Stuart Muckley


Founder and Managing Director of Code Wizards.

We specialise in bringing friction-free to every project.

Working across sports, games, esports, ecommerce and membership we bring the best of all of our experiences & knowledge into each project.

Whether you need a gamified learning portal, a new angle on ecommerce, a technical reboot, esports or game tech; we create human-centric solutions coupled with world-class engineering.

We think different; we are Code Wizards.

Stuart Muckley

 
Can you tell us about your career background and how you got to the position you are in today?
 
Aged 12 I was lucky enough to borrow a friend’s ZX Spectrum and it was love at first sight.  That single serendipitous event created the path for my life. 
 
Post-University I ditched the idea of doing a PhD to go and get a paid job doing research.  That led to running engineering teams of various sizes and eventually to strike out on my own.
 
My love of music, games, books and engineering led me into what I do now and gives us the opportunity to work with amazing clients and partners.

What or who inspired you to achieve the success you have had?
 
As a youngster Matthew Smith was my hero – he showed what you could do with a computer game and how you could bring something quirky to it regardless of the constraints (for those of you old enough he created Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy).
 
In my twenties I read the autobiography of “Monty” and how his approach was to lead from the front and be visible.  There’s an amazing story of him being at the front line with snipers all around and insisting he wore his General’s uniform to show his fellow soldiers he wasn’t afraid.  Understanding that personality and visibility are important but don’t have to be grandstanding or showing off was a great life lesson to me.
 
From there the pattern has really been around seeing new tech and it inspiring new ideas on how to do things.  For the moment Web XR is my current passion as I believe it’ll be the dominant “platform” for XR experiences in future.

What’s the best part of your job?
 
Meeting people.  I firmly believe that you learn something new from everybody you meet so I love those chance meetings where you have time to explore things.  As we cross sports, esports, games, retail, experience and music.
 
And of course I’m still an engineer at heart: I love it when we take something from ideation to delivering it.  It’s still a buzz.

What types of projects are you working on right now?
 
We’ve got a real mix.  We’re doing a fascinating R&D project around Web XR which I can’t talk about too much sadly.  A really interesting gamified offering for the staff of a large UK bank.  We’re building a 1+ million player esport platform and designing user experiences for a drone startup.  Plus a lot more too.
 
Last week we also delivered The Future is Now for our charity partner for Music for Youth and we’re going to be doing future iterations of that to help young people love music (and hopefully for some to join the industry too).

Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?
 
Collaboration and we make sure that nobody is scared to give an opinion – there are no bad ideas.
 
I think our experience of working with businesses and games companies gives us a unique eye on how to approach things.  We love to take a problem and turn the solution upside down.  I hate the word “gamification” but it’s a technique we find is massively useful in a lot of areas as it forces you to discover the win-win for users and operators.
 
A good example is a recent project to teach children about password security – this should be pretty boring and the initial brief was to create a quiz.  We switched this around completely and made a game where you have to crack codes.  By playing we’re implicitly teaching them about password length having exponential complexity; which is completely counterintuitive. 

What are your interests outside of work?
 
Online I love videogames and music.  Videogames you can find me mostly playing shooters and driving games with a dash of other games thrown in.  Music is really diverse and I like just about everything and anything.
 
Offline is canoeing, books and board games. 

How do you celebrate success?       
 
I think we celebrate in an awfully British way: with a smile and a congratulations.  Certainly no high-fives, clapping or whooping.
 
But internally we’re all focussed on success so people are vocal with their “well done” and “I like what you did there” comments. 
 
As Brits we often tell people what we don’t like and not what we do, but it’s the little comments and feedback that makes all the difference to us as people. 
 
Nobody on their death bed thinks about the salary they accrued across their life as their achievement.  So, as a company, we never talk about “we made £XXX on that deal” but we talk about what we did and why it was good.  I think that “human-centric” success criteria is why we work together so well.

How do you celebrate success?       
 
I think we celebrate in an awfully British way: with a smile and a congratulations.  Certainly no high-fives, clapping or whooping.
 
But internally we’re all focussed on success so people are vocal with their “well done” and “I like what you did there” comments. 
 
As Brits we often tell people what we don’t like and not what we do, but it’s the little comments and feedback that makes all the difference to us as people. 
 
Nobody on their death bed thinks about the salary they accrued across their life as their achievement.  So, as a company, we never talk about “we made £XXX on that deal” but we talk about what we did and why it was good.  I think that “human-centric” success criteria is why we work together so well.

What career advice would you give your younger self?
 
I know when I started out I always felt out of place: I was often the strongest accent in the room and I’d been brought up to a very traditional hierarchical view of industry where the workers on the shop floor don’t talk to management.
 
So if I could re-play those elements I’d tell myself to speak to more people at senior levels: they’re just people too. 
 
I’d also tell myself to not worry about making mistakes as they’re part of learning and experience.

What are little things that annoy you in the workplace?
 
I *hate* moaning and whining; I absolutely abhor it.
 
Negativity sucks the fun and energy out of teams and it’s infectious.  Over the years we’ve worked alongside teams that are fundamentally broken because “everything is awful” so we steer away from those engagements wherever possible.
 
A smile costs nothing and laughter is infectious too.  God I hope I don’t sound like David Brent.. 

What book are you reading right now?
 
“The Silk Roads: A new History of the World” by Peter Frankopan.
 
Absolutely amazing journey through history looking at trade between East and West.  How that interaction influenced cultures, started and ended wars and changed the way we all live today.
 
If you’re going to read a non-fiction book this year then Silk Roads is great.

What three people, living or dead, would you invite to dinner?     
 
Easy!
 
Samuel Pepys (prolific diary keeper around the reformation) – they were turbulent times and the world was changing rapidly. 
 
Bernard Montgomery (Viscount of Alamein) – a man with no fear and an absolute self-belief (probably along with some ideas and beliefs I wouldn’t enjoy too much I’m sure).
 
Matthew Smith (creator of Jet Set Willy) – to find out where the ideas came from and how he saw such a basic machine and had saw such potential in it.

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