NESTA backs call for Government investment in games

Read Hasan Bakhshi’s excellent blog post on strong cultural reasons for governments to invest in games.

Hasan analyses the DCMS’s Taking Part survey and finds that UK gamers are more likely to engage in cultural activity than UK non-gamers, in particular “more likely to read, paint, attend performing arts and visit heritage sites and libraries”.

Hasan agrees that policymakers “have been slow to wake up to the significance of video games” as a cultural products.

No surprise then that the DCMS dropped video games from the Taking Part survey, which is an annual survey of the cultural activities undertaken by British people.

Why do we still have to argue that games are cultural products?

Time for a change. Time for the BGI.

 

 

 

 

Give us your opinion about the British Games Institute

The BGI team is running a consultation about the BGI and asking for the games sector’s input to the proposal.

Let us know what you think about our proposal for this landmark new organisation supported by over 500 industry leaders by adding your comments to this page.

We are really interested in finding out:

  • What do you think about the proposal for a new national games agency as a whole?
  • Do you think that the proposed structure of the finance programme will assist games companies?
  • If not, what alternatives would you recommend?
  • How do you think we could best promote the genius of British-made games to the public?
  • What do you think about a national games festival that travels like a City of Culture through the different games clusters each year and promotes local talent?
  • What skills gaps or requirements do you have in your organisation or as an individual?
  • Would you be interested in online training in 10 different production and commercial disciplines each year?
  • How should we account for the BGI’s programmes to the games sector once they are up and running?
  • How can we persuade the government to fund this proposal?

Consultation guidelines:

Please add your name and organisation to your post

Please be constructive in your feedback

Please respect the opinions of others but we encourage a lively debate

Any inappropriate material will be removed by the moderators

Proposal for the British Games Institute

The following high level proposal for this landmark new organisation has been developed by the BGI team with the help of a range of organisations. Please note that this proposal will probably change further following the consultation phase starting 13/07/17.

Draft mission and values

The BGI will be a new organisation that promotes the cultural, creative and economic impact of video games in the UK. To be founded as a registered charity in 2017, the BGI will have 3 objectives:

  • To encourage the development of the art, science and technology of video games across the UK
  • To research and promote video games’ impact on and reflection of British culture, and protect national video game collections that represent the 40-year heritage of British-made games
  • To gather and disseminate the UK’s artistic and technical expertise in games production and distribution, to increase the productivity of British games studios and up-skill its workforce

The BGI will partner with the DCMS, UKIE, TIGA and the National Videogame Foundation (amongst others) and collaborate with many other Arts and Science bodies.

Solutions to strategic challenges

The BGI will provide long term solutions to 3 intractable problems:

  • Finance: Tackle the finance gap which makes go-to-market and growth funding inaccessible to most games companies by investing in cultural games production, encouraging games studios to create new IP, attracting new investors into games and triggering an economic multiplier effect.
  • Culture: Bridge the culture gap in which games are under-recognised as a cultural force by researching and promoting British games culture via a national games festival comprising events, competitions and a high tech red carpet show, as well as funding non-digital cultural projects.
  • Skills: Counter the skills gap in which games companies struggle to maintain productivity and keep pace with the latest production and distribution techniques by funding leading universities to catalogue best practice from studios, and use online training to upskill studios nationwide.

To address these challenges, the following programmes are proposed:

The Finance Programme

A £5m annual programme of financial support for games production.

  • Games funding: Finance £5m in games development using grants and soft loans to between 35-40 projects each year, disbursed across three rounds each year. Projects will be assessed by experienced games staff and scored for their innovation, bringing new talent into the sector, their promotion of diversity and their commercial potential. Funding of £100,000 and above will require matched funding by other finance sources, with certificates provided for successful award recipients. All games will be reviewed against the same cultural test used for Video Games Tax Relief. Awards will be recouped where possible at industry standard rates.
  • Increase games investment: The BGI will promote recipients of awards of £100,000 and above to institutions, angels and other funding bodies to assist companies match the BGI’s financing and widen the investment circle for games.
  • Mentoring programme: Experienced games executives will be paid to mentor recipients of larger awards and utilise their expertise in helping to make recipient games successful.

The Culture Programme

A £1.5m annual programme that celebrates the creativity and diversity of British games culture to the public.

  • Research: A programme of new research into the cultural and economic impact of games.
  • British Games Festival: Fund a nationwide programme of games events, hackathons and competitions focusing on a different regional games cluster each year.
  • Prize competitions: Games innovation contests with grant prizes, judged by experts.
  • Red carpet event: A high tech red carpet event to promote UK games creators to the public.
  • Diversity: Promote the role of women and BAME talent in the sector via PR.
  • National Videogame Foundation: Support the Foundation’s promotion of video games’ contribution to culture, society and education.
  • Culture Fund: 3 rounds of funding will be disbursed annually to a wide range of projects promoting games culture, which could include non-digital games, installations, festivals, research, networking and workshops. The Culture Fund will be overseen by the BGI in collaboration with a range of other arts organisations.


The Skills Programme

A £300,000 programme to acquire and share skills between studios using the latest online training techniques.

  • Skills: Acquire and catalogue the latest best practice games production and commercialisation techniques in 10 new disciplines each year from leading practitioners with the help of top UK games universities.
  • Training: Partner with the Open University’s FutureLearn social learning platform to train British studios and students online in the latest skills to increase their productivity and self-sufficiency.

Working with Government, trade bodies and existing programmes

The BGI will act as the government’s lead agency on video games, providing a long-term strategic vision for the sector and a centre of gravity for other games programmes, in close collaboration with the sector.

It will work closely with the government on a range of public policy areas relating to games, but not act as a lobbyist.

The BGI will work in close partnership with UKIE and TIGA and ensure its programmes do not conflict with theirs.

The BGI’s programmes have been designed to fill strategic gaps in existing programmes, and may indeed fund existing programmes where they represent best practice and the BGI’s funding can take these programmes significantly further forward. It is critical that the BGI proposal and programmes do not damage existing programmes, which are critical to the sustainability and success of the games sector. The BGI team is in detailed discussions with a range of existing programmes and organisations to define if and how such partnerships might work in practice.

The organisation

  • Charitable Status: The BGI will be a charitable company without a fee-paying membership.
  • Budget and staffing: The BGI’s programmes will require £8m per annum for the first 3 years, before expanding to £10-12m. A team of 14 will comprise the CEO and Chairman, a management team of four, with 8 other staff to administer programmes. The total cost of salaries and overheads is just under £800,000 per annum. The BGI will have a modest marketing and PR budget, as well as an allocation for ongoing external auditing and liaison with the Charity Commission. Total administration costs will be around 20% of annual costs.
  • Funding sources: The BGI is bidding for £8m Grant in Aid funding from DCMS, committed 3-5 years in advance. The BGI’s medium term ambition is to win National Lottery funding of £2-4m pa within 3 years. The BGI will also establish a fundraising operation with the aim of raising additional funds for its programmes from industry, corporates and individuals. The BGI will also fund new programmes from recoupment and reasonable overages from funded games projects that succeed commercially.
  • Board: The BGI will be governed by a Board of 12 trustees and 2 permanent Observers (CEOs of TIGA and UKIE) to meet 4 times annually. Trustees will be chosen from stakeholder groups across the sector and will be renewed every 3 years.
  • Location: The BGI will operate a regionally distributed model with the culture team in Nottingham and other team locations TBD.
  • Starting up: The BGI will take six months to start up. The organisation will be founded, premises secured, team hired, Board recruited and appointed, policies agreed with DCMS, programme goals and critical success factors defined in close consultation with industry, trade bodies, partners and other stakeholders and processes and legal frameworks laid down. This will require seed funding from DCMS, before its first programme year begins.

Discover the British Games Institute at Develop 2017

Find out more about the BGI: Develop, Brighton, 1215, Thurs 13th

Develop

The BGI team will be in Brighton to talk about the plans for the BGI on Thursday 13th.

Rick Gibson, Ian Livingstone, Jo Twist (UKIE) and Richard Wilson (TIGA) will present and discuss the proposal for the British Games Institute, a landmark new agency that, if successful, will nearly triple the amount of funding government provides to the games industry and fund games production, cultural events and education for British games companies. This talk will include a question and answer session with the audience.

Details of the Free session here.

Key takeaways:
* Discover what games, cultural events and educational initiatives the BGI might fund if it succeeds in winning government funding
* Find out why UKIE and TIGA have joined together with over 500 industry leaders from over 450 UK games companies, universities, arts and science organisations to call for new government investment in games
* Bring your own questions about the BGI for the panel to answer and find out how you can help lobby the government to fund this

The Develop conference session is part of a wider consultation with the games sector being run by the BGI team and the trade bodies. Details of the online consultation will be announced shortly.

Over 350 Games leaders call for the British Games Institute

The campaign calling for the founding of the British Games Institute now has over 350 British games leaders from every kind of games company, including most of the largest British games companies.

Rick Gibson and Ian Livingstone announced their plan for a brand new agency to champion British games on Monday 23rd January 2017. The proposed new agency needs new Government funding to run programmes that encourage games production, champion British games culture and invest in educational games.

Since the campaign went public, some of the largest games companies in the UK have backed the call for this new organisation. A long list of over 300 CEOs, Directors and influential industry figures from some of the UK’s best known games companies, investors and educational establishments has been growing at remarkable speed.

Sony, Rebellion, Jagex, Team 17, Supermassive Games, Rare, EA Chillingo, Playground Games, Radiant Worlds, Eidos, Future Games of London, 4J Studios, Slightly Mad Studios, Edge Case Games, Outplay, nDreams, SEGA Hardlight and hundreds more have added their weight to Frontier, Sumo Digital, Creative Assembly, TT Games, London Venture Partners, Catalis, Mind Candy, Sports Interactive, Climax, 505 Games, Take Two, Midoki, Warner Brothers, Space Ape Games and Codemasters.

We’re very grateful for the rush of support for our proposal from right across the games industry, in particular to Philip and Andrew Oliver for getting the message out to the Made in Creative UK group.

The timing is perfect for the industry to use a single voice to propose a simple, focused and powerful plan to Government for a new agency that will have deep and long term impact.

If you haven’t joined the call, now’s the time! SIGN UP HERE

Over 170 Games industry leaders support the British Games Institute

Over 170 British games industry leaders have signed up to support Ian Livingstone and Rick Gibson’s call for the founding of the British Games Institute, just 2 days since the initiative was announced.

Some of the UK’s biggest games companies – Frontier, Sumo Digital, Creative Assembly, TT Games, Team 17, Codemasters, Playground Games – and most influential figures have so far backed the proposal.

As well as UKIE and TIGA, senior figures from many of the UK’s leading games and investment companies, charities and educational establishments have added their support. Senior figures now backing the BGI include Peter Molyneux, David Braben (Frontier), Debbie Bestwick (Team 17), Carl Cavers (Sumo), Tim Heaton (Creative Assembly), Ian Hetherington, Frank Sagnier (Codemasters), Jon Burton (TT Games), Miles Jacobson (Sports Interactive), David Lau-Kee and David Gardner (London Venture Partners), Michael Acton Smith and Ian Chambers (Mind Candy), Trev Williams (Playground Games), Tim Woodley (505 Games), John Earner (Space Ape Games), Hugh Binns (EightPixelsSquare) and many more from the sector.

Rick and Ian are particularly grateful to Philip and Andrew Oliver from Radiant Worlds for getting the message out to the Made in Creative UK group.

If you haven’t signed up yet, now’s the time! SIGN UP HERE

Why we need the British Games Institute

by Ian Livingstone and Rick Gibson.

The government has announced its new Industrial Strategy, indicating it will increase support for key UK industries. We as an industry have been working hard to be counted amongst world-leading British industries vital for our country’s future economic success. Today, we, together with UKIE’s Jo Twist and TIGA’s Richard Wilson, are calling for the British Games Institute to be founded with new government money to fund UK games production, culture and education.

There’s never been a better time for us all to shout out about our sector. Games are played across British society, from children to Prime Ministers to OAPs, even astronauts on the International Space Station. Over half of British adults and almost all children play games regularly. Games have wide impact, helping patients recover from surgery, teaching valuable skills to children, employing 12,000 creative technologists and delivering billions in economic impact, as part of a global market that’s growing to over $100bn.

We’re already a world-class digital industry growing at speed in every corner of the country but we face intractable problems. A BGI could help plug the finance gap that can hinder or damage our fledgling studios and put significant new money into funding the production of nearly 40 cultural games every year, some of them up to £500,000. Games play to the core strengths of the UK, creativity and technology, and now we need more funding to trigger more jobs, growth and more global blockbusters. We must encourage more games investment by structuring the funding so it widens the investment circle and helps safeguard success by providing mentoring.

A BGI should champion games’ cultural impact on British life, and negate the continual scapegoating of our industry. Let’s launch a national British Games Week to celebrate games culture around the country. Let’s fund games competitions with grant prizes, hackathons, cultural projects and a high tech red carpet event. Let’s promote the important curation and cultural contribution of the National Videogame Arcade.

We want games to be at the heart of educational policy and would fund games that teach British children STEM subjects. In time, our vision for the BGI is to help tackle the industry’s skills problems, and work with universities and studios to capture best practice and train staff online in the latest techniques.

Both games industry trade bodies have fought hard on initiatives that have benefitted the sector as a whole. We’ve seen long term wins from PEGI, NextGen Skills, Video Game Tax Relief, Games London, university accreditation, migration policy, improved R&D tax credits, Digital Schoolhouse, the Prototype and Skills Investment Fund. The BGI is an opportunity for our sector to take a big step forward. We want to build upon the trade bodies’ initiatives and we’re delighted that both are backing our call for a new British Games Institute:

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO UkieWe know games are an economic success story, but games are also a key part of culture and an important form of expression, not just entertainment. We have long supported the call for a dedicated and coordinated approach to supporting and funding content, talent and new ideas, to give our sector and businesses the cultural capital to innovate. In my own commissioning experience at the BBC and Channel 4, as well as the success Ukie has seen through our initiatives such as Games London and Digital Schoolhouse, the need to fund and celebrate the diversity of games as a key part of culture brings enormous longer term economic benefits.”

Dr Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA “TIGA stands for games developers and digital publishers and our objective is to strengthen the games industry. We should introduce a British Games Institute to drive the sector forward. We would welcome the BGI implementing TIGA’s long standing proposal for a Games Investment Fund, increasing productivity in the industry by working with leading universities – particularly TIGA Accredited universities – to promote best practice, and promoting British games culture with a new national games week filled with events, hackathons and competitions around the UK.”

Theresa May has identified the Creative Industries as one of 5 sectors to assist. Games are one of the least well-funded. Games’ economic impact was worth 23% of the UK’s combined screen sector, compared to 60% for film and the remainder for TV and animation. But film compares favourably to games, getting £170m per annum compared to just £5m for games. That’s 30 times more public funding.

The BFI is a remarkable organisation doing valuable work funding commercial film production, research and educational projects as well as heritage and training projects. We want to use the BFI as a template for a new agency funded by new government money to deliver long term impact for the video games industry.

We believe that games should receive the same recognition and status as other British Creative Content sectors. It should win funding in proportion with its achievements and its massive potential for growth.

Now is the time to get behind this call for significant new public funding and place games at the heart of the UK’s economic and cultural future, where we belong.