Why the BGI exists and How the BGI operates
Public funding for games fell between 2016 and 2017 by 12% to just over £4m (excluding Video Games Tax Relief). The funded schemes – primarily the UK Games Fund and Creative England – do an excellent job but there’s still not enough support!
After we proposed the idea of the BGI, we consulted with over 110 different organisations in detail and we changed our plans as a result. What the sector told us was that a new agency for games should deliver:
- Long term vision: The BGI has 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.
- Faster change: The lack of an independent national organisation to deliver these strategic wins for the games sector is why the trade bodies Ukie and TIGA have separately and repeatedly called for government to fund a new national games agency. Such an agency could deliver faster change than purely industry-led approaches, but must do so in collaboration with existing organisations.
- Centre of gravity for games: The BGI’s programmes are already providing 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 is championing the value of games as cultural products to the public, to other funding bodies and to politicians.
- Empower the regions: The BGI is not a London-based organisation and it is helping make new regional funding more efficient by freeing clusters up to concentrate on local issues that really help local companies without duplicating administrative overheads, and will provide funding for regional festivals.
- Collaboration: Collaboration is at the heart of how the BGI operates. Every BGI programme is collaborative, whether it is working with investors, schools, arts organisations, local bodies, third sector organisations, universities and of course games studios themselves.
- Complement the trade bodies by performing a different role: The BGI is performing a different but complementary role to existing organisations, especially the trade bodies but also other third sector organisations and schemes, whose vital work must continue. The BGI is not a membership organisation, does not lobby government (beyond requesting funding for its programmes) and will work closely with trade bodies to increase the impact of their programmes, quite possibly providing a new source of funding for schemes they propose.
- 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 is encouraging cross-fertilisation between programmes. Examples include baking diversity and inclusion into all programmes, training grant recipients to be investment-ready, cross-promoting BGI programmes at festivals it funds and advocating diversity and apprenticeships to the industry from multiple platforms at once.
- Enable new Lottery funding: The BGI is uniquely positioned to make the case for new Lottery funding for games. The BGI 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