Ripstone’s Year In Review: 2023

That’s a wrap for Ripstone’s 2023! But before we welcome an exciting new year, we’re taking a look back on what made this a significant one for Ripstone.

From game launches to award wins, 2023 brought with it some big moments for Ripstone.

Our teams have made us extremely proud and have given us simply too much to cover in a single article, but here’s a pocket full of our highlights from 2023!

We Launched The Queen’s Gambit Chess

After its release date was revealed in Netflix’s ‘Celebrate Summer Games’ announcement, The Queen’s Gambit Chess, our love letter to the award-winning Netflix show, launched on 25th July 2023.

It was a game of firsts for us! It marked our first foray into the world of mobile games and the debut game of our new development studio, Rockwater Games.

Naturally, we celebrated in true Ripstone style!

To commemorate the launch, we asked the Rockwater development team to share their thoughts about one another.

We Were Recognised As One of Gi.Biz’s Best Places to Work for 2023

Back in September, Ripstone was recognised as one of’s ‘Best Places to Work’ for 2023. We attribute this third consecutive win to all of the brilliant people who work here, both across our studios and remotely!

In 2023 our teams have once again gone beyond, harnessing their skills and distinctiveness to enhance our Ripstone culture and advance our dedication to mental health, well-being, and diversity.

Here’s a quick look at the ceremony and what members of our Liverpool studio had to say when asked what makes Ripstone a special place to be…

We Continued to Level Up Our Mental Health Support

Ensuring that all our workspaces are safe spaces for everyone has been and always will be a priority at Ripstone.

Last year, following our Best Places to Work Award win, we committed to continuing our efforts to level up. A year on, over 65% of our staff have now received some form of mental health awareness training.

In May of this year, we took another step forward when we were joined by our very own in-house psychology coach, James Marquis. Since becoming a part of Ripstone, James has been on hand to offer one-on-one guidance and group sessions for anyone who requires support.

Portrait image of James Marquis, Ripstone's in-house Psychology Coach
James Marquis, Ripstone’s Psychology Coach

Following this, Ripstone sponsored BAFTA’s first-ever Mental Health Summit presented by Safe In Our World. At the event in London, James appeared on a panel to talk about both the universal and the industry-specific challenges that people in games face.

With James’ help, we’ll continue our commitment to continuously improving support for our teams. His efforts have already begun to empower us to bring even more of our best selves to work; all while keeping the joy of creating at the heart of everything we do.

Looking to enact positive change in your organisation? Check out James’ article, Four Steps to a Mentally Healthy Workplace, which was recently featured in Gi.Biz’s Academy.

We Became a Founding Member of GameChangers

September saw the launch of the Liverpool Combined Authority’s ‘GameChangers’ initiative; a new partnership that aims to unite studios, educators, and industry entities to coordinate efforts and tackle issues that face the games industry.

Since its beginnings back in March, Jamie Brayshaw, Ripstone Head of Marketing & GameChangers Chair, and Gary King, Ripstone Brand Champion, have been among the dedicated GameChangers team who have helped bring the initiative to fruition.

In October, we caught up with some of those involved for their thoughts on the process of getting the new initiative up and running.

Gary added;

“Being a part of GameChangers and witnessing its transformation from the inception of an idea into a flourishing partnership has truly been awe-inspiring. It’s being propelled by diverse perspectives, yet unified by a singular goal that has catapulted us forward within a remarkably short span. This sense of inclusion permeates every facet of what GameChangers represents, and the initiative has been thoughtfully crafted as an open, welcoming gateway for all who share its vision.”

We can’t wait to work alongside the initiative and its partners throughout 2024!

We Made A 5-Year Commitment to LCR Pride Awards

Earlier this year the Liverpool City Region’s Pride Awards made their post-pandemic return. Ripstone’s connection with this celebration dates back to 2019 when we sponsored the Young Person of the Year award. It was a joyous moment for us to continue supporting the foundation, marking their first in-person gathering in nearly four years.

The LCR Pride Foundation holds a pivotal role in the Liverpool City Region, championing equality, diversity, and inclusion within the LGBTQ+ community. Our active collaboration with LCR Pride has been ongoing since its inception, aligning seamlessly with our steadfast commitment to fostering an inclusive culture across all our workspaces.
At the event in March, Jamie Brayshaw, Ripstone’s Head of Marketing and Business Development, took the stage to announce our five-year commitment to sponsoring the Young Person of the Year Award.

Jamie Brayshaw, Ripstone Head of Marketing, speaking at LCR Pride Awards
Photo: Bryan Fowler

As we embark on this exciting journey alongside the LCR Pride Foundation for the next five years, our dedication remains unwavering in promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion. This commitment extends not only within our organization but also echoes throughout the broader landscape of the games industry.

Read more about our commitment and the story of this year’s incredible winner, Dys Alexia, here.

We Supported SpecialEffect

Throughout 2023, Ripstone has been proud to be able to rally behind SpecialEffect through a bunch of brilliant fundraising events.

This kicked off in April, with Ripstone FC taking part in One Big Game, an expansive 24-hour football fundraiser held at St. George’s Part, the prestigious training ground of England’s national teams.

Despite us falling short of a formidable opponent in Rare, it was an incredible experience for all involved, resulting in SpecialEffect raising over £30,000!

In May, the football fervour continued as Ripstone FC took to the pitch once more, to take part in SpecialEffect’s Liverpool Football 5’s tournament. Then, in August, four members of Ripstone’s team descended 130 feet from the top of Liverpool FC’s iconic Anfield stadium for SpecialEffect’s One Special Abseil.

Separate from our Ripstone efforts, our team members Jake Parrott and Jamie Brayshaw took the initiative to create, promote, and host the ‘One Boss Games Quiz‘!

This humorous, chaotic (and notoriously difficult) pub quiz, quickly gained traction within the Liverpool Game Dev scene and, in just two events since October, the quiz has remarkably generated over £4700 in support of SpecialEffect. We’re immensely proud, and can’t wait for more in 2024!

We Launched Rockwater’s Artstation!

In August, following the release of The Queen’s Gambit Chess, we launched our very own ArtStation to celebrate the art of our Rockwater artists and give up-and-coming artists insight into some of the processes behind making a game.

From deep dives into the game’s characters and environments to interviews with the very people who brought them to life, we’ve enjoyed our first steps on the platform and look forward to sharing more in 2024.

If you haven’t already, be sure to follow us, here! For now, here’s our interview with Dan Eder, the Lead Character Artist: