Game Republic

John Sanderson interview

This profile forms part of a series of interviews produced as part of Game Republic’s 20th Anniversary celebrations supported by our Official Partners Barclays, Escape Technology and Red Kite Games.

John Sanderson started PitStop Productions 26 years ago – he named his company after a musical he wrote at the time. Back in 1997 he was working as a composer and song writer but saw an opportunity in creating music for video games – which was pretty unestablished at the time. Since that moment, John’s company has grown to become a one stop shop for all things audio for the games industry from voice direction to sound design. His company employs 85 people and has produced the audio for games worldwide and major titles. Soon the company will have new premises in the district with a new state-of-the-art Sound Design facility. Alongside running the company, he gets involved in the region, providing time to support Barnsley council to influence good ideas that will support the area’s community and economy. John was also one of the founding members of Game Republic.

What is great about working in the games industry?

The community that has evolved around it. Other industries may profess to have this, but the games industry has a community that supports and advocates. It has a whole foundation, a network. I think it is because it is a relatively new industry, most of the time we are still learning and are open to new ideas. We need more diversity in the industry but we recognise this. The industry is open to a whole variety of ideas and issues and is not afraid to tackle them head on.

To succeed in the games industry, you need to have a genuine fascination with it, to enjoy the process and to be motivated by it.

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

Be sure this is what you want to do for the right reasons. Choose the industry before it chooses you. To succeed in the games industry, you need to have a genuine fascination with it, to enjoy the process and to be motivated by it. You need to genuinely want to be part of a process of change, to love that things evolve and the fact that things change.

What work have you been doing for the games industry?

Firstly we evangelise the benefits of the industry and provide support and highlight the power of the games industry. Changing the perception of the games industry is important and can make a huge difference. We can show ways we have thought differently or where things have gone wrong and share it so others can learn from it and we can share best practice.

It it wasn’t for those meetings, those people so many landmarks would not have been reached, so many stories would not have happened.

What has been your career highlight so far?

There have been some really good times. It is always a privilege to work on any game titles. We have worked with Triple A studios on worldwide games which has been great, we have also worked with smaller companies and have been part of some great stories seeing these studios do incredibly well – it is like being surrounded by explosions of greatness. It has been great working with Sumo on their journey, with Charles Cecil and with Red Kite Games. Going back to the early days, Martyn Brown was so welcoming, every business meeting felt like it was in a pub – in fact it might have been in a pub! I was helped by people not with us any more like Gordon Hall. It it wasn’t for those meetings, those people so many landmarks would not have been reached, so many stories would not have happened.

John Sanderson in the studio
John Sanderson at work

What is the influence of companies like yours on the region and the industry?

We provide employment and have a very cool team. We demonstrate how small drops in an ocean can ripple out. We are a small business working on a worldwide stage and can use our story and work to inspire school children or advise politicians – we can strengthen the foundations of a region and the industry.

What do you think of the role of Game Republic?

When you go back to the early days, it has done exactly what it set out to do. It has united and brought people together to share positivity – it has been invaluable. Various people have managed it, Craig did a smooth job on it. Jamie has continued it and has an ability to assemble and knit people together without interference. He puts people together in a room and sees what happens.

Why is Yorkshire and The North a good place to do business?

For the games industry, it has solid foundations, a solid foundation of talent and continual growth. There is nothing stereotypically Yorkshire about that. There has just been a genuine foundation of talent and a strong community.

What’s next for PitStop Productions?

We have a lot of exciting releases in the pipeline – Baldur’s Gate 3 is the only one I can mention right now. We are taking our three Barnsley offices under one roof with our new Sound Design facility. It is great that we no longer have to work in big cities, we have made a conscious effort to locate our resources in the area because now we can work from anywhere. Nowadays I am less hands-on but get to strategise with my whole team so we are ready for the next thing and I am fortunate to work with a cool team of producers, sound designers and engineers.