National Videogame Museum closes to protect visitors and staff 

Museum shuts temporarily as Coronavirus outbreak worsens

Sheffield 1200 16/03/2020: The BGI, which operates the National Videogame Museum, announced it was temporarily closing the Museum with immediate effect in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ian Livingstone CBE, Chair of the BGI and NVM founder patron, said: “We are immensely proud to run one of the most interactive museums in the country and we take great care over hygiene standards, but we owe a duty of care to our visitors and staff during the current Coronavirus outbreak. Before the Museum records its first case, the charity’s trustees have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close the National Videogame Museum to protect our community and our people. The National Videogame Museum is now under threat. As a new charity, we have no safety net of public funding to support us through the Coronavirus outbreak. We call on the government to help support at-risk organisations like ours now.”

The National Videogame Museum hosted over 40,000 visitors including scores of schools in 2019. It runs exhibitions, events, workshops and other school sessions linked to the national curriculum. Its mission statement is to create unique playable exhibitions about videogames; inspire children about what games mean and how they are made; reveal career paths into the UK’s fastest growing creative industry; and encourage everyone, whatever their background, to play, understand and make games.

The BGI’s Director of Culture Iain Simons said “Our decision to suspend the Museum will protect our visitor community and our staff until it’s safe to reopen. This is a particularly difficult decision for us, coming just after a record half term with over 2,500 visitors in 10 days and before a full programme of events, workshops and new exhibitions rolling into the Summer”.

The NVM is the only museum in the UK solely dedicated to the collection and preservation of videogame culture and is one of the leading institutions in the world in this field. The charity is mostly funded by visitor ticket sales, with additional patronage from some games companies and individuals, and grants from private trusts and foundations. It currently receives no public funding for running the Museum.

“Like many independent museums, our funding has always been tight, so we are hugely grateful to those individuals, companies and trusts that have stepped up and supported us as we launched our Museum in Sheffield. Despite videogames being one of the most loved and consumed cultural forms in the world, public funding to support them is minimal. The BGI, an educational charity, is working to change that through the NVM and other programmes, but the risk with Coronavirus is that a whole class of cultural institutions like ours could disappear if funding is prioritised towards bigger, better known and already well-funded organisations.” said Rick Gibson, BGI CEO.

The charity announced the decision as other organisations voluntarily suspended public spaces. The charity hopes to raise sufficient funds to re-open after the Coronavirus has peaked later this year.

Notes to Editors
A press pack including images and video of the galleries is available here.

Interviews

If you would like to interview BGI trustees and staff, please contact Conor Clarke on conor@thenvm.org or 07939 465667.

Interviewees

Ian Livingstone CBE
Ian is one of the founding fathers of the UK games industry and has a long track record of working to support the growth of the sector. He co-founded iconic games company Games Workshop in 1975, and co-created the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks in 1982 which have sold over 17 million copies to date. He designed Eureka, the first computer game published by Domark in 1984, and joined the company in 1992 as a major investor and director, overseeing a merger that created Eidos plc in 1995, where he served as Executive Chairman until 2002. At Eidos he launched major franchises including Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. He co-authored the Next Gen review in 2011 published by Nesta, recommending changes in ICT education policy to bring computer science into the national curriculum as an essential discipline. He is a serial angel investor in multiple UK games studios, chair of Playdemic and PlayMob, and Member of the Creative Industries Council and Creative Industries Federation. He was appointed OBE in 2006, and has also received a BAFTA Special Award, a British Inspiration Award, the Develop Legend Award, an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Bournemouth University and an Honorary Doctorate of Technology by Abertay University, Dundee for his contribution to the UK computer and video games industry. He was appointed CBE in the 2013 New Year Honours list.

Iain Simons, Culture Director, the BGI
Iain co-founded the National Videogame Archive of the UK in 2008, directs the GameCity festival, which he founded in 2006, and founded the National Videogame Arcade which became the National Videogame Museum and moved to Sheffield in 2018. As well as developing curatorial and interpretive strategies for the BGI and the National Videogame Museum, he speaks about videogame culture internationally for a wide variety of audiences and has written for both the popular and academic press, as well as several books including Difficult Questions About Videogames (Suppose, 2004), Inside Game Design (Lawrence King, 2007) and a History of Videogames (Carlton, 2018) with Professor James Newman.

Rick Gibson, Founder and CEO, The BGI
A games strategist for 20 years, Rick founded 2 pan-industry campaigns: Games Up?, which successfully campaigned for the introduction of Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR), a relief that has paid out over £500m to UK games companies since it began in 2014; and for the foundation of the BGI itself, which won the support of over 560 games and cultural organisations and he founded in 2019.

 

About the National Videogame Museum
The NVM is run by the BGI, a registered charity number 1183530 that educates the public about the art, science, history and technology of videogames. The NVM celebrates videogame culture and allows the public to play most of its exhibits, which include games consoles, arcade machines and other interactive experiences, including games designed exclusively for the Museum. The Museum displays the UK’s only permanently accessible collection of over 100 videogames as well as a large collection of game memorabilia and ephemera. Formerly the National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham, the Museum has welcomed over 120,000 visitors, including hundreds of school visits, since it opened in 2016. The Museum presents a mixture of permanent and temporary exhibitions that are scheduled up to 2 years in advance, some of which tour the UK. For more details about the NVM, please visit: http://www.thenvm.org

Games Education Summit moves to September

The BGI announced today that the GamesEd20 Summit is moving back to September 7th and 8th at the same venue in Sheffield Hallam University. The Coronavirus has impacted the availability of delegates and key contributors to attend in April, and therefore the charity and the Summit’s steering committee has taken the difficult decision to move the Summit to later in the year.

Tickets are still available at gamesed20.eventbrite.com/.

National Videogame Museum Launches Videogames Preservation Network

Before It’s Too Late: Saving Videogames.

National Videogame Museum Launches Videogames Preservation Network

 Sheffield, 25/02/2020: The National Videogame Museum is launching a new initiative today at BFI Southbank, leading a network of museums and independent collectors who are engaged in videogame preservation. The Videogame Heritage Society (VHS) includes the Science and Media Museum, Bath Spa University, British Library and Museum of London as well as many independent collectors. It will develop best practice and share knowledge across the museum sector and beyond about preserving and exhibiting videogames.

Ian Livingstone, chair of the BGI (the charity which governs the NVM) commented, “This group is for anyone who cares about or works in videogame preservation. We recognise that in the UK and around the world, the expertise in this field isn’t just locked inside museums and heritage institutions, but also inside a wide range of dedicated and passionate private collectors. The VHS will bring everyone together to preserve the important heritage of videogames in our country.”

The event today will also mark the launch of a new White Paper: ‘Time Extend’, on video game history, heritage and preservation. There will also be a special address from legendary Nintendo console designer Masayuki Uemura. The National Videogame Museum has worked closely alongside Uemura, who is a professor at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto and is giving a talk at the NVM on 26th February.

The NVM preserves the history of UK development through its UK Collection, a special collection within the Museum that focuses on the story of British videogames creation. This was recently launched with Rebellion, the first studio to formally collaborate with the NVM on the project.

Gina Jackson, Trustee for the BGI, said “In order to develop as an art form, to become more diverse and reflect all kinds of areas of our lives, and to build a cultural confidence that is sometimes absent, we need to be able to learn about videogames. In order to learn about them, we need to be able to access them and make sense of them. The work we’re doing at the NVM and BGI isn’t out of nostalgia. It’s out of a concern for the future. We want to be able to inspire and educate new kinds of game-makers to make new kinds of games.”

Notes to Editors

Interviews

If you would like to interview BGI trustees or NVM staff, please contact Conor Clarke on conor@thenvm.org or 0114 321 0299.

About the National Videogame Museum

The NVM is a museum in Sheffield run by the charity the BGI that educates the public on the art, science, history and technology of videogames. The NVM celebrates videogame culture and allows the public to play most of its exhibits, which include games consoles, arcade machines and other interactive experiences, including games designed exclusively for the Museum. The Museum displays the UK’s only permanently accessible collection of videogames as well as a large collection of game memorabilia and ephemera. Formerly the National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham, the Museum has welcomed over 140,000 visitors, including hundreds of school visits, since it opened in 2016. The Museum presents a mixture of permanent and temporary exhibitions, some of which tour the UK. For more details about the NVM, please visit: http://www.thenvm.org

Record number of visitors at National Video Game Museum

09 August 2019

The National Videogame Museum (NVM) in Sheffield has proudly posted record visitor numbers over the past two weeks, as it launched its family-friendly summer programme, Summer of Buttons.

Since opening for the Summer holidays on 24th July, the NVM has welcomed nearly 2,500 visitors to play and learn about videogame history. This has been an unprecedented success, as visitors from across Yorkshire and the UK have converged in Sheffield to celebrate videogame culture.

Since launching in November 2018, the museum has welcomed over 25,000 visitors, and attracted national attention as the UK’s home of videogame culture. This is the museum’s first family-friendly summer season, and has currently exceeded expectations in terms of visitor numbers and positive feedback.

The Summer programme has been a hit so far, with guests enjoying new exhibits such as 4-Player Pac-Man, which is a bespoke version of the arcade classic made to be played by a team, and the Button Bash Bundle, which has seen guests vying to set the fastest time in various athletic-based videogames. The NVM has also successfully launched an exhibit dedicated to showcasing how videogames are becoming accessible for those with physical disabilities, that has been created in conjunction with the world-leading charity Special Effect.

Alongside the well-received exhibits listed above, guests have also been able to Build-a-Button in guided workshops where they have made their own gaming input from scratch, and then used that in dedicated games set up to play.

Conor Clarke, Marketing and Communications Manager for the NVM, said:
“There has been a bit of negative discussion relating to videogames recently, which has only reaffirmed our mission to create an accessible and inclusive space for those who love videogames. That we’re currently busier than we’ve ever been demonstrates that the public is eager to learn about videogame culture, and discover the educational and cultural value of games.”

For more information, visit www.thenvm.org.

BGI looks for new trustees

The BGI is looking for up to 4 candidates to join the Trustee Board and govern the new charity. Applicants have until 0900 Monday 22nd July to apply.

Diverse applicants from across the worlds of games, charities, museums and arts and finance are being sought to help deliver the charity’s goals to celebrate, research and educate the public about:

  • the ART and cultural impact of games on individuals and our wider society.
  • the underlying SCIENCE of games development and the multitude of uniquely transferable skills that are used in sustainable game production.
  • the HISTORY of games, how they reflect societal norms of the time and how they could shape a more diverse and inclusive future.
  • the application of existing and emerging TECHNOLOGY within games development, its growing impact on multiple sectors and its use in creating sustainable studios.

If you are interested in applying, you can do so by filling in this short form and receive a pack which includes all the info you’ll need to apply.

Games Education Summit 2019 survey findings

The Games Education Summit hosted over 100 educators, games studios and 3rd sector organisations in a unique series of talks that convened leaders in games and education to talk about the state of games education. In parallel to the Summit, the BGI ran a survey to get the latest data on games education. Here are the results.

From Further to Higher Education
Educators from 39 FE and HE institutions reported that they ran a total of 125 courses, yielding an average of 3.2 / institution. 70% of the institutions ran courses at HE level only, while 15% ran courses in both HE and FE, and 15% in FE alone. 54% expected the number of courses to stay the same in 2020, while 41% anticipated more courses will launch and 5% expected fewer courses.

Respondents reported 268 lecturers on their courses, an average of 7 per institution. 59% expected the number of lecturers to stay the same in 2020, while 33% anticipated more lecturers and 8% expected fewer lecturers.

Nearly 7,000 students at just 39 institutions
These institutions reported a total of 6,695 students currently studying on their courses, an average of 172 / course. We note that 8 organisations had 300 or more students, which skews the average significantly higher. Educators were asked to project their total students in 2019 and results suggest that their student body will be slightly smaller in 2019 in comparison to 2018.

Student body diversity
An average of 14% of responding institutions’ 2018 student intake was female, and 64% of educators thought that this would stay the same next year, while 31% expected the number of females to increase and 5% the number to decline.

An average of 17% of responding institutions’ 2018 student intake was black, Asian and minority ethnic, but we note that 24% did not know or record this data.

Challenges

Educators’ biggest challenges were, in order of priority, time / workload, lack of studio placements for students, institutional pressures, lack of industry engagement, poor quality of intake and lack of diversity in intake.

66% of educators reported they are mostly confident that they are teaching what industry wants. 24% are confident and 10% are unsure.

Graduate destinations
An average of 35% of educator respondents’ graduates found jobs in established games companies while an average of 6% of graduates established games start-ups. 39% of graduates found jobs in similar industries.

Industry collaboration with educators
Educators reported 256 visiting speakers from industry last year, an average of 7 per institution. 79% of educators would like more speakers from industry, 18% wanted the same and 3% wanted fewer speakers.

When asked how educators could assist games studios, the most popular responses from all respondents were to work more closely with industry (67%), deliver better qualified graduates (50%), contribute to games in production (31%), collaborate on coursework (22%) and work on prototypes (22%).

When asked how studios could assist FE/HE institutions, the most popular responses were to give advice on course content (50%), provide more placements (28%), give lectures (25%), critique work from summer shows (17%) and invite students to visit studios (11%).

Games Education Summit
When asked what they wanted the Games Education Summit to achieve, 61% wanted to network and bridge the gap between educators and studios, 28% wanted FE/HE to gain a better understanding of what skills industry requires from graduates, 25% wanted industry to support and understand FE/HE institutions more and 14% wanted the sharing of best practice.

Games Education Summit closes

The GamesEd19 conference closed today with a succession of spirited discussions about the state of games education involving over 100 games universities, studios and 3rd sector organisations.

The Summit was generously supported by Epic Games, Sheffield Hallam University, Grads in Games, Kollider, Staffordshire University and Aim Awards, and was organised by the BGI with pivotal assistance from BGI Advisory Board member Philip Oliver from GameDragons.

Delegates from over 50 different universities and further education colleges, more than 30 studios and other related organisations such as recruiters and non-profits debated how industry engages with educators, how educators prepare students for working in games studios, the need for greater diversity amongst students, lecturers and developers, and the strategic requirements for bridging the gap between industry and education

The Summit featured practical case studies of how industry worked with educators to create Level 3 diplomas and apprenticeships.

Ian Livingstone CBE, Dr. Jake Habgood from Sheffield Hallam University, Mike Gamble from Epic Games and Dr Chris Lowthorpe from the London College of Communication gave keynotes.

Feedback from delegates on the inaugural event was positive and constructive, with many, including a new working group focused on practical outputs and new programmes, looking forward to the 2020 Summit which will take place in April 2020.

The BGI would like to thank all attendees, panelists and moderators for their input and vigorous discussions.

Please see a picture below of our keynote discussion from Ian Livingstone.

Concerted action will help tackle the deep-rooted problem of diversity in games development

Rick wrote the following article for the women in games campaign, which launched yesterday.

Over 20 years, I’ve watched the games sector change beyond recognition, apart from the gender profile in our developers, which is changing excruciatingly slowly by comparison. The sector is missing opportunities in audience, creative and economic potential from a more diverse workforce, but a concerted push by multiple agencies could trigger real, meaningful change.

Both men and women are gamers

The old stereotype – that games are played exclusively by young males – died two decades ago. Today, players’ genders reflect the general population in the West, yet the people who make games in British companies are still overwhelmingly male. If your developers reflect your audience, you’re more likely to deliver something your audience will enjoy.

Monocultures destroy creativity, damage staff retention and make staff less productive. They should be anathema to a creative industry that thrives on ideas. Diverse teams create better products from more sources of inspiration, contrasting viewpoints and stronger, broader ideas.

Financial gains for diverse companies

Diverse companies also perform better economically than non-diverse companies. A recent study found that companies with diverse executive teams are 21% more likely to have above-average profits. Simply put, companies become more viable, sustainable and profitable with diverse teams and boards.

Supply limits demand

Studios often do hire in their own image but they’re at the end of a long supply chain that starts young and is, whether inadvertently or not, filtering out more diverse candidates from an early age. Fewer girls learn to code than boys. More females drop STEM subjects at GCSE, which leads to fewer female candidates taking games diplomas and fewer studying games development at university, despite unprecedented growth in such courses in recent years. Too few female candidates make studios’ shortlists and so change stalls.

Get in early to encourage women and girls into gaming careers

What to do about it? Berating the games sector for not being diverse hasn’t worked. To tackle this intractable problem, you have to start young, at the beginning of that talent supply chain. If young females are not shown the potential of a career in games at an early age, then they won’t choose foundation subjects to build careers in games. Inspirational programmes such as Women in Games’ Ambassador programme are leading the way.

Work together to improve the visibility of opportunities

The games sector has a range of educational programmes like our Pixelheads after-school clubs and National Videogame Museum, Digital Schoolhouse, NextGen Skills Academy, TIGA university accreditation, our training programmes and Women in Games’ other programmes. They’re great, but mostly underfunded and badly signposted, which makes it difficult for young females to navigate a career path into games.

We’re working with many of these programmes plus leading further/higher education partners to collaborate and coordinate a new pan-sector initiative to tackle this deep-rooted problem through all of our programmes. There are signs that industry is getting the message and ready to change. A concerted approach from all the third sector organisations can have major impact on improving the supply of talented young women into games companies.

Women in Games campaign launches

The BGI is proud to support the launch of the Women in Games campaign, which is driving home the message about the need for more diversity in games studios in the UK and is supported by our friends at TIGA and Ukie.

You can read more about it here.

Thanks to MediaPlanet for organising the campaign, which we will be promoting at the National Videogame Museum, at the Games Education Summit 2019 and online.

 

Serpentine Galleries launches open call for AR developers on ambitious project

Our partners the Serpentine Galleries have issued a call for proposals for a project called Serpentine Augmented Architecture, a brand new AR commission that will be available for the public to view on site at the Serpentine in Summer 2019.

They are keen to reach a wide range of creative practitioners from game designers to artists and technologists to respond to a brief developed with Sir David Adjaye and Google.

The Serpentine Galleries are very forward thinking about bringing the worls of the Arts and games together in ambitious, playful digital installations, and have commissioned games before.

The deadline is the 25 February, 10AM GMT.

The website for the open call is also here:

http://www.augmentedarchitecture.org/