Key figure in games industry backs Heroes project

One of the UK interactive entertainment industry’s best known content creators has joined a Scottish charity’s bid to create a digital academy in Helensburgh.

A campaign to raise £2m to build the Heroes Centre, which aims to provide people of all ages with the media, production and content creation skills needed to contribute in today’s digital economy, was launched last month.

Glasgow-born, Fergus McNeill, 44, who spent his early years in Helensburgh, has now become the latest project ambassador – he has been involved with the UK gaming scene since he was 14 years of age when, inspired by the classic ‘Hobbit’ game, he designed, created and marketed his first game.

Having dropped out of college to pursue a career with a commercial publisher, Fergus has since built a reputation for both for his own content, and his adaptations of other authors’ material, including working with Terry Pratchett to create the first Discworld game.

Fergus McNeill
Fergus McNeill has created games for a wide range of platforms

During his career Fergus has designed, directed and illustrated games for all systems, working with companies such as CRL, Silversoft, Macmillan Group, Activision and EA.

Now chief executive officer at Finblade, an iPhone game development studio, Fergus is passionate about the teaching of IT skills in British schools.

He said: “Today, IT is either a barrier to success or an opportunity for success. If we fail to provide young people with the opportunity to engage with IT, we stifle their potential and condemn so many vital talents to stay hidden.

“For years, we’ve focused on teaching people to be customers and consumers, rather than creators and innovators.

Doing so anchors our children at the wrong end of the IT food chain, and steadily pushes jobs and industry overseas. It’s vital that we turn this around, encouraging young people to engage with IT, making them comfortable and confident enough to use technology.”

Phil Worms, director of the charity Helensburgh Heroes, said: “We’re delighted that Fergus has joined our campaign to get the Heroes Centre built. He is the perfect role model for any young person who loves gaming and wants to pursue a career in interactive entertainment.

“The fact that the skills he has developed over the years in the gaming industry have led to a second career as a successful author demonstrates that creativity and imagination are not confined to any one medium.”

In 2012, Fergus embarked on a second career as a writer of contemporary crime fiction, when his first novel, Eye Contact,was published by Hodder & Stoughton, the first in three series book deal.