joyed my job work­ing as a physics teacher and only joined the com­pany full-time six months ago. A num­ber of my pupils knew what I was leav­ing to do and I’ve even had great feed­back from them about en­joy­ing the game, which is lovely.

“Game de­sign and physics are not as dif­fer­ent as peo­ple may think – there are a lot of prob­lem-solv­ing skills needed for both. And I know there are a lot of peo­ple with a physics back­ground in­volved in game de­vel­op­ment on the code side of things.”

Omar added: “It’s only just be­gin­ning to sink in that we got a Bafta for our work.

“I think we were al­ways des­tined to end up work­ing to­gether do­ing some­thing we love – and I think that’s one of the key rea­sons for our suc­cess.”

It’s been a long jour­ney but we really are liv­ing our dream to­gether now

SUC­CESS STORY From left, Graeme, Jon and their pal Omar NEW CHAP­TER Hor­ror-thriller video game Sto­ries Un­told, left and below. Right, the Su­per Arc Light game

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