Visual Science (game company)

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Visual Sciences Limited
Private
IndustryVideo games
FateAdministration
Founded1993; 27 years ago (1993)
FounderRussell Kay
DefunctFebruary 2006 (2006-02)
Headquarters,
Scotland
Key people
OwnerTim Christian (55%; 2005–2006)
Number of employees
>100 (2006)

Visual Sciences Limited (later branded as Visual Science) was a British video game developer based in Dundee and founded in 1993 by former DMA Design employee Russel Kay. Kay sold a controlling interest in the studio to Tim Christian—who had previously been hired as a non-executive chairman—in January 2005, with Christian becoming its chief executive officer. Following the cancellation of a project by Vivendi Universal Games and Visual Science's subsequent inability to secure further funding, the studio filed for administration and laid off all staff in February 2006.

History[edit]

Visual Sciences was established in 1993 by Russell Kay, a former employee of DMA Design and the creator DMA's 1991 game Lemmings.[1]

In 2003, Visual Science hired Tim Christian (a former managing director of MicroProse and Hasbro Interactive) and Andy Campbell (a former managing director of Red Lemon) as non-executive chairman and commercial director, respectively.[1][2] During Christian's tenure in this role, Visual Science recorded high revenue growth and the addition of large video game publishers to its clients.[1] By July 2004, the company had also doubled its staff count to 75 in its Dundee headquarters and Los Angeles satellite office.[2] In January 2005, Christian acquired 55% of the company's shares—a controlling interest—from Kay. Christian became Visual Science's chief executive officer, while Kay assumed the role of chief technical officer.[3][4]

In January 2006, Vivendi Universal Games cancelled an unannounced project that Visual Science was developing, leaving the latter without funding. Visual Science had just moved into new Dundee offices for which it had not yet signed the lease. Christian informed the company's more than 100 staff to not leave personal belongings in the new building, fearing that the landlord could lock the team out as a result of the project's cancellation. Due to this, some employees believed that they were being laid off and the company shut down, however, Christian stated that this was not the case and that Visual Science would be pitching the project to other companies.[5] As Visual Science could not find replacement work for the cancelled project, it filed for administration by early February, laying off all employees. Christian stated that he was seeking to use the proceeds generated through the administration process to initiate legal action against Vivendi Universal Games, which he believed had terminated their contract baselessly.[1] Some former Visual Science employees went on to found Cohort Studios in 2006 and release its first game—Buzz! Junior: Dino Den—in February 2008.[6][7] Other ex-employees founded Proper Games, also in 2006.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Gibson, Ellie (7 February 2006). "Visual Science to launch legal action against Vivendi". GamesIndustry.biz.
  2. ^ a b Jenkins, David (23 July 2004). "Visual Science Reports Strong Turnover". Gamasutra.
  3. ^ Fahey, Rob (14 January 2005). "Tim Christian takes the helm at Visual Science". GamesIndustry.biz.
  4. ^ "Visual Science". Fast Track. 2005.
  5. ^ Fahey, Rob (27 January 2006). "Visual Science boss quashes closure rumours". GamesIndustry.biz.
  6. ^ Thomson, Billy (21 October 2010). ""Dundee is hurt, but we'll come back stronger"". MCV/Develop.
  7. ^ MCV Staff (18 November 2008). "Cohort cheers latest PS2 release". MCV/Develop.
  8. ^ Stuart, Keith (14 January 2009). "Flock and the art of downloadable game development". The Guardian.