Tim Jules Hull
Sculptor, Video Games Designer, Games Explorer.
I trained in fine arts, sculpture, at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, but didn’t fancy the hard slog of being a full-time artist and opted for applying my creative skills to a more commercial prospect.
My heart was set on stop motion animation at the time, but the industry was in one of its downsizing periods.
By chance I stumbled upon a company, Bits, in need of an illustrator, but had no idea the firm was in the business of making video games. When the penny dropped, a flood of all my gaming memories washed over me, from RPG dice games, ancient arcade games like Space Invaders, to home systems like Acorn, ZX81, C64, Atari VCS, Atari ST and now the SNES. I couldn’t believe my luck to have landed a chance at making a video game myself, especially when I never imagined that such an occupation existed.
I started out as a paper artist, but at that time the industry was a kind of vertical market, so if I felt better suited to designing a game and managing its production, I could move into that position within 3 months.
After 3 years I co-founded my own games development company, M4 Limited with James Cox and later Kieron Wheeler. Our dream was to make wholly original titles, but as many developers know, it’s not as easy as it sounds. We had a few stabs at original titles, but were mostly confined to working on other licenses such as Mission Impossible or Resident Evil. Eventually, after 7 years, the business closed due to personnel and business health reasons. By this time, I had worked on titles across 8, 16, 32 and 64bit systems. It had been an enjoyable ride, though proved very tough at times.
I didn’t fancy getting another job, or starting another business and never had the chance to travel much, thought it might be a good time to take off. I had just started learning how to drive a motorcycle, got my license and thought
“perhaps I could go somewhere on motorcycle”
I poked my head into Stanfords map shop in Covent Garden to find several books on overland travel by Chris Scott, Robbie Marshall and my favourite Jupiter’s Travels.
I devoured those books in a few days. I was hooked and already had a map of the world up on the wall to plan a rough route.
However, travelling for travelling’s sake was not enough for me. I needed a project to keep my mind occupied and perhaps have something substantial to show for my time on the road. I hatched many crazy ideas, but it was my friends who would say
“why don’t you do something about games?”
At first I disliked the idea
“No I’ve had enough of games, I want to do something else”
But later as the idea seeped in, I realised I knew absolutely nothing about the origins of games, and what kind of games could be found in other countries. I began to search for information on the internet. Back in 2003 there was very little info about indigenous games culture, and even today there is not that much more. I went to the library and found the odd book about the European ones I already knew about.
It dawned upon me in that moment that I had a great job to do along this journey I was about to embark on. I could learn about people’s culture through their games whilst travelling and make a great story about it. I even imagined a museum of indigenous games culture to become home to all this knowledge, ever the delusions of grandeur.
I then set about building a website, more planning and procrastinating.
But then I realised the time was now, I had to move before I got stuck in the planning and before my savings ran out.
I’ve been on the road now ever since 2003, stumbling upon local games and sports, documenting them as I go.