As a Liverpool fan, I normally despise Manchester, which doesn’t always go down well with my other half who was born and raised there. However, if there was ever something that can make me put to one side my issues with that less talented footballing city, it is video games. And we’ve been fortunate enough to chat to the founder of one of the largest gaming communities in the North West, Manchester Gamers Unite.
Hello Simran. To kick things off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself.
So my name is Simran and I’m the 23-year-old founder of Manchester’s leading community gaming event Manchester Gamers Unite and one of the founders and directors of the community-driven indie game studio Tri-Heart Interactive.
And how did you find yourself falling in love with video games?
The origins of my love for video game initially starts of as your cliche run of the mill, fell in love with them at five years old and admired how video games allowed us as a species to experience visual entertainment on a level of immersion never known before and wanted to create these amazing experiences when I grew up.
It wasn’t until I got around my second year at university that I started to admire them more from a cultural standpoint, games are unlike any other entertainment industry to exist before, we’ve got so much diversity in the way we create and go about their design that has led to
the thembecoming the leading entertainments industry to date, and we’re only getting stronger.
What was it that inspired you to set up the Manchester Gamers Unite community?
So the origins of Manchester Gamers Unite is that after meeting my former event host Stephanie Staszko on a Twitch stream during my first year at university, after becoming friends through the platform in the Twitch chat we decided to host a one off gamers meetup event, and well to cut a story short over 70 people came to the event and we were stunned by the feedback we received.
We decided to host another event and it was during the second event I saw a group of gamers conversing with some 3D artists from Cloud Imperium and just simply learning from each other, the gaming community was getting to speak to the developers behind a video game face to face without any red tape or formal barriers between them like you see at bigger conventions and events and it was from there the spark was born.
I decided I wanted to build a platform and a brand for developers and gamers to come together in a single space and simply speak, network and learn from each other in a personal and chilled atmosphere, where gamers can play early development and released titles from indie and AAA studios and actually converse with the creative minds behind these games over a drink and some food and develop a more personal relationship with them in a way not seen anywhere else.
What exactly is the aim of your community, and how does it differ from others?
So Gamers Unite is extremely unique as we are the only gaming event in the UK to specialise in community-driven development, CDD is the action of allowing consumers to have a creative input on the games and products they love and may want to purchase one day by having personal one to one interaction with the creatives behind the game on a regular basis to provide playtesting and allowing developers to build a community around their game through repeated showcasing and gain crucial feedback from hundreds of gamers that can be implemented into either current in-development title or future planned titles if showcasing a released game.
This event structure has worked wonders as unlike at a lot of bigger conventions and events there is most often a formal barrier separating the two worlds so Gamers Unite has acted as a bridge for both within the North West enabling developers to showcase their projects to a large scale community and gain crucial design feedback and network and allow gamers to have creative input on the games of the future.
It’s this ethos that has helped us secure our own independent and unique slot within the North West gaming event’s market.
Do you team up with communities from other regions as well to help spread the gaming love?
Of course myself and Gamers Unite’s brand manager Kieran Rogers work with a lot of different brands and organisations all throughout the country and not just gaming, for example we host charity fundraising at our events and work with lots of different groups to help raise prizes to give away in charity raffles often gaming related prizes to help spread gaming goodness that way, and also work with brands such as GameByte and Media Chain to help spread the word of our events to help more developers around the country learn about the platform we offer them from a showcase perspective and gamers to learn about the hub available to them to make friends, play games and have fun.
Now some people say that there are gaming communities out there who are just around to try and falsely boost viewer numbers so people can get perks such as Twitch affiliation. Would you say that’s a fair assessment and is this something that is encouraged in Manchester Gamers Unite?
That is a something we don’t really concern ourselves with at MGU, but from a personal perspective it’s a waste of potential real organic gaming community that could exist, when you have something as strong as a community coming together for a common goal games or not you have the chance to build a solid brand for yourself and platform for others, and to really contribute something to the industry the community is structured around, to use the idea of a community to boost a “short term gain” over a long term vision seems like a waste but that’s just my opinion.
Moving away from questions about the community itself, you have a community gaming event happening very soon. What is the event for and what can people expect who attend?
So our next event is our largest event to date our Gamers Unite 2019 Launch Party and is our first event of the new year, our last event prior was Gamers Unite’s rebrand party where we did a complete overhaul of the scale and marketing approach our events took and following that myself and the rest of the team wanted to go even bigger than we did before so decided to move our events to Impossible Manchester where we will now be covering two whole floors of showcases/features.
People can expect lots of things, as I’ve stated we are very unique and have features such as VR KAT Walks, the latest food trends such as ice cream roll vendors and cake vendors, AAA studios such as Ubisoft showcasing their games, the creators behind famous indie games such as The Overcooked series and other prominent UK studios showcasing their early development games waiting to hear what you think.
But most importantly you can expect to find the most friendly group of gamers and creatives in the North West awaiting you with open arms, our doors are open to everyone gamer or not, as much as our events as orientated around video games we are ultimately an event about people and bringing them together, so whether you just want to play games, have a drink and hang out with/make friends, network, show work, have some good food or just simply just take a night off our community and halls welcome you.
Will events like this become a more regular occurrence?
Absolutely Gamers Unite is three years old in July and we host events like this on a bi-monthly basis so you can always expect to see our events spamming your newsfeed.
We’ve seen you say on social media that it’s the largest community gaming event in the North West. Having attended PLAY Expo Manchester in the past that’s quite a bold statement. Or do you see an expo and community event as two different things?
So as I’ve said before we are VERY different to expos and other big conventions, I don’t consider Gamers Unite to be in the same mindset of an event like that, expos are more focused around consumer consumption and presentation, what we are is something completely different to them, there’s no other gaming event so orientated around consumer and creative unification like us in the North West, we don’t have any formal barriers or borders between the two world and try to do things you won’t find at convention gaming events.
So yes I do consider our event an entirely different entity to something like PLAY Expo.
And final mention about the event now. In ten words or less, sum up why people should come and turn up at the Manchester Gamers Unite launch party?
Where else can find ice cream rolls and video games?
Just a few more topical questions to finish things off. Google announced their new Stadia platform at GDC recently. What did you make of the announcement personally?
The idea is an interesting one and whilst it’s still very early days yet and I feel its too early to really comment on what the future holds for it, I imagine a lot of people especially a casual audience will respond well to be able to stream games on the go, and it does open up another avenue for game developers to target their games towards, I’m interested in the idea and will be keeping my eye on it to see what updates follow Stadia.
How do you see Google competing with the likes of Sony and Microsoft?
If Stadia is able to hold its own ground within the streaming and games market long enough for it to become widely used across a large user base around the world I see it potentially be a platform that could stand alongside them.
The main challenge that awaits Google is that Sony and Microsoft are more established and trusted brands when it comes to video games and therefore you will always have the natural challenge of convincing users to leave their comfort zone to make the transition to your platform, we are creatures of habit after all and like to stick with what we know and is safe, so we will see, I’m curious to see where Google is to go following GDC.
Has there been anything else that has come out of GDC that particularly caught your eye?
Yes everything!! I have yet to go to GDC myself and lay my own eyes on its beautiful golden gates myself, naturally the game developer side of me is always attracted to the tech elements of GDC especially the Unreal Engine and Unity conferences, always some good new updates to come out those elements of the event.
And finally, for a bit of fun, if you could invite three video game characters round for tea, who would they be and why?
Right now this is tricky, as a Northerner I’ll assume tea the main meal of the day (yes its tea not dinner deal with it) and not the beverage.
So my mind immediately goes to one of the chef’s from Overcooked (either granny or racoon) need someone to save everyone from my terrible cooking after all.
Roach, Geralt’s horse from the Witcher series as that way I have a way to quickly bail if the meal is terrible and also gain a horse that can teleport anywhere in the world as a bonus.
And finally Nathan Drake because you know the meal isn’t going to be boring and you’re probably going to need to put Roach to use within 5 mins of sitting down.
And that sums up our chat with Simran, the founding father of Manchester Gamers Unite. We’d like to thank him for chatting with us, and also extend an invite to you all to go along to the launch party and have some fun. If you fancy going along, you can book yourself tickets by clicking on the invitation below:
For more Q&As with members of the gaming community, just click HERE.