Terry Cavanagh

Terry Cavanagh

Congratulations to Tydavnet’s Terry Cavanagh whose entrepreneurial skills have been recognised by the prestigious Forbes magazine. The County Monaghan native, now based in London,  is one of five Irishmen (another being the golfer Rory McElroy from Holywood, County Down) who have been included in their annual ’30 under 30′ worldwide list. There is a montage picture of these ‘young men to watch’ in today’s Irish Times and it looks like Rory’s golf club is hitting Terry on his back somewhere around the shoulder! By coincidence Terry’s parents and aunt were with me in Holywood walking along a short section of the North Down coastal path on New Year’s Day. Terry was included because of his expertise as a video games developer (products such as Super Hexagon and VVVVV). The company he founded is Distractionware. He was home in Tydavnet for Christmas and the New Year.

Five Irish in Forbes '30 under 30'   Photo from The Irish Times

Five Irish in Forbes ’30 under 30′ Photomontage from The Irish Times

I started writing about Terry over three years ago when he won a video games ‘Oscar’ for his game VVVVV at the Indiecade festival for independent game develpers in Los Angeles. So here’s a blog I published in October 2010, shortly after my retirement from RTÉ News:

Congratulations to Terry Cavanagh from Tydavnet in County Monaghan on winning an award at the Indiecade showcase for video games in Los Angeles (Culvert City). The game he developed VVVVVV won the most fun and compelling game at the festival. This is how I described his success in the Northern Standard :

“A Monaghan man has achieved international recognition in the computer games world for developing the most fun and compelling video game. Terry Cavanagh from Tullyvogey in Tydavnet picked up the prize at a festival in Los Angeles for independent games creators.

Terry Cavanagh

A former pupil of St Macartan’s College in Monaghan, has been making games since he was at  school. He moved to the university city of Cambridge in England six months ago as he said  he felt isolated in Dublin where there was no “indie scene”.

This award is an important breakthrough for him in a market that is dominated by global companies. Another game developed by him has also proved popular, Don’t Look Back. He has been described by one trade journal as “one of the industry’s brightest up-and-coming independent developers”.

His game VVVVVV was one of 32 games short-listed by 160 international jurors from over 350 submissions in the annual international festival of independent games (IndieCade) held at Culver City outside Los Angeles. It’s the main showcase for independent games developers from around the world, where they can meet collaborators and investors.

While established companies measure their budgets in millions, independents have to raise their own capital, sometimes putting their life savings into projects in the hope of creating a global success.

Terry found it was difficult at first to get financial support for this type of work and was unsuccessful in seeking enterprise funding in Monaghan. But that did not deter him and having arranged a bank loan he was able to embark on his creative projects. He can now boast that his creation is the most fun and compelling computer game on the market this year.

In the game, players imagine themselves as the fearless leader of a team of dimension-exploring scientists, who are separated after inadvertently crashing their ship.

VVVVVV uses smart, interesting puzzles and a strong world and environment, supported by simple visual design combined with awesome music.

The IndieCade festival helps to encourage innovation in interactive media. It includes games producers from Europe, Australia, Asia, Latin America and other countries.

News of Terry’s success in LA delighted his parents in Tydavnet. Peter, a retired Garda, and Patricia, a former psychiatric nurse, were proud he had won his own “Oscar” in what is a very competitive industry.”


BAFTA Game Awards 2013

BAFTA Games Awards

You might think that BAFTAs were just for films. But that’s not the case. The British Academy also has its own “Oscars” for video games. So congratulations go to County Monaghan man Terry Cavanagh on his latest success (with potentially more to come!).

Terry Cavanagh

Terry Cavanagh

His parents from Tydavnet who are over in Cambridge at the moment tell us he is in the running for a BAFTA award for his Super Hexagon game. It’s one of six nominations in the “British game” category, which has been added for the first time this year.

Dara O Briain

Dara O Briain

The host for the gala evening at the London Hilton hotel on Tuesday 5th March is another Irishman, Dara O Briain. It will be shown on the UK’s Challenge television channel (Sky 125, Freeview 46, Virgin 139).  Another of Terry’s game creations, VVVVV, won an award for being the most fun and compelling game at the Indiecade showcase for games developers in Los Angeles in October 2010. So let’s wait and see if he gets another “Oscar” under his belt!   gamegames-awards-logo-2926


1. Dear Esther

Daniel Pinchbeck, Robert Briscoe, Jessica Curry


2. Forza Horizon

Development Team

Playground Games/Turn 10 Studios/Microsoft Studios

3. LEGO: The Lord of the Rings

Development Team

TT Games/Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment

4. Need for Speed Most Wanted

Development Team

Criterion Games/EA

5. The Room

Mark Hamilton, Rob Dodd, Barry Meade

Fireproof Games/Fireproof Games


Terry Cavanagh, Niamh Houston, Jenn Frank

Terry Cavanagh/Terry Cavanagh