Games alumni named
one of industry’s future stars

A former University for the Creative Arts (UCA) student has been named as one of the brightest lights in the games industry, at its biggest awards ceremony - The Game Awards.

18 Dec 2023

Sally Sheppard, who graduated in 2019 with a BA in Computer Games Arts, was one of 50 people added to the 2023 Future Class - representing the bright, bold, and inclusive future of video games.

“I was incredibly honoured and shocked,” Sally said. I am so thankful to those who nominated me and for the recognition. There are incredible individuals included in the Future Class list; some I have admired for a long time, and some I consider peers in the work we do to push equality and inclusivity within the industry.

“But there is so much still left to do to get women, minorities and members of the LGBTQIA+ communities equal footing in the industry.”

Since graduating, Sally has achieved much. She is the founder and creative director at Wyrden Games and is also the art director at Arrogant Pixel. As well as this, she is a Women in Games ambassador and Into Games, video games ambassador.

“I still feel relatively new to this industry and am always surprised by what I have managed to do in four years. University gives you the tools and the fundamentals but you never stop learning.”

Sally currently has three games in production with Arrogant Pixel and most recently, with Wyrden Games, developed and launched Spellbound: The Magic Within.

Spellbound: The Magic Within by Wyrden Games

Spellbound is a narrative, character-driven, and interactive game full of magic, witchcraft and mystery, set in the mythical location called Witcherley – an idyllic British village that celebrates multiculturalism and diversity.

“The main theme that kept popping up in comments from players was that they felt included and seen by the game more than other games on the market, she explained.

“That was a huge moment for me in Spellbound's development because it helped me solidify in my head what Spellbound could be to its community and how important our actions as creators are.”

Sally’s drive for greater inclusivity in games comes from seeing people treated as less than others and her struggles being dismissed and undervalued as a woman in the industry.

Sally Shepherd at Develop: Brighton

And, while she recognises that the gaming industry is incredibly diverse in so many aspects, there is still so much inequality – some of it unintentional. That includes her responsibility as a Future Class member to spotlight how disappointed she is with the lack of female representation at The Games Awards ceremony itself.

“We have to hold all organisations to the standard we want to see in the industry and, if there is an opportunity for me to squeeze my way through any doors that are shut to us, I will fight to open them up for others too,” she said.

Sally hopes to encourage more women and other diverse game developers to consider a career in the games industry. Women make up just under 30% of the current industry gender split but 50% of gamers are women.

“We know women play and enjoy games - so there is no reason they can't also make them, she added.

“A degree of any kind is a door opener. The foundation skills you learn during your degree will give you the confidence to create, explore and expand upon what games are already doing.

“You are not only obtaining base knowledge for your future career but also ensuring you have the power to seize opportunities that are often closed to those without one.”

Spellbound: The Magic Within by Wyrden Games

With many exciting games in development, book publications on the horizon, and collaborations planned, Sally is putting the work in to help make the industry an even better place.

“The industry is on its way; it’s making changes and improving - not as fast as I would like – but those ripples are becoming waves. I would like to see the games industry continue to put in the work and keep improving.”

To learn more about studying games at UCA, visit our course pages.