Gaming heavyweights urge government to fund British Games Institute to support UK economic and cultural growth

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:

  1. To encourage the development of the art, science and technology of games throughout the UK;
  2. To research and promote games’ impact on and reflection of British culture;
  3. To gather and share the artistic, technical and commercial expertise in games production;
  4. 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.”


Quote Appendix

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.

BGI launches petition

Following the release of our new campaign, the BGI team has launched a petition asking the games sector to back the call by over 500 games, investment, arts and educational leaders to fund the BGI’s programmes.

Sign the petition!

We owe a special thank you to Will Barr at Billygoat in Belfast for sharing this lovely image of Big Ben taking off from their wonderful, irreverent and classically British game – Her Majesty’s Spiffing (PS4, XBox One and Steam, iOS and Android). Watch the trailer here.


Build up to launch

The BGI team is head down preparing for launching the national campaign to persuade government to fund a new national agency for games culture. A wide ranging, industry-led social and national media campaign is planned with the help of the lovely Propeller PR people and lots of influential games figures. It’s been pretty exhausting for the 2 volunteers running this campaign for the last 9 months but sector support has been phenomenal. Watch this space!

Tons of artwork for the BGI site received

The BGI team would like to thank the 56 studios that have kindly sent in game art for us to showcase on the new site. Props to:

Rebellion, Ninja Theory, Playniac, Nellyvision, Future Games of London, nDreams, Supermassive Games, First Touch Games, Evil Twin Artworks, Denki, Roll7, Outplay Entertainment, Gram Games, AppyNation, Yakuto, Ripstone, Tikipod, Interactionman, Hutch, Neonplay, Tableflip Games, Dream Harvest Games, Viewpoint Games, Turbulenz, Midoki, A Collection of Bits, Superpunk, Splendy, Bitmap Bureau, Quantum Soup, Shortround Games, Dopamine, The Game Creators, The Secret Police, Greenfly Studios, Steve Ince, AdLiberum Games, Another Place Productions, Modern Dream, Brightrock Games, Wales Interactive, MuHa Games, Playsport Games, Triangular Pixels, Playrise Games, Betajester, Altered Gene, Pete Ainsworth, Execution Unit, Crashlab, Billygoat, Grey Alien Games, Shark Bowl Games, Spilt Milk Studios and Automaton.

No better indication of the range of British games talent!

BGI referenced in the Bazalgette review

The BGI team is delighted to read that the BGI initiative has been referenced in the Bazalgette review of the Creative Industries on behalf of the DCMS.

There is an ongoing discussion in the industry about supporting the creation of British intellectual property in this field and recognising games as a cultural and artistic force in society. Initiatives such as the BAFTA Games Awards and awareness raising by trade bodies Ukie and TIGA and others have helped our understanding of the economic and cultural value – and further potential – of the sector. More recently a number of figures in the industry have proposed an equivalent of the BFI for video games, to promote British games and deliver targeted support. Certainly in the longer term, government should take a more strategic approach to fostering growth in the video games industry and highlighting its cultural impacts.

You can read the Review in full here

Congratulations to UK Games Fund

The BGI team extend our warm congratulations to the UK Games Finance and Talent CIC for getting such a firm recommendation for more funding for their programmes. We have been fighting for greater funding and recognition for the games sector and welcome this call for historic levels of new funding for games through this excellent scheme. If government delivers such funding, this will be a great win for the games sector and we look forward to hearing more about the nature and structure of this funding in due course.

BGI submission goes into the Treasury

It’s in! The 80 page proposal describing in detail the support, rationale, programmes, costs and monitoring of the proposed British Games Institute was submitted to the Treasury. We want to again thank the nearly 100 organisations that have met with us throughout the consultation for their feedback and constructive approach towards the proposal. Now we wait and see how civil servants respond.

Consultation finishes

The BGI has completed the final working group meeting of this phase of the consultation. Following advice from Ukie and TIGA, the BGI team has conducted a wide-ranging consultation with stakeholders across the industry to assess whether the plans were fit for purpose. These consultations have triggered substantial changes to the BGI’s programmes as first proposed. The consultation has comprised:

Continue conference: Round table discussion introducing BGI to arts organisations at the National Videogame Foundation’s arts meets games conference.

Develop conference: Q&A with Rick Gibson, Ian Livingstone, Richard Wilson and Jo Twist attended by 75-100 developers. Read MCV’s take here

Online consultation: A public consultation ran online, with a small number of responses. Read people’s comments here

British Council consultation roundtable: A round table with Rick Gibson describing and taking questions in detail about current plans and discussing issues with 20 games, arts, education and investment stakeholders.

Skills working group: A group of education, university, games employers and trade bodies debated and amended the skills programme.

Finance working group: A group of investors, angels, mentors, games funds and trade bodies debated and amended the Finance programme.

Culture working group: A group of arts organisations and cultural games developers debated and substantially changed the culture programme.

Strategy working group: A group of trade bodies, studios and angels discussed how to deliver the BGI proposal.

Bilateral meetings: Rick Gibson and Ian Livingstone have met an additional 75 organisations to get feedback on the proposal.

We want to thank over 110 different organisations for collaborating with BGI and helping us get the proposal into shape for submission.

Working groups are meeting


The BGI team is hard at work organising and running working groups in 4 areas (finance, culture, skills and strategy) with nearly 30 different organisations, following on from a round table organised by British Council and Ukie. We would like to thank British Council, Ukie and Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe for hosting these events, as well as the attendees for adding their detailed feedback on the proposals.