Scotland. Just saying her name out loud is a magical moment, carrying with it a variety of connotations; vast rolling highlands, deep blue lochs, Nessie, thistles, bagpipes, kilts, chips and curry sauce in Sauchiehall Street on a Saturday night, the list goes on.

More recently, Scotland has been in the foreground of people's’ thoughts for our unsuccessful referendum. Though while we may have displayed ourselves as a nation not quite ready to take the lunge into independence, we’ve also displayed one of the most successful shows of democracy in Western history. We are, truly, a wonderful nation. But there’s so much more if you dig just a little deeper.

When you think, more specifically, about Scottish industry, you would be forgiven for thinking primarily of whisky, oil, wool and any kind of renewable energy that relies on bad weather. One that is rarely mentioned is our vast and successful video games industry.

One of the most successful video games franchises in history is the often-controversial series ‘Grand Theft Auto’. It has been 17 years since the release of the original game developed for the first PlayStation console (oh the memories) and since then, the franchise has gone on to release a total of 10 titles, plus a multitude of spin-offs and additional packs. It has won a string of awards around the world, sold in the hundreds of millions, received both glowing reviews and damning criticism in equal measure. But what is often forgotten about this hugely-successful name; it was originally written, designed and developed in Dundee, then later Edinburgh by BMI Design (the then small games designers that also brought us the green-haired escape artists ‘Lemmings’ and the terrifying ‘Manhunt’).

Pause for effect.

When I was in school, a friend of mine always said he wanted to become a video-game designer. Back then I remember thinking ‘Getting paid to design and play games? Sure, doesn’t everyone. That’ll never happen’. He then went on to university to study his dream and then low and behold, became a video-game designer working on major titles we’ll all have heard of. Granted he spent some time working in Japan, but he now lives and works back in Scotland, continuing the dream here.

Now I’ve only mentioned one of a vast array of companies based in Scotland. And it’s not just about console games these days; online gaming through the likes of Facebook and other social networks are a huge industry today, as is mobile gaming and Scotland isn’t sitting this one out either. Companies like Outplay Entertainment (based in Edinburgh) and ‘4J Studios’ (Dundee, in case you were wondering) are at the forefront of games development in these areas. Developing for online avenues as well as mobile gaming. Often when one thinks of video game design (granted, not really that often), one usually thinks of LA, Vancouver or London. And yes, these are often the biggest places to find big-time developers, but Scotland rivals them with ease.

As in most areas of technology, video gaming is a fast-paced and ever-changing industry. What is cutting edge today can very easily be bargain bucket material tomorrow, yet no matter how fast it changes, Scotland and Scottish games-designers are always a step ahead of the proverbial game, churning out massive titles as quickly as anyone else.

Scottish history isn’t all William Wallace, Robert the Bruce and Rabbie Burns. It’s the birthplace not just of golf, whisky, the telephone, television, the steam engine, battered Mars bars and Peter Pan. It’s the birthplace of some of the biggest names in video game history. I’d like to say these titles changed me as a person, growing up with them, but given the biggest of them all is about stealing cars, selling drugs and having frequent run-ins with the police, it’s possibly not quite accurate. But hearing people these days discussing the latest ‘GTA’ the way they did back in the 90’s is a testament to the success of Scottish-based video game design and yet another industry Scotland excels in and will hopefully continue to for a long time to come.