London, 21 October: A group of influential senior figures from the British games, investment, arts and educational sectors is calling on the government to increase support for the UK games sector by funding a new national agency, the British Games Institute (BGI), to champion the often overlooked sector.
The BGI would act on behalf of government to ensure the continued growth and contribution of the UK games sector to Britain’s economic and cultural landscape.
British-originated games such as the Grand Theft Auto and Tomb Raider series, LittleBigPlanet, Runescape, Total War, Football Manager, Lego, Forza, Worms, Batman and Golf Clash have made the UK Europe’s second largest video game market after Germany, and usually in the top 5 largest producers of video games after the US, Japan, China and Canada.
Yet despite growing faster than any other creative sector and adding over £1.2 billion to the UK economy each year, the UK games industry faces some significant challenges: access to finance, cultural recognition, access to skills and diversity in its workforce. Until now there has been no single national public organisation to support and amplify the huge impact the games industry has on the British economy and its culture.
Modelled on the British Film Institute, the British Games Institute (BGI) will be a new national games agency supported by games trade bodies TIGA and Ukie, and over 500 senior games, investment, arts and education figures. The BGI has four key objectives:
- To encourage the development of the art, science and technology of games throughout the UK;
- To research and promote games’ impact on and reflection of British culture;
- To gather and share the artistic, technical and commercial expertise in games production;
- To promote and increase diversity and inclusion in the UK games sector.
The BGI would work in collaboration with existing and new initiatives to put the UK games industry front and centre of Britain’s cultural and digital agenda – supporting future growth by driving innovation and opportunities in the sector.
The campaign is being led by games veterans Ian Livingstone CBE and Rick Gibson.
Ian Livingstone CBE said: “Some of the most creative and competitive games studios in the world are based in the UK, yet almost all UK games companies struggle to raise finance and access skills, and have to fight against low public recognition of our amazing art form. The BGI’s programmes will help address these challenges. I’m convinced that the BGI can increase the level of investment, widen games’ cultural impact and source the skills our studios need to stay world-class..”
Rick Gibson said: “We’ve been making games for nearly 40 years in the UK. The first ever computer game wasn’t made in California, it was made in Cambridge in 1952. The best-selling entertainment product of all time, Grand Theft Auto, is British. However, policymakers, large public funding sources and the media are only just waking up to games’ beneficial impact both economically and culturally. A new national games agency can place games at the heart of the UK’s cultural pantheon by funding games production, festivals and heritage, and cutting-edge skills.”
Nicola Mendelsohn CBE, VP Facebook EMEA and Co-chair of Creative Industries Council, said: “Games are one of the most important bridges between technology and the arts. Although the UK games sector is at the cutting edge of a rapidly growing global industry, it faces significant challenges in access to finance and skills, and low awareness of just how deeply games are embedded in our culture. The British Games Institute represents a unique opportunity for government to address these challenges with support from a very wide range of arts, education, finance and games organisations. I’m proud to lend my support.”
Dr Richard Wilson, CEO, TIGA said: “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 new games festivals around the UK.”
Hasan Bakhshi, Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics, Nesta said: “The UK’s sustained global presence in cultural forms as wide as film, TV, theatre and art reflects in no small part the support of publicly-backed industry institutions. The evidence shows that video games now play an essential role in the UK’s cultural as well as economic wellbeing. It’s high time we matched this reality with a lottery-backed British Games Institute.”
Ed Vaizey MP, former Minister of State, Digital and Culture, DCMS said: “The UK games industry ticks all the Industrial Strategy’s boxes: it’s high growth, high tech, truly nationwide and is already world-class with highly transferable skills. Yet the games industry faces significant challenges in access to finance, cultural recognition and skills shortages. After reviewing the BGI proposals, I believe the best way to address these challenges is a new national agency. Funding the BGI would be a statement of strategic intent by the government to back this key creative sector and I’m delighted to support it.”
Lord David Puttnam CBE said: “The UK has a formidable reputation for delivering original, outstanding and unique games titles. In 2009 I suggested to the government that they recognise the tremendous potential harnessed within the games industry to contribute socially, educationally and economically to contemporary culture. Just as the BFI has for long championed film culture, it’s time for games to have a national agency to promote its own specific cultural contribution. That’s why I’m joining the call to government to help underwrite a British Games Institute.”
Jason Kingsley OBE, CEO, Rebellion, and Chairman, TIGA said: “I’m very excited about the idea of the BGI. An august, sophisticated and grand institution, that does practical things, is long overdue for the rapidly growing and highly successful computer games industry. Other areas of the creative industries have this kind of valued structure. I am looking forward to working closely with the BGI, both as chair of TIGA, and as CEO of Rebellion, and helping to build on the success story that is the British Games Industry.”
Other key supporters include:
Caroline Norbury MBE, CEO Creative England
Carl Cavers, CEO, Sumo-Digital
Andy Payne, CEO AppyNation and Chairman of British Esports Association
Marie-Claire Isaaman, CEO, Women in Games
Simon Nelson, CEO, FutureLearn
Iain Simons, CEO, The National Videogame Foundation
Notes to Editors
Ian Livingstone is one of the founding fathers of the UK games industry. He co-founded iconic games company Games Workshop, and co-created the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks which have sold 20 million copies worldwide. Whilst serving as Executive Chairman of Eidos, he launched global video games blockbusters including Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. He is the former Chairman of Playdemic, publishers of hit mobile game, Golf Clash, and is Chairman of Sumo Digital.
Rick Gibson is a consultant who founded and led the Games Up? Campaign in 2008, in which both trade bodies and leading British studios promoted the UK games sector and its need for Video Games Tax Relief.
About the British Games Institute
The BGI is a proposed new national games agency. It is an industry-led initiative that was announced in January 2016 to win new funding for cultural games production, games as culture projects and games production and commercialisation skills. Following lengthy consultation with over 100 games, arts, investment and educational stakeholders, it is now announcing its programme.
The BGI campaign is led by Rick Gibson and Ian Livingstone, is supported by Ukie and TIGA, and has won the support from over 450 games companies, 20 universities and over 30 arts, investment and educational organisations such as Arts Council, Creative England and Nesta. Many more quotes from supportive organisations are available on request.
The BGI was formally proposed to the Treasury in September 2017. The Bazalgette review into the Creative Sectors referenced the ongoing discussion in the industry about recognising “games as a cultural and artistic force in society”. It noted this proposal for “an equivalent of the BFI for video games, to promote British games and deliver targeted support” and recommended that Government should “should take a more strategic approach to fostering growth in the video games industry and highlighting its cultural impacts.” The BGI team are actively in discussions with Government on winning new funding for its programmes.