It’s great to see a games industry trailblazer now leading the charge in London’s silicon district. Paula Byrne, formerly head of Telecomsoft where she made games for the Atari and Amiga consoles, is now managing director of Amazon’s tech hub, which has been relocated to TechCity, the scruffy area around Old Street that is leading the UK’s digital revolution. Paula is an impressive act and I’m sure she’ll make that office of several hundred smart youngsters fizz with energy; partly because she’s great fun but also because she’s just a little bit scary.
What did make me smile about the coverage of the Amazon move is that many of the pieces included highly stylised pictures of Old Street roundabout, or the Silicon Roundabout, as we’re now meant to call it. For me, however stylised you make it, it will always be just ‘the roundabout’: the venue for every big fight at my school, Central Foundation, which is still there, now wedged between a vast satellite company and a block of yuppie over-priced flats. If a grudge or scuffle escalated to a full scale punch up during school hours, the exchange would stop, a lot of angry staring would take place and someone would say ‘roundabout, 3.30’. The rumour mill would turn at speed throughout the day so that when the final bell went almost the entire school tried to cram itself onto the tiny central isle of Old Street roundabout. Being kids, we never learnt that telling everyone there was going to be a fight inevitably meant that the teachers knew it was taking place as well. So instead of the full on, blazers and shirts off, gladiatorial encounter that we expected, both boys barely had time to take their ties off before being dragged back to the school by a teacher and being given a hiding of a different kind. Happy days.
Good luck Paula.
Dean Barrett is still wandering down memory lane remembering Paula at a Computer Arena and her offices on Downham Road. Follow him on Twitter @deanbarrett or @BastionPR