Magazine Articles

UK Games Industry: Beyond Software

An edited version of this article was published in Retro Gamer, Issue 64 (2009).

Terry Pratt was working for EMAP on an innovative and very popular UK computer magazine when the idea of setting up a video games publisher was first suggested.

“I was the Editor for Computer & Video Games magazine since its launch back in late 1981, and a few years later I had the idea that we might be able to create a software company”, remembers Terry. “I then sold that idea to a number of Boards at EMAP and set it up with Bill Delaney, who was working as Advertising Manager for one of EMAP’s other computer magazines at the time.”

With Bill Delaney concentrating on the sales side, Terry was tasked with looking after content, which included coming up with a name for the publishing label. “I agonised for weeks over choosing a name before choosing Beyond, but I can’t remember any of those that were rejected. It was all such a long time ago now!”

Terry initially met with a number of developers in an effort to get titles on the books, including a meeting with English teacher Mike Singleton which eventually resulted in the game that really made Beyond famous, the epic fantasy strategy game ‘The Lords of Midnight’.

“Mike and I had been putting together completely stupid and weird game ideas for Computer and Video Games magazine for a couple of years so we got to know each other quite well. In fact, knowing that Mike was going in that direction (programming games professionally) was the encouragement I needed to start up Beyond.”

With Terry running the business as Managing Director and Bill Delaney looking after sales, the management team needed to recruit a few additional faces, as Terry recalls.

“There was only ever six people employed by Beyond whilst I was working there, and Simon Goodwin was one of the first. Technically he was our resident programmer, although we actually sourced our games from outside.”

Simon remembers with great affection how he became involved back in 1983.

“I had several years of professional programming experience and I used to write or convert games for publishing in Computer & Video Games magazine”, he explains. “Terry approached me to join the new company as Software Manager, primarily to assess new games and liaise with programmers for conversions and so on, but I also looked after physical cassette production and I managed and sometimes assisted program development as well.”

Other staff quickly followed at Beyond, including the hiring of Francis Lee as Sales Manager, poached from another part of EMAP.

“I had been working in advertising sales at EMAP for their electronic online division called Micronet 800, and then for a magazine called Computing and Electronics Monthly”, remembers Francis. Six very successful months later, Francis was approached by Bill Delaney to discuss the possibility of joining Beyond.

“At this time it was a relatively new company with a small team jointly run by Bill and Terry Pratt. I liked what I saw in the people involved and really felt that this would be a challenging opportunity working with a group of fun people.”

Mary Linehan became part of the small but perfectly formed Beyond team after a stint of working at a local Probation Office. A number of her friends were already at EMAP working in Marketing, and she managed to get an interview.

“I joined Beyond more or less at the beginning, starting off as P.A. to Terry Pratt and Bill Delaney. Soon afterwards, Clive Bailey was recruited as Marketing Manager. We were originally all crammed into one small EMAP office with a wedding magazine for neighbours”.

Mary eventually became Marketing Assistant to Clive Bailey, and so Jane Shillington was brought in to be Bill Delaney’s new PA.

“I learnt a little about writing, and a little about magic”, explains Mary of her time at Beyond. “Bill Delaney was also a magician, so most weeks we’d get everything done by Friday morning, then pick up a couple of bottles of wine and watch him perform magic tricks – usually to cries of “saw Francis in half!”.

By Richard Hewison

I'm a creative writer at heart, trying to break free from the shackles of others and express myself via my writing.

3 replies on “UK Games Industry: Beyond Software”

Fond memories. I was so young and it was really exciting to be a part of that fledgling industry. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
Jane Mitchell (Shillington)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.