Why the BGI exists
The BGI campaign was founded in late 2016 to address falling government support for the games sector through the creation of a new national agency for games.
After the BGI campaign founders proposed the idea of the BGI, they consulted with over 110 different organisations in detail through the summer of 2017, substantially changing some of the proposed plans as a result. The BGI campaign founders concluded from these consultations that the sector wanted a new agency for games to deliver a long term vision for the UK games sector, trigger change via an independent organisation instead of a trade body, create a centre of gravity for games culture that worked across the UK to empower the regions, collaborate and complement existing organisations including trade bodies, provide a richer eco-system for games via an ambitious organisation that was bigger than the sum of its parts and could trigger new Lottery funding for games. You can read the results of the consultation in full below.
Becoming a charity
We are in the process of registering a new Charitable Independent Organisation (CIO) with the Charity Commission. On completion of this process, the BGI will acquire the National Videogame Foundation (NVF). This acquisition has been formally approved by the Directors of the NVF, the Advisory Board and the proposed Trustees of the BGI.
The process of application has focused the BGI campaign and the National Videogame Foundation on the proposed charitable goals of the new charity which are educational in nature and on its proposed governance. This has resulted in the Trustees of the BGI to request some changes to the BGI campaign’s public profile in advance of the registration of the charity to reflect the charitable objects.
The Trustees of the BGI CIO have agreed that the charity’s objects rule out a few of the initial ambitions of the BGI campaign which have necessitated changes to some of the proposed programmes. However, after a review of the NVF’s programmes including the National Videogame Museum, the Trustees note that existing programmes, such as the Museum, Pixelheads, Continue, training and other live programmes are educational in nature and do not need modification.
Consultation in full
The BGI campaign’s founders made the following conclusions after meeting with over 110 different organisations.
Long term vision: The BGI should develop a strategic vision for the UK games sector in close collaboration with the sector:
- An eco-system for games in which access to finance is not constrained by market failure and games companies have the chance to grow sustainably;
- The value, cultural impact and heritage of games is understood and supported by the public, the media and policymakers;
- Games, HE and FE organisations have continuous access to the latest skills required to produce and commercialise games;
- Diversity and inclusion in the games sector’s workforce has significantly increased.
Centre of gravity for games: The BGI’s programmes should provide a new and much needed centre of gravity for games as culture, in coordination with arts organisations. By providing the kind of hard independent data that is available to other sectors with national agencies, the BGI should educate the public about the cultural and educational value of games, as well as championing their cultural and educational contribution to other funding bodies, including to government.
Empower the regions: The BGI should not be another London-based organisation and it should help make new regional funding more efficient by freeing clusters up to concentrate on local issues that really help local organisations.
Collaboration: Collaboration should be at the heart of how the BGI operates. Every BGI programme should be collaborative and complementary with existing organisations, whether working with investors, schools, arts organisations, local bodies, third sector organisations, universities, games studios and independent developers themselves.
Play a unique and complementary role in the games sector: The BGI should perform a different but complementary role to existing organisations, including games industry trade bodies but also other third sector organisations and schemes, whose vital work must continue. The BGI should not be a membership organisation, should not lobby government for legislative change (although it was understood that BGI would need to request funding for its programmes) and should work alongside and at times with trade bodies.
A richer games eco-system: Games has two national and some regional trade bodies, a few publicly-funded schemes, even fewer industry-funded schemes, a small number of festivals and no national agency. Film has six trade bodies, a national agency, multiple regional bodies including several industry or European-funded regional screen agencies and multiple national arts bodies funding hundreds of film schemes including over 40 film festivals and initiatives from national to grassroots levels. Games deserve a richer, better coordinated and more generously funded eco-system.
Bigger than the sum of its parts: The BGI should encourage cross-fertilisation between programmes. Examples include baking diversity and inclusion into all proposed programmes, training companies to be investment-ready, cross-promoting BGI programmes at festivals it might fund and advocating diversity and apprenticeships to the industry from multiple platforms at once.
Enable new Lottery funding: The BGI should be uniquely positioned to make the case for new Lottery funding for games. The BGI campaign team and its supporters, including many arts institutions, believe that games are a worthy recipient of Lottery funding, not least because of games’ deep-seated role in British culture, their engagement of the British public, their educational potential and their ability to enhance diversity and inclusivity.
Support for the BGI’s programmes
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. Ed Vaizey MP, former Minister of State, Digital and Culture, DCMS
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 new games festivals around the UK. Dr Richard Wilson, CEO, TIGA
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. Jason Kingsley OBE, CEO, Rebellion, and Chairman, TIGA
The UK has a rich, 40 year history in games but, unlike other creative industries, we have had little public funding to support our games culture. A specialist national games agency would bring focus and turbo charge the UK’s vibrant video games sector both commercially and culturally to reach even greater heights. The British Games Institute is that organisation. I really hope it is created. Andy Payne OBE, CEO, AppyNation and Chairman of the British Esports Association
Helping young talent take part in the thriving games industry will promote modern culture and benefit the economy. BGI should be a priority for the UK government. Frank Sagnier, CEO, Codemasters
The BGI represents a fantastic opportunity for the games industry to speak with a single, powerful and full industry-supported voice. This clarity and focus will open new opportunities to the benefit of the UK Games industry as a whole. Philip & Andrew Oliver, representing the Made in Creative UK Campaign.
This is an idea whose time has come. These are exciting and challenging days for the UK games industry and having the BGI to co-ordinate, support and augment the good work being done by so many different organisations will be of enormous value. Paul Gardner, Wiggin LLP
I fully support the proposal for the BGI. A new national agency with a remit to support the video games industry will help provide funding and skilled talent for UK games studios, and will also champion the culture and economic contribution of British games to the public. Carl Cavers, CEO, Sumo-Digital