Digital Design Futures in Scotland

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


THE SCOTTISH DIGITAL DESIGN SECTOR IS VIBRANT, AN EXPANSIVE FEATURE OF URBAN CLUSTERS LIKE DUNDEE (GAMES & COMICS), EDINBURGH (DATA & FINTECH) AND GLASGOW (WEB DESIGN, AFFILIATES, ALTERNATE AND VIRTUAL REALITY APPLICATIONS). It is largely (99.4%) made up of small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) (Scottish Government, 2017) which can operate with informality and independence, but also face challenges accessing know-how and finance. Smaller digital design companies are more likely to pursue commission work in order to survive, which means that they lose the opportunity to develop a scale-able income through the research and development of new products. As a result, previous studies of Scotland’s creative industries (Chisholm et al., 2014, Creative Scotland, 2016) have repeatedly called for widespread networking support and mentorship schemes in order to help grow the Scottish economy.

Yet, growth takes many forms (Creative Dundee, 2017, EUROCITIES, 2017). A significant number of creative practitioners interviewed for this project talked about growth in terms of portfolio development, or international standing rather than enterprise size. In other words, whilst many practitioners do seek to grow their businesses, many also don’t want to scale. They want to make a living doing what they love.

This quote from a digital designer who plans to build Scotland’s top virtual reality games production company reflects a set of values expressed repeatedly during the course of this study: Scotland’s digital design community is ambitious, but also fiercely committed to creative culture and lifestyle values. It is possible to infer from this that the more that development programmes for Scotland’s digital design sector can align with these values, the more likely they are to succeed.

Aims and method
We wanted to know if it is possible to use data sharing technologies to support growth in the digital design sector, but in a way that affirms practitioner values and lifestyle choices. To find out, we undertook over
40 interviews and a short online survey with industry representatives including recent graduates, creative practitioners, creative technologists, entrepreneurs, academic researchers and government agents. In
addition, we also undertook two additional projects to explore what data sharing technologies - like blockchains and distributed ledgers - might offer for Scotland’s creative industries. These were:

1. A STUDY OF THE COLLABORATION EXPERIENCES of small game design teams and how those experiences might relate to the UK Games Fund’s experimental blockchain based creative licensing system, The Global Tal Registry (Durrant and Hogarth, 2016).

2. A PRELIMINARY DESIGN for a local Dundee digital coin or token, developed over the course of two separate workshop events in the city.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDundee, UK
PublisherScottish Graduate School of the Arts and Humanities
Commissioning bodyCreative Scotland
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Digital design
  • Digital media
  • Scotland


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