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.

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