Coventry and Warwickshire’s most intriguing and tangible creative cluster is the proliferation of computer games companies centered on the well-heeled regency town of Leamington Spa.
Back in 1982, gaming pioneers Codemasters set up its base of operations in nearby Southam before going on to dominate the world of early games design and publishing in the UK.
Almost four decades later and that single company has (re)spawned a large group of games development studios considered to be one of the largest outside London.
It’s a dynamic community with a mix of big names including Microsoft’s Playground Games (Forza Horizon), Sega Hardlight (Sonic Dash), Ubisoft Leamington (Tom Clancy’s The Division) and Rebellion Warwick (Sniper Elite), along with smaller, up-and-coming studios such as Pixel Toys (Warhammer 40,000 Freeblade) and Exient (Angry Birds Go).
The cluster, known affectionately as ‘Silicon Spa’, now has over 2,500 employees across 83 studios (representing over 15% of the UK’s total games developers).
Among this vibrant scene you can also find emerging technology leaders RIVR taking virtual reality in new and exciting directions, alongside Silicon Spa’s founding fathers still leading the way in mobile technologies. Meanwhile, just down the road, Codemasters continues to build on its heritage of racing games.
Boardrooms and receptions across the county are home to a fair few BAFTAs and it’s a source of civic pride that Mickey Mouse, Spongebob Squarepants, Sonic the Hedgehog and Pac-Man have all continued their digital adventures in the centre of Leamington Spa. So much so that the town celebrated local games makers with the award-winning Backspace Festival and now hosts an annual conference for the industry, Interactive Futures.