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28 September, 2018 - 08:57 By Kate Sweeney

Cambridge games pioneers out to dominate industry awards

Four Cambridge companies and two of its shrewdest ambassadors are in the running for honours at the TIGA Games Industry Awards at Guildhall, London on November 1.

Jagex, Ninja Theory, PlayFusion and new kid on the gamers’ block, Virtual Arts, are shortlisted across multiple categories. PlayFusion is in the running for six awards and Ninja Theory five.

The prolific and highly regarded Mark Gerhard of PlayFusion and Nizar Romdan of Virtual Arts are also in the running for the Outstanding Leadership Award.

Cambridge’s reputation for gaming excellence spans decades thanks largely to founding father David Braben whose Elite game was a huge early success. Since Braben’s breakthrough, Cambridge has spawned a cohort of world-class companies and games. Braben’s business, Frontier Developments launched the follow-on Elite Dangerous in 2014 and more recently stole the headlines via Jurassic World Evolution.

Earlier this year Ninja Theory won five BAFTAs for Audio Achievement, Artistic Achievement, Best Performer, British Game and Game Beyond Entertainment.

The studio’s ‘Hellblade: Senua’s sacrifice game is the one targeting glory at this year’s TIGA Awards. As also announced in Business Weekly, Ninja then revealed that it had been acquired by Microsoft for an undisclosed sum – securing around 100 Cambridge gaming jobs.

PlayFusion has expanded rapidly in Cambridge in the past couple of years. Under the guidance of ex-Jagex chief, Mark Gerhard, the company has become a major player – not just in gaming – but in advanced technology taking the industry to the next level.

The company is creating artificial intelligence and robotics to pioneer the future of mixed reality. Gerhard’s former business, Jagex, is in the running for two awards.

Virtual Arts is aiming to gain accreditation following a successful year. The company, guided by Nizar Romdan has made great progress over the last 12 months. Based at St John’s Innovation Centre; Virtual Arts is proving a hit with gamers around the world with its Lightstream Racer. The game has been popular on the App Store and has been singled out by Apple lately as its top racing game.

Virtual Arts was founded in September 2016 by Romdan, formerly director of ecosystems at Arm, and Doug Day, who was an engineering manager at the Cambridge super chip architect. In April 2017 the company benefitted from Sony’s decision to close its Guerilla studio in Cambridge with Virtual Arts hoovering up some of the top talent. Staff brought on board had worked on titles such as LittleBigPlanet, Killzone and most recently RIGS (a launch title for the Playstation VR).

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