David Darling was something of a child prodigy. By 12 he was programming professionally for computer game companies. By 19 he was ready to set up his own business and, together with his brother Richard, founded Codemasters as a video games developer in 1986. The brothers had five ‘O’ levels each, none of them in computer science. This was not to stand in the way of an obsession. Based in Warwickshire, Codemasters began programming games for the then-popular Sinclair Spectrum computer. It now specialises in designing games for the Sony PlayStation and PCs. It has launched a series of high-profile hits, including Colin McRae Rally, LMA Manager and Music 2000. The company maintains its success rate in this fashion-led industry by employing a high ratio of young creative staff, who make up three-quarters of the workforce. “We probably throw more resources into fewer games than our competitors”, says David. “It enables us to maintain our track record of hits”. Profits have grown by 119% pa, from £2.2m in 1996 to £22.7m in 1999. Sales have increased by 92% pa in the same period to reach £59.8m. With the bulk of sales derived from the UK and Europe, Codemasters is now going aggressively after the US and Japanese markets.
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