Designers win Bafta after latest creation gets 180,000 downloads
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