Game Republic

Bruce Slater profile

Bruce Slater heads up Radical Forge, a studio set up by himself and Freddie Babord in 2017. The studio now employs over 60 people and has a HQ in the North East. Graduating in 1993, Bruce worked on games of his own and helped other developers – releasing ‘Audital’, a self-created game that was featured by Apple in 2015 and worked on Gang Beasts by Boneloaf. His and Freddie’s rationale for starting their own studio was that they wanted to take an alternative approach to game development. They’ve aimed to build a studio that is a creative safe haven for developers. He also claims that he was made to do it when Neil Parmar (Escape Technology) encouraged him to set up a studio. Radical Forge have now co developed massive global titles including Minecraft Dungeons, Zombie Army 4 and Sea of Thieves. In January 2024, they announced their new game Southfield that has an upcoming demo on Steam during Next Fest. Radical Forge won Best Mid-Sized Game Studio in the 20th Anniversary Awards. Bruce was also recognized as GameDevHero for leadership in 2023 at Develop.

What is great about working in the games industry?

There is a great sense of camaraderie in the games industry and between companies. Making games is creatively fulfilling and there is always a sense of breaking new ground.

What advice would you give to people starting out in the industry?

If you are starting a company, the next couple of years are going to be challenging so you need to be able to bankroll yourselves. For those starting out in games careers, pick a studio not on the games being made, but on the culture of the organization. That is more important than the game because it’s the attitude you pick up, your work-life balance and what you learn.

What does Radical Forge do beyond games to support the region?

We really encourage business growth in the area. We support the community by working with local people whenever possible. We recently worked with Wander Films for new videography on our socials. Myself and Ollie Bennett have worked on GameBridge to bring together game developers in the region over the last 10 years. Over 600 developers came to our last meet up, from all over the country. One of our artists Mara does alcohol free meet ups in the area for devs too. We also work with local universities and colleges to help course leaders and students in their learning and skills development. We’ve hired students once they’ve finished up their T levels, making sure there’s routes into the industry without degrees needed.

What has been a highlight of your career so far?

The team nominated me for the leadership GameDev Heroes Award which was really nice, I didn’t expect to win. I am proud of the games we’ve made and worked on too, it is fantastic speaking to parents who say that games like Gangbeasts or Minecraft Dungeons helps them connect with their kids. It has been great to create our own IP Southfield, I can’t wait to see how players react. We’re releasing a demo on Steam during Next Fest, which starts on the 5th of February, so it’s not long till we see what they think.

What do you think about the role of Game Republic?

I love Game Republic – it serves a key purpose bringing studios together. The scene here is so strong, and it is vital that we continue to meet, learn from each other and contract each other for work. Game Republic keeps us all together.

Why is it good to set up a games business in The North?

It’s cheaper to live in the North, which means it provides a better quality of life for our team. Just the other day in the news it said people in Middlesbrough are bringing home more money after paying bills and rent than those down in London. Yet it only takes about 3 hours to get from here to London by train. The people up here work hard and are always looking to improve the area and the games scene. It is so beautiful with the Lake District, the coast, the Peak District. Middlesbrough in particular is a growing game dev hub, with students coming from the local university and setting up indie studios, through to big companies like Behaviour coming to the area. It’s a great place to set up.

Series of Northern Lights supported by Red Kite Games, Barclays and Escape Technology