Restart – training scheme for those wishing to get into the games industry

Video game development is a fast growing and vibrant industry which reaches audiences across the world. Within Northern Ireland there is an exciting and emerging video game development community which is creating games that are being played globally. This growing industry offers opportunities, both locally and internationally, for those that wish to break in and start a career.

Restart is a 4-month training programme for 30 individuals who wish to start a career in the video games industry and is open to participants from anywhere within Northern Ireland and from any background. You do not need any particular qualifications or prior video game development experience or training to apply, we want people who are passionate about video games and who are interested to learn more about the skills required to have a career in the industry. Restart is aimed at people 19-30 years who are not in full time education or full-time employment.

During the programme participants will be trained in how to use the Unity Game Engine with the opportunity to become a Certified Associate Game Developer. Participants will also work as a team to create and develop a short game within 8 weeks.

The goal of the programme is to give participants an introduction into game development and an understanding of the skills and knowledge needed to have a career in the industry. There will also be talks from industry professionals covering different roles within video game development, as well as workshops on interview/portfolio preparation. As part of Restart there will be an opportunity to engage with local education and industry partners to identify education and career pathways.

The programme is free to take part in and participants will be paid a part-time salary to attend (NMW/NLW). Participants will need to be available to take part in training, workshops and projects on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 7th Dec 2020 – 31st March 2021, excluding public holidays.

Due to Covid the programme will be delivered remotely. Participants without access to equipment will be provided with the appropriate equipment.

We are an equal opportunities employer and we welcome applications from all suitably qualified persons regardless of their sex; religious or similar philosophical belief; political opinion; race; age; sexual orientation; or, whether they are married or are in a civil partnership; or, whether they are disabled; or whether they have undergone, are undergoing or intend to undergo gender reassignment.

However, as women are currently under-represented in this sector, we would particularly welcome applications from women.

Deadline for applications: 12 noon on Friday 6th November

For more information and details of how to apply please visit the skills section of our website.


Tranzfuser 2020 deadline extended

***Deadline for applications has been extended to Wednesday 29th April at 12 noon***

Tranzfuser 2020 is now open for applications! Organised by UK Games Talent and Finance CIC (UKGTF) and funded by the UK Government, Tranzfuser is aimed at graduates looking to break into the games development industry, with a strong focus on getting their game to market.

The competition supports team members who aspire to build a commercially sustainable studio or simply pursue a career as an employee or freelancer and want to use their project as evidence of their talent.

Northern Ireland Screen acts as a regional hub for Tranzfuser in Northern Ireland, offering an inspirational central space and focal point for Tranzfuser teams to locate in or meet periodically whilst working elsewhere; providing a dynamic learning environment that cultivates this diverse community, acting as a hot house for innovative games IP development and resulting in high level of achievement over a short period of time/

Teams of talented graduates are invited to apply to take part in the summer-long competition to work collaboratively on turning their game ideas in to actual working projects.

At the end of development, teams will showcase their prototype games at a prestigious consumer games show where they will pitch for a grant of up to £20,000 from the UK Games Fund.

Successful applicants will be awarded a £5,000 budget to allocate as they choose throughout the competition.

To apply for Tranzfuser 2020, click HERE.

***Deadline for applications has been extended to Wednesday 29th April at 12 noon***

Hypixel Studios to establish headquarters in Derry~Londonderry with support from Riot Games

Creators of the anticipated game Hytale to set up their first physical office with support from Riot Games

Hypixel Studios, the videogame developer behind upcoming title Hytale, will establish its headquarters in Derry~Londonderry as part of its acquisition by US-based developer and publisher Riot Games.

Hypixel Studios was established in 2018 as a spin-off of Hypixel Inc, the creators of one of the world’s most popular independent game servers, with a leadership team including Derry~Londonderry natives Aaron ‘Noxy’ Donaghey and Sean McCafferty. The studio has traditionally operated entirely remotely, with a geographically-dispersed team of over 40 developers. In December 2018, the company announced its debut title, Hytale, a community-powered game that allows players to go on adventures in a block-based fantasy world, express their creativity through extensive built-in customisation tools, and compete in quick and accessible online minigames.

Hytale has received a monumental reception from the gaming community. It has amassed over 2.5 million sign-ups for its forthcoming beta testing program, and its debut trailer has received millions of views on YouTube. It was nominated for ‘Most Anticipated Game’ at the 2019 Golden Joystick Awards. In November 2019, Hypixel Studios announced that it is planning for Hytale to be playable by everyone in 2021.

Hypixel Studios today announced its acquisition by Riot Games, the developer and publisher best known for League of Legends. Hypixel Studios will continue to operate as an independent studio while leveraging Riot’s expertise, technology and resources to support the development of Hytale, including the establishment of the company’s first physical office in Derry~Londonderry.

“When the question of where to set up came into the conversation there was no doubt in my mind that we should set up in Derry~Londonderry,” said Hypixel Studios Chief Executive Officer Aaron ‘Noxy’ Donaghey. “Many members of our team have enjoyed visiting the city over the years, and as a base to develop many of our team’s functions, it has both the talent pool and – more importantly – the spark of hunger necessary to ignite creativity.”

“As part of our acquisition, we had the opportunity to pick almost anywhere in the world, but one of my favourite sayings is ‘when the roots are deep, you need not fear the wind’ – and Hypixel’s roots in Derry and Northern Ireland are deep,” Donaghey said. “It may seem strange to be announcing such a move in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, but games and home entertainment are now more important than ever and we have a community of millions to be looking after. Our company HQ will be the nexus for these ongoing efforts.”

The present COVID-19 crisis means that an opening date for the new office cannot currently be set. When it opens, the Hypixel Studios office will act as a base for back-office functions and quality assurance throughout the development process. Hypixel Studios is initially hiring 20 highly skilled new positions in these areas, all based in Derry~Londonderry. The company anticipates further growth as development of Hytale continues and the needs of the project evolve.

“Our offices in Derry will be the backbone that allows our remote development team to work effectively,” said Hypixel Studios Chief Operating Officer Sean McCafferty. “There, we will not only have our back-office services such as finance, recruitment and general operations, but as we move through the year we will be ramping up areas such as quality assurance while providing a space for our remote workers to congregate a few times a year.”

“I’ve been in game development for 20 years at this stage, always working around the north west and Derry~Londonderry specifically,” McCafferty said. “It has been my greatest wish to bring game development, wholesale, to the place in which I grew up. Having worked in the space for this length of time and to be finally in a position to help bring a game studio to ‘the town’ is something incredibly special to me – a life-long wish that is finally coming true.”

Hypixel Studios’ office in Northern Ireland is being established with support from Northern Ireland Screen, the national screen agency for Northern Ireland.

Richard Williams, CEO of Northern Ireland Screen, said; “We are absolutely delighted that Hypixel Studios is setting up its latest hugely ambitious games venture in Derry~Londonderry with the support of Riot Games, one of the biggest game publishers in the world.  We are in no doubt that this hard won next step for Aaron and Sean is hugely important for the video games sector in Northern Ireland.   Hypixel Studios and Riot Games can do for the games sector here what HBO and Game of Thrones did for the TV drama sector.“

In addition, advice has been provided by Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Kevin O’Connor, Head of Business for Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “Derry City and Strabane District Council have been delighted to coordinate with Hypixel Studios over the last number of months. The selection of the North West is a further endorsement of the City/Region as a key investment location. The availability of a highly skilled talent pool, world-class digital connectivity and unparalleled quality of life have obviously featured heavily in this decision. This is an exciting development for the City providing well-paid jobs in a growing sector of the economy “

For more information on Hypixel Studios and Hytale, visit

Watch the Hytale trailer here:

Belfast studio selected for Tranzfuser 2019

Tranzfuser, the graduate talent development competition from UK Games Talent and Finance CIC (UKGTF) and funded by the UK government, has announced the winning teams taking part in this year’s competition across the UK Local Hub network including a WagTails, based at The Pixel Mill in Belfast.

Participating teams will work on their individual games over the course of the summer, getting a playable demo for a large consumer games show in the Autumn. There they will vie for the attention of the playing public, standing alongside the AAA games of 2019.

WagTails is a sweet endearing game where you play as a ghost cat chasing ghost mice all over your beloved owners home. Even though you’re dead your job isn’t done.

This ageless game targets the casual gaming audience. You’ll only have a certain amount of time to capture all the mice and as you follow your owner throughout the house the mice are finding better places to hide forcing you to think outside of the box to catch them.

The WagTails team commented; “We feel very grateful and excited as a team to be part of the Tranzfuser project! We are looking forward to developing our skills, getting into the industry and showing what a small team from NI can do!”

Northern Ireland Screen’s start up space for game developers, The Pixel Mill, acts as a regional hub for Tranzfuser in Northern Ireland.

This year’s competition also sees the teams attend a bootcamp-style Practice Pitch event in Dundee; in preparation for the full pitch to the UK Games Fund team at the Autumn consumer show for support of up to £25,000 for the development of their project, the teams will practice their pitching skills to a range of industry professionals.

The Practice Pitch event will determine which teams go on to exhibit at the consumer games show later this year.

Deborah Farley, Head of Talent and Outreach at Tranzfuser, said:

“This is now our fourth year of running Tranzfuser. Each year we iterate and improve our offering to match the consistent levels of talented graduates we see coming through the competition. This year our offering has expanded starting with the Jamfuser game jam back in March, during the summer programme we will be piloting our new Games Biz Academy which will offer the teams online learning, linked into our badge accreditation system via our UKGTF Badge Academy.

At our Practice Pitch event our teams will get the all too real-world experience of pitching; we want all of them to learn and grow based on the experience, however daunting it may initially seem.”

The full list of teams and Local Hubs can be found here.

The Pixel Mill is open!

The Pixel Mill, a creative co-working space in Ormeau Baths Innovation Centre designed to hot house local game development teams, was officially opened on Friday 23rd November. Seven start-ups are already in place taking advantage of free working space, a business support programme which is second to none and access to finance to develop their ideas and games content. The Pixel Mill is funded by Northern Ireland Screen with support from the Department for the Economy.

Situated in Belfast City centre, facilities on site include a state of the art user testing lounge powered by Dolby, access to 100mb per second broadband, modern co-working space, breakout and creative spaces for informal working and meeting, boardroom and event space.

The seven occupant companies are; Blackstaff Games, Brain and Nerd, Capstone Games, Cupboard Games, Northern Softworks, Rocket Flair Studios and Whitepot Studios. Over the coming months it is hoped that more developers will take up residence in what is undoubtedly one of best supported games incubators in the UK and Ireland.

Speaking at the launch event, Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of UKIE (The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment) said; “The global games industry is thriving and there has never been a better time to support emerging companies and talent so they can access the opportunities the global digital economy offers. Initiatives like this are critical in supporting young companies and creating a sense of community and potential collaborations between them.  This venture provides an opportunity to develop and support games clusters that are the building blocks for innovation and creativity, which can make a real difference to the industry right across the UK and Northern Ireland.”

Ormeau Baths is also home to Digital Catapult NI’s Immersive Lab which will give residents of The Pixel Mill the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the latest immersive technology including Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality enabling them to demonstrate, innovate and test their own business ideas and research.

The Pixel Mill is Northern Ireland Screen’s key commitment to the Future Screens NI programme, a creative industries R&D partnership between Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast and local industry, which aims to advance and grow the creative industries sector in Northern Ireland.

Richard Williams, CEO of Northern Ireland Screen said; “We are delighted to open Northern Ireland’s first games incubator, thanks to the Department for the Economy’s support of our Opening Doors Phase 2 strategy this has been made possible. We hope that being housed here with these wonderful facilities and alongside Digital Catapult NI’s Immersive Lab and access to R&D funding from Future Screens NI we’ll see these start-up companies grow to achieve global success.”

Steve Pette, co-founder of Ormeau Baths, said: “Our objective for Ormeau Baths is to be a thriving, diverse start-up community and a hub for talented tech entrepreneurs, so we are really excited that Northern Ireland Screen has chosen to establish the Pixel Mill here. Gaming is a multi-billion-pound industry which holds massive potential for Northern Ireland and with the Pixel Mill and Immersive Lab anchoring side two of the expanded Ormeau Baths building, we intend to play an active role in helping the sector move up to the next level.”

The Pixel Mill will also serve a larger role as a gaming community meeting place, a window to the Northern Ireland gaming ecosystem, and a platform for gaming initiatives here.