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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > Issue Seven – Dec/Jan '17 > The magnificent 7

The magnificent 7

As RPG publisher Cubicle 7 turns a decade old, Matt Jarvis and CEO Dominic McDowall look back on the British company’s work with Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings and Cthulhu, before asking what comes next

"Thinking about the Cubicle 7 of ten years ago is a bit like looking at embarrassing old photographs.”

Dominic McDowall seems hesitant when asked to recall the origins of the RPG publishing label he co-founded.

Angus Abranson had initially decided to form a publisher focused on roleplaying games with the help of his flatmate Dave Allsop in 2003, and brought in his clubmate – McDowall – to help edit the Hunter Sheets supplement for Allsop’s SLA Industries, the first of five planned books for the cyberpunk title. After Allsop pulled out of the still gestating Cubicle 7 one year later in 2004, McDowall joined Abranson to eventually found the company properly in 2006.

“The company was built on a love of gaming – I wouldn’t have it any other way – but my businessrunning skills developed a lot more slowly through a series of painful learning experiences,” McDowall continues. “It’s my first company, and I love it – I don’t really see myself as a serial entrepreneur type. So, the company itself is very different but, at its heart, we’re all still people who love games and can’t stop making them.”

McDowall stepped up to become CEO in 2011, with his former fellow director Abranson leaving the company later that year to found games firm Chronicle City. In the intervening years, Cubicle 7 had attracted investment interest from the Rebellion Group, eventually joining the umbrella of companies in 2009 – a year that would prove to be a major turning point for the publisher, as it launched its first Doctor Who RPG and the Cthulhu Britannica supplement for Lovecraftian tabletop title Call of Cthulhu.

“Rebellion gave us the money and support to turn an evening and weekend hobby business into a real company,” McDowall recalls. “Overnight we were working alongside existing games and genre companies – Rebellion themselves, Mongoose Publishing, 2000AD, Solaris Books, Abaddon Books and more. It was very exciting and inspiring. The investment meant that we could launch multiple games, instead of having to build up at a slower rate as we could afford it; it accelerated the growth of the company enormously.”

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