Should Sheffield be Named Britain’s Video Gaming Capital?

“Sheffield” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by

It’s usually London and the South East in general that tends to make a claim to be the capital of a particular sector. In many cases this is true, but when it comes to video games, it’s quite a different story. In fact, the development of the video games industry in the UK has been unusual in that it’s spread across the whole country, with studios operating everywhere from Truro in Cornwall to Dundee in North East Scotland.
But, around midway between the two, Sheffield can also lay claim to being a pretty big name in the world of video games, as well as one that may even be set to become even bigger.
In fact, the city has a long and distinguished history of game development stretching as far back as 1983 when a small business called Just Micro set up shop on Carver Street. This soon morphed into Gremlin Graphics. From a virtual cottage industry, this grew to become one of the biggest names in UK gaming, creating well over 200 games before being bought up by the giant French operation, Infogrames, now itself part of Atari.
Several of the developers who learned their skills at Gremlin went on to establish what is still the city’s biggest company in the sector, Sumo. Since beginning operations in 2003, it has gone on to become a major name in gaming thanks to developing original titles including Crackdown and Little Big Planet. The company has also been a key partner in contributing to both the Forza Motorsport and Horizon series.

“Forza Motorsport 6 at Gamescom 2015” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Sergey Galyonkin

It has also won many prestigious accolades including the Best Studio prize in the 2019 Develop: Star Awards and the 2021 Best Companies 3 Star Award as one of the world’s best organisations to work for.
Another sector that is thriving in the city is in slots and gaming development for online casinos. One of the leading lights is the highly respected Crucible. Based in the Sheffield Digital Campus, they have been instrumental in creating many of the games that can be played as free demo slots on many leading casino sites, such as Fluffy Favourites and Eye of Horus. This is a very popular way of attracting players to a new title which offers a chance to “try before they buy”. This, combined with generous bonuses, is how many people find the games they want to play.
But perhaps the real clincher in the city’s claim to be at the heart of the industry is that it is also home to the National Video Game Museum. You’ll find it in Angel Street and it has a comprehensive selection of games through the ages. With plenty of interactive exhibits, it is nothing if not a hands-on experience. There are also frequent events and lectures for the truly devoted to video games and it’s also a valuable resource for people doing academic research into the history of gaming.
So it all adds up to the fact that, while it may not be Steel City anymore, Sheffield’s claim to be Silicon City instead has some very strong evidence to support it.

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