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Meet Bob Makin, General Manager, Behaviour UK

Behaviour marked the first anniversary of its UK operations recently and we figured it was an opportune moment to sit down with Bob Makin, Behaviour UK’s General Manager, who has been key to making it all happen. Bob told us about his career in the UK gaming industry (so far!), what it’s like working for Behaviour, and his once-promising past in fencing. En garde! 

How did you get into the video game industry?

The roots go back to my childhood – my grandfather had a BBC Micro and he let us borrow it and play all the old games on the tapes and rewind them and all that stuff, like Granny’s Garden, Roland’s Ropes and Chuckie Egg. Chuckie Egg was the best. 

It just so happened that I lived in an area – Teesside – that was a hub for the UK’s video game industry. Darren Falcus and his brother ran a small studio that evolved into Acclaim, which was one of the biggest studios in the 90s, and that was on my doorstep. I’d literally drive past all the time. And Teesside University here was one of the first universities in the UK to really jump on games education. 
So, I knew that video games were an option from quite a young age, and while all my mates have grown up and become lawyers and teachers and doctors and got proper jobs, I thought, hang on a second, I’m going to do this! 

You started in animation, right? 

Yeah, I went to Teesside University to do animation. It was one of the best animation courses in the country, and it was on my doorstep. I looked elsewhere, but I thought why get into loads of student debt when I could just stay home and live here. That was quite financially savvy for a student! 
I also did a thing called Animation Mentor, which had just started, which was an online course from some guys from Pixar and ILM. It was based in California so it was all online and quite forward-thinking that way. I got a really good portfolio and a really good network and that network got me my first job.  

After doing some bits and bobs freelance, my first proper job in games was working at Jagex on Runescape and another company called Iguana, which was a spin off from Acclaim. One of the games I worked on was Worms – one of the first FB games in the early 2010s. That got acquired by Team 17 and after about 18 months we thought it would be a good idea to start our own company, and that became SockMonkey in 2013. Ten years later, we became Behaviour!

Were you interested in art?

Yeah! When I was looking at uni, I had two choices – games design or animation. I thought that if I did animation, it would be less niche and open the door to other industries like film, TV, games, movies, as well as games. I always knew I wanted to go into games, but I also thought would it be more interesting working in movies because you would be doing more character-driven work rather than mechanics-driven. But I got into games and animation and later moved into production. I learned the dev side of things as an animator, learned how things worked, and then sidestepped into production – I started as an assistant producer and went from there. 

What was your Gateway video game? Is there one game that opened your eyes and blew your mind?

Mario 64. I was talking with my nephew about this other day: he’s 8 and he’s playing all these Mario games and he couldn’t get his head around the fact that I’ve played them all and I was there for Mario 64. He’s like, “But that’s really old!” But that transition from 2D to 3D – I spent ages on the startup screen just pulling and stretching Mario’s face for about two hours before I even pressed the start button. We used to do the little Michael Jackson spin and moonwalking moves. We didn’t play it – we would just run him around and do all the moves. I probably put hundreds of hours in Mario 64 and before even getting past the first level because we’re just messing about and just having fun with it.

Tell us something surprising about yourself. What do people not know about Bob?

I used to fence as a kid – wearing white and that metal mesh helmet. En garde! and all that. It was really cool. I wish I hadn’t given that up. It was very serious stuff: I beat the North-East’s #1 in a competition, but for some reason that didn’t make me the North-East’s #1. If it was real-life sword fight, I would have killed him, which meant I would have taken his mantle. And he never beat me, so as far as I’m concerned I’m still the North-East’s #1 because I was never defeated after that! 

What do you love about your work? 

I love how my role evolves. You know, every new project, every new hire, every new event that’s happening in the industry. You have to be really quick. You’ve got to think on your feet and pivot.  I get bored just doing the same things over and over, and this is not that. I’m working with people and managing a team and now managing studios. Every day is different. It’s constantly evolving and, as we grow, you have to think about things differently. I’ve gone from a small indie team of two people to the AAA world, managing a team of over 80. There’s never a quiet moment, and I love it. 

What’s surprised you about Behaviour (so far)? 

It’s a really big company but it doesn’t feel that way. Some here were afraid of going from our small little studio and joining a much bigger one. But it hasn’t felt that way at all. Everyone is really friendly and work super well together – it’s very collaborative. When I’m in Montreal and talking to people, the vibe is just really natural and people have a genuine love for their work and Behaviour. And there’s no ego. There could be – Behaviour makes Dead by Daylight after all! – but there isn’t. It’s just full of really talented people who also happen to be the nicest people I’ve met in the industry!