S4 Economists Receive Virtual Visit from Minecraft Developer

Posted on 26th Nov 2020 in Guest Speaker, Stewart's Melville College, ESMS

In true ESMS spirit Mr Armstrong refused to be defeated by the restrictions on school trips this year. To bring the Scottish Economy topic to life he arranged for his S4 Economics class to receive a virtual visit from Chris Van der Kuyl (the inspiring Scottish entrepreneur who developed the Minecraft Console Edition).

Chris van der Kuyl, was recently awarded a CBE on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list and is one of Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs. He established Scotland as a hub for the gaming industry when he co-founded  4J Studios, a game development studio that developed the console versions of best-selling game, Minecraft.

Van der Kuyl recalled how quickly the gaming industry has grown since he joined it around 25 years ago. Initially valued at around $5 billion - $6 billion, he watched it grow bigger than the music industry, eventually taking over the movie industry until it became the staggering $1.7 trillion worldwide industry it is today.

During his inspirational talk he told pupils that Scotland’s role in the gaming industry should not be understated and discussed how the profits from the movie industry’s biggest releases such as Marvel Cinematic Universe, could not begin to compete with the release of games such as Grand Theft Auto 5, created in the Rockstar North Studio in Edinburgh, which made more revenue in just its first five days on sale.

Discussing his thoughts on the modern economy, he reflected on the speed at which things are changing and the opportunities in turn that this provides. He talked about how the world population has transformed to rely on smartphones, which were only widely-used within the last decade but which he expects in another decade to have been phased out for the newest “wearable” technology. Van der Kuyl is currently working with Augmented Reality, which he predicts will be the “next big thing” within just a couple of years’ time, despite not currently being widely available.

He described the current economy as a “creative knowledge-based economy” where “all the old rules are out the window.” He told the pupils it was more important than ever to develop soft skills, such as critical thinking and teamwork, to enable you to adapt and succeed in this fast-changing modern economy.

We would like to thank Chris Van der Kuyl for taking the time to discuss his entrepreneurial journey and economic insights with our S4 Economists.  We cannot imagine a better way to learn about the Scottish economy. Sadly, Van der Kuyl would not be drawn on the exact release date for the next console edition of Minecraft.

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