Posted: 24th June 2021

Debbie Bestwick MBE, founder-CEO of award-winning developer and independent games label Team17, has been announced as the opening keynote speaker of Develop:Brighton 2021 by organisers Tandem Events.

In addition to opening the conference, which runs from Tuesday 26 October to Thursday 28 October at the Hilton Brighton Metropole in Brighton, Debbie will also be honoured as the third recipient of the Develop Star Award.

The Develop Star Award honours an extraordinary individual for their outstanding achievement and contribution to the industry. The award has previously been awarded to Bethesda Games Studios’ Todd Howard in 2020, Hello Games’ Sean Murray in 2019, and will be presented this year during the Develop:Star Awards on Wednesday 27 October.

The opening keynote will be titled ‘The Spirit of Independence: Challenges and Inspiration from Three Decades at the Top’. This fireside chat will cover Debbie’s 30+ years in the industry and the success of Team17 as both a developer and publisher of award-winning games including the Worms franchise, Yooka-Laylee, The Escapists and Overcooked.   

“Gaming has been my life from the age of seven, I fell in love with the business of the games industry at the age of 12 and knew 100% what my destiny would be,” said Debbie Bestwick MBE.

“There is no other creative industry that challenges you like our industry does. When you look at previous winners, they’re icons of games development, so to be recognised in this way is incredibly humbling. I’m just the child that grew up loving everything from playing games – to helping make games – to helping build a better environment for games creators!”

Tandem Events is also delighted to announce the first speakers for this year’s event, including another keynote from industry veteran and co-founder of Oddworld Inhabitants Lorne Lanning alongside his Studio Director Bennie Terry III discussing the development of platformer Oddworld: Soulstorm.

  • Keynote: The Story of Oddworld: Soulstorm | Lorne Lanning & Bennie Terry III - Oddworld Inhabitants
  • Business Track: Rising Global Challenges to Game Creation | Kate Edwards - Geogrify / Global Game Jam
  • Discoverability Track: Why Marketing Your Studio is Just as Important as Marketing Your Games | Abbie Dickinson - Rebellion
  • Design Track: 10,000 Players, One Match: Experiments in Game Design with Massive Interactive Live Events | Bernd Diemer - Improbable
  • Audio Track: Dialogue Performance and Design for Creatures, Monsters and Demons | Will Tidman - Creative Assembly
  • Mobile Track: Hyper-Social: Designing games for young Millennials and Gen Z | Ioana Cazacu – Mojiworks
  • Coding Track: Test Driven Development: A Mindset to Develop Games from the Start, Middle, or End | Nikky Armstrong - Ubisoft Reflections
  • Art Track: State of the Art “ The Future of Visual Development | Nader Alikhani – Atomhawk
  • Indie Track: Running a Black Owned Games Studio | Taylor Campbell – Orthors
  • Roundtable: How Destigmatising Mental Health Can Transform Your Games Company | Gina Jackson & Sarah Sorrell - Safe in our World

You can view all the speakers confirmed so far here:, the full list of speakers and the conference programme will be announced in July.

“We’re excited to be bringing the industry its first major opportunity to reconnect, share and learn together following such a difficult time for all of us,” said Tandem Events Managing Director Andy Lane.

“In Debbie Bestwick we have an opening keynote representing the best of British, whose impact on the games industry cannot be overstated. We’re all excited to see her discuss her illustrious career when the conference opens in October.”

Following a digital event in 2020, Develop:Brighton will return in a physical format at the Hilton Brighton Metropole from Tuesday 26 to Thursday 28 October 2021. A range of passes for the conference and expo are now on sale, available at 30% off with our Early Bird Rate until Wednesday 21 July. 

Now in its 16th year, Develop:Brighton promises the same inspiring and fun-filled three days by the sea. The game dev community will enjoy insightful keynotes given by the best in the business, diverse roundtables and sessions offering practical advice and inspiration to help game makers make better games. The conference offers eight tracks – Design, Coding, Art, Mobile, Business, Discoverability, Indie and Audio.

Develop:Brighton will also see the return of much anticipated networking opportunities, from the formal meeting planner - [email protected] - to the many afterhours social events including the Develop:Star Awards on the Wednesday evening.

For the latest on tickets, speaker announcements and The Develop:Star Awards 2021, visit: and follow @DevelopConf on Twitter.

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About Develop:Brighton conference & expo

The Develop:Brighton conference is where the European developer community comes together to learn from each other and share experiences, be inspired by world renowned experts and gurus, get up-to-date with the latest development tools and techniques, make new contacts and catch up with old ones.

With a programme that is shaped by some of the industry's key figures, the conference touches all levels of the development community from the largest studios to the smallest indies; from development directors to programmers.

About The Develop:Star Awards

Taking place alongside the conference, the new Develop:Star Awards will recognise the very best of the game development community. The achievements of developers and success of great games and creativity will be celebrated across 18 categories, including one ultimate ‘Develop Star’. This award will honour an extraordinary game developer for outstanding achievement and contribution to the industry.

Twitter: @developconf

Facebook: developconference


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