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Games and creative industries

Find out more about the facilities, talent and tech that make up Scotland’s world-renowned creative industries, from games development to film and TV production.

Did you know?

Scotland is one of the top games and software developer locations in the world and has a reputation for being pioneering, award-winning and, quite literally, game-changing.

  • £5 billion value

    the amount that the creative industries are worth to the Scottish economy.*

  • 175+ gaming-related courses

    across our 16 universities, four are Global Top 250 institutions.

  • 15,000 businesses

    contribute to the Scottish creative industries.*

Source: Creative industries,*

Scotland's opportunity

Our gaming sector continues to grow and offers huge opportunities for investors.

Here are some of the key reasons why you should invest in Scotland.

There are opportunities for global companies looking to innovate around artificial intelligence – particularly, machine learning and deep learning – to create more immersive, realistic and personal experiences for gamers. In Scotland, you’ll discover a diverse and capable company base in a developed and well-connected ecosystem. You’ll also be supported by The Data Lab, Scotland’s innovation centre for data and artificial intelligence.

The Scotland 5G Centre has put our nation at the forefront of mobile communications innovation. This new national hub supports growth in the games, virtual reality (VR) and interactive entertainment sectors through experimental testbed initiatives.

Did you know the UK’s largest mobile developer, Outplay Entertainment, is based in Dundee?

Learn more about its successful move to Scotland 

There are many opportunities for companies looking to capitalise on a robust infrastructure for applications, including online gaming and livestreaming.

Scotland has exciting opportunities for companies that are active or interested in the rapidly growing esports sector.

The city of Dundee, widely recognised as the birthplace of Scotland’s gaming industry, is poised to become a national hub for competitive esports, with plans for a 4000-capacity purpose-built arena – the UK’s first outside London – at Dundee Waterfront.  

The project is being supported by Abertay University. It plans to develop a new range of courses related to the global esports job market. This will give you access to a stream of knowledgeable graduates with specialised skills that can help further your business.

If you locate in Scotland, you’ll be connected to more than 300 game development studios that are looking for prospects with the talent, skills and creativity that can complement their own.

Opportunities exist for companies specialising in areas such as:

  • Animation
  • Digital design 
  • Audio engineering
  • Music production

Scotland is home to a mature games cluster with a development scale that covers licenced, own IP  and middleware. As an investor, you’ll discover new opportunities through access to an already well-established network of tech founders and mentors.

You’ll also discover a range of additional benefits, including:

  • An established network of highly-skilled freelancers 
  • Deconstructed silos – with access to talent from across the creative industries 
  • Cultural investment 
  • Reinvestment of profits 
  • Political and media recognition 
  • Internationalisation
  • Scotland is changing the game

    For the last 20 years, Scotland has been one of the leaders of video gaming innovation. Some of the best-selling video games of all time have emerged from Scotland, such as Grand Theft Auto (GTA), Crackdown, Lemmings and Angry Birds Stella POP. More recently, No Code opens in a new window won the rights to develop a new game for the Silent Hill franchise, while Keelworks opens in a new window won a publishing deal with Japan-based Konami opens in a new window , and Outplay Entertainment is currently the largest independent mobile developer in the UK.

    These global successes have been borne out of a vibrant and connected games environment. Come to Scotland and you’ll join a culture of innovation and creativity. Academic institutions such as Abertay University and the Glasgow School of Art have an outstanding record of industry collaboration.

    By locating in Scotland you’ll find staff costs and property significantly lower than London, San Francisco or Boston. Above Scotland’s thriving urban social scene, we’re famous for our stunning scenery offering you the perfect work-life balance that complements business and lifestyle pursuits in equal measure.

What Scotland can offer your creative company

Join a connected and collaborative community

Scotland is one of the most exciting and cost-effective locations in Europe with an array of business hubs and incubators perfect for games developers. With gaming clusters in Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and beyond, you can rest assured that you’ll find the right match for your company’s requirements, and the ideal environment for growth.

Dundee is widely recognised as the birthplace of Scotland’s gaming industry and is renowned for its expertise in digital media and creative industries. Having gained international recognition as a UNESCO City of Design, Dundee has a solid design pedigree which has drawn many games investors to the area.

Glasgow is home to a large digital technology cluster employing almost 34,000 people, and was named the top cultural and creative centre in the UK in 2020. Boasting the top ranking for both the number of digital tech students and graduates in the UK’s core cities, Glasgow has the skills and talent your business needs.

Edinburgh enjoys a growing reputation as a global tech hub and was recently named as one of the top UK locations for tech companies by CBRE. The cultural network within the Scottish capital is also thriving, fuelled by an energetic and connected creative community.

Read our interview with FanDuel co-founder Nigel Eccles on Edinburgh's tech scene 

Access the skills and talent you need

By choosing Scotland for your games project, you’ll find a community of ambitious, passionate and globally connected leaders. You'll have access to:

  • Around 74,000 highly skilled people already working in digital technology roles
  • The UK’s first Centre for Excellence in Computer Games Education at Abertay University, a founding partner of Sony’s PlayStation First programme
  • Highly sought-after graduates from specialist university courses such as Computer Gaming Technology and Glasgow School of Art’s Games & Virtual Reality programme

Digital skills support for businesses locating to Scotland 

Benefit from ongoing support

Invest in Scotland and you’ll benefit from close connections to the best academic institutions, both in Scotland and abroad. You’ll also enjoy access to dynamic industry clusters and meet potential partners working across mobile, online, educational and console markets.

You will find support from UK bodies such as the Independent Game Developers’ Association (TIGA), the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment (UKIE) and Innovate UK. By locating in Scotland you'll also benefit from the expert support of the following Scottish organisations:

Learn how we can help 

Our centres of excellence

We’re investing in the development of innovation centres and centres of excellence to help businesses do incredible things.

We make connections that result in transformational collaborations between industry and academia to support business performance through the rapid and efficient translation of solutions to industrial and scientific challenges – creating even greater value for companies like yours.

Here are some of the centres that could help your gaming business grow.

The centre at Abertay University is home to experimental testbed initiatives for games and cyber security. Its facilities include an extended reality (XR) lab for experimentation with room-scale virtual reality (VR), motion tracking and multi-user augmented projects.

InGAME is a ground-breaking research and development centre that drives product, technology and process innovation across the Dundee games cluster.

It offers opportunities across many themes, such as:

  • Usability
  • Data-driven games design
  • Sustainable creativity

The Glasgow School of Art explores new and imaginative uses of advanced 3D digital visualisation and interaction technologies. One of its specialist research centres is SimVis – it has a large portfolio of projects with business and industry in Scotland, the rest of the UK and Europe.

SimVis specialises in:

  • Real-time 3D visualisation
  • 3D sound
  • Modelling
  • Motion capture
  • Animation

The Alan Turing Institute pushes boundaries in pioneering technology and continues to make huge leaps in data science and artificial intelligence (AI) research.

The Data Lab drives Scotland’s ambition to be the global leader in data innovation. It helps a network of over 1500 companies, universities and public sector organisations to collaborate.

The Bayes Centre helps the private and public sectors enhance their products and services by embracing data science and AI. It does this by supporting entrepreneurs and start-up projects or by attracting external investments.

The GRID Centre at Heriot Watt University offers design solutions through its augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and gaming studios. It also houses an Enterprise Hub to support business innovation, promote emerging technology and encourage staff and students to pursue the commercial potential of their creative ideas.

Why Texan games tech firm AdInMo moved to Scotland

Gaming veteran Kristan Rivers set up AdInMo, an in-game advertising platform, in 2017 in his home city of Austin, Texas. He opted to switch headquarters to Scotland in November 2019, building its team during lockdown with our help. "AdInMo is very much a child of Covid times," says Kristan.

Watch this video to hear Kristan explain why Scotland is a fantastic location for tech companies to set up and grow.

Scotland's technology expertise

Scottish companies such as ChilliConnect and DeltaDNA (both of which are now owned by Unity Technologies) are leaders in live ops platform development, monetisation and analytics. This enables them to personalise games to optimise revenue streams.

The Data Lab is Scotland’s innovation centre for data and artificial intelligence (AI). It ensures that Scotland’s capabilities in AI are maximised, offering games companies access to exciting graphics innovations which can enhance the realistic experience of the player.

Project Mobius is a £1 million collaboration between the University of Glasgow and Sublime Digital. It’s building a pioneering VR education platform to transform learning globally that enables higher education institutions to harness the power of learning behaviour data.

Scotland is leading the way in the development of facial animation technology. Advances in lip synchronisation, facial expressions and behaviour technology have helped make characters more lifelike.

Speech Graphics, a spinout of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics, has won numerous awards for its speech-driven facial animation technology.

Scotland’s strength in life sciences creates many cross-sectoral opportunities. For example, Konglomerate Games’ innovative product – designed in partnership with Microsoft – turns daily physiotherapy exercises for children with cystic fibrosis into a series of fun computer games.

Educational gaming creates opportunities that drive innovation. Marty the Robot was created by Robotical to teach electronics, robotics and coding. Skoog Music uses assistive technology that brings coding and music to life for children, parents and teachers.

Microdisplay technology is driving immersive VR innovation in Scotland. Companies like Forth Dimension Displays are designing and manufacturing high-resolution, near-to-eye microdisplays for military, medical and virtual reality imagers.

Scottish companies are creating more immersive, realistic worlds through advanced non-player AI. Edinburgh-based Kythera AI offers a complete AI solution for games, from 2D and 3D animation to automatic markup, spatial query system and advanced behaviours.

Based in the Scottish capital, Krotos specialises in software that allows users to easily perform and customise sound. Its award-winning product range, including the Dehumaniser, Reformer, Weaponiser, Igniter and Concept plugins, has become a gaming industry standard.

Filming in Scotland

Our breathtaking landscape with mountains, coastline, ancient forests and unique light conditions have always made Scotland an ideal filming location.

You’ll see Scotland’s landscape used in classic films like Local Hero, The Thirty Nine Steps and in more recent international blockbusters, such as Skyfall and World War Z. Epic TV productions such as Outlander are filmed on location in Scotland too.

More about Scotland's filming locations on opens in a new window  

We also have generous tax rebates opens in a new window for UK productions and experienced, award-winning producers, directors, cast and crew.

Film studio and productions facilities

A large-scale film and TV studio has been given the go-ahead in Edinburgh's Port of Leith. First Stage Studios Ltd, will be led by Oscar-nominated and BAFTA winning film and television producer Bob Last and actor and director Jason Connery.

A major new television and film studio is set to be created in the heart of Glasgow. Council plans are underway to develop a £11.9 million production facility within the city’s historic Kelvin Hall which will deliver a huge boost to the city’s dynamic screen and creative sectors.

Power behind the pictures

Read more in our spotlight on media tech in Scotland 

The Scottish transmedia company blazing a trail across the world

Scotland-based transmedia company, Blazing Griffin has achieved meteoric production success. Its team created the feature film Anna and the Apocalypse, the video game Murderous Pursuits and worked on global TV sensation Outlander. 

And all from its Glasgow headquarters. Blazing Griffin's work with Outlander has given it global recognition, and it's now working with companies across the world, including Netflix, MGM and HBO.

You might also be interested in

  • From California to Scotland

    Games and mobile developer Outplay Entertainment swapped the Golden Coast of California for the east coast of Scotland.

  • Financial and tax incentives

    Want to bring your project to life? You can benefit from a range of attractive incentives to help you upskill your staff, develop new products and services and access growth capital.

  • Digital skills support

    Discover how Scotland's digital talent is benefiting businesses around the world and how Skills Development Scotland can help you access that talent.

Want to find opportunities in Scotland to grow your games or creative business?

Get in touch to see how we can help.