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Why Birmingham is a hotspot for game development

Written by
Siobhan Harper

Birmingham is famous for many different things. We're known for our chocolate, as the birthplace of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest and, more recently, as the inspiration for popular TV drama 'Peaky Blinders'.

What you might not be so aware of is that Birmingham is also home to a rich and diverse video game development scene with an impressive heritage.

So, whether it is long-established games developers, up-and-coming mobile app makers, or universities training the next generation of software wizards, Birmingham has got it all: 

The big guns

Two of the most successful developers in the Midlands – and the country – are Rare and Codemasters, and both have connections with Birmingham.

Rare started out in the ’80s creating games for Nintendo, developing a number of popular titles including the infamous 'Battletoads'. They also created fan favourites 'Goldeneye 007', 'Banjo-Kazooie' and 'Perfect Dark'.

Rare have received a multitude of awards for its work, including the BAFTA Interactive Moving Moving Images Award in 2000. Most recently Rare became a subsidiary of Microsoft, creating titles for the Xbox franchise, and have opened a studio in Fazeley Studios, in Digbeth, to complement its HQ in Twycross, Leicestershire.

Founded in 1986, Codemasters is one of the oldest surviving British gaming studios. It started out making 8-bit titles, including the cult classic 'Dizzy' series. Soon, the developers moved on from making budget titles to focus on full price titles, such as the successful 'Micro Machines' racing game.

More recently, Codemasters have become well known for their sporting and racing titles, including the 'Colin McRae Rally' and 'Brian Lara Cricket' series.

Codemasters currently have three studios, one of which is located at Tricorn House in Edgbaston, where the official 'F1' racing simulator is developed.


A photo posted by @sim0n_swe on

Birmingham is also home to Adventure Soft, which was established in 1992 in Sutton Coldfield, and responsible for the cult point 'n click adventure series 'Simon the Sorcerer'.

Looking slightly further afield, Facepunch Studios in Walsall are most famous for bringing the world 'Garry's Mod', the popular sandbox game that lets gamers play with assets from popular Valve titles, such as 'Portal'. More recently, the studio has released PC adventure game 'Rust'. 

Mobile development

Queen: Play the GameSoshi Games

Birmingham and the Midlands are also home to a growing independent developer scene, many of which are part of Birmingham's burgeoning 'Silicon Canal' tech community.

Some of these developers include Trebuchet GamesDigivoodoo, Dojit and Soshi Games (based at the Innovation Birmingham Campus), along with Flaming Pumpkin, which is located in the Custard Factory.

These studios are creating a range of mobile app games, which are fast becoming valid contenders to games released on consoles or PC.

Creating new developers

South & City College Birmingham

In such a technology-driven city, it's not surprising that local universities offer support to the next generation of developers.

Birmingham City University offer a wide range of courses related to gaming, including Computer Games Technology, Interactive Entertainment and an MSc in Video Game Enterprise and Production. At South and City College, Birmingham, a HND in Games Design is offered.

Whether you want to create game environments, get into mobile app development, or even run your own game development company, there's probably a course for you.

Gaming events 

Birmingham is also home to many different gaming events, held throughout the year. The UK's biggest gaming convention, EGX, has moved this year to the Birmingham NEC from Earl's Court.

Taking place this year from the 24-27 September, visitors will be able to play some of the biggest games before they are released. They can also watch presentations from game developers, take part in cosplay competitions or even network with industry professionals, handy if you want to get into the field yourself.

Birmingham also plays hosts the UK Games Expo. The expo focuses on table top gaming as well as video gaming, so guests can expect plenty of games to get stuck into. If you ever wanted to try your hand at Dungeons and Dragons but were too overwhelmed by the rules, you can join a game here and try it out. 

If you're a gamer, Birmingham really is the place to be right now. We have a rich history in game development, and with so much support for future developers and from the industry itself, Birmingham is the place to watch.

Need more? Find out why Birmingham is also a paradise for geeks

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