A leading figure in the gaming industry who was brought up in Newcastle has applauded the massive growth seen in electronic entertainment and what it means for the region.

President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment Jim Ryan shared career highlights, the importance of good leadership, and why arts, culture and creativity are key to regional success  at a North East Chamber of Commerce event.

Speaking at the Chamber’s President’s Dinner, Jim said: “Gaming is the largest form of entertainment and it’s growing fast. Making video games is something the UK is really good at - Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider, Football Manager… we're good at making video games.”

Originally from Kenton, Newcastle, Jim said: “In my opinion Newcastle is the greatest city in the world. People come here to study and work, and it’s got a lot going for it. The amount of employment must be very considerable already.”

He said: “Stimulating regional employment in our industry is a nuanced topic as much of the work is done remotely post-pandemic. When I started work in 1992 there were no computers, just people with calculators, typed schedules and Tipp-Ex.

“AI may have a transformative effect on the gaming industry driving lower costs and higher productivity which in turn will increase employment levels over time as the art of game development reinvents itself.

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“Economies and businesses are living organisms, and they'll adapt to changes around them.

“What you have to do is to say the right things, but much more importantly you have to live the right things. If you do that, little by little it permeates down. You’ve also got to find a competent team with good values. Those people then have to hire the right people who behave in similar manner.

“Good company culture is the single most important thing for me in corporate life. Stay humble, do your best, and enjoy yourself.”

Matthew Telling, group director of business engagement and partnerships at Northern Skills, told attendees about the business’ strong regional presence in the North East.

He said: “As we come to the end of 2023, I wanted to say a massive thank you on behalf of Northern Skills for the help that the Chamber has given us in bringing businesses together and celebrating regional successes. Your support has been phenomenal.”

Andrew Haigh, Chamber president and chief executive of Newcastle Building Society, shared Chamber highlights from the year, plans for the future and reiterated the Chamber's commitment to the North East ahead of a busy 2024.

The President’s Dinner took place at St James’ Park in Newcastle and was sponsored by Northern Skills Group and supported by Jim’s alma mater, Royal Grammar School Newcastle. The Chamber’s large business association sponsor is Learning Curve Group