Sean Cleaver speaks to festival director, Michael French, about this years London Games Festival and an offer for Develop readers
Tell us about the history of the London Games Festival
We debuted last year and instantly made an impact with 38,000 visitors to our events over 10 days. The line-up last year included a range of events hosted by us, EGX Rezzed and the BAFTA Games Awards, Now Play This at Somerset House – and our signature moment, a giant Monopoly board at Trafalgar Square.
For 2017 we’re aiming bigger – we expect to see 50,000 attend across the board.
The whole project is delivered by Games London, which is a joint initiative between capital screen agency Film London and UK trade body Ukie. We’re funded by the Mayor of London through the LEAP, which supports projects that drive business growth and create jobs. The Festival is a key moment in the Games London programme and when we’re not organising the festival we are working on a trade programme that brings investors in to the city and takes developers out on trade missions.
London is the UK’s biggest hub for games and one of the key centres in the world for making and playing games. There are over 500 games companies in the capital, with leaders in mobile games, big budget games and eSports, plus emerging fields like artificial intelligence and VR. Many Londoners may not realise that some of the most popular games in the world, such as Monument Valley or Football Manager, are made on their doorstep.
Going forward our plan is to make London the games capital of the world through our Mayor of London-backed £1.2m plan to grow the number of games businesses here, support the existing ones, attract more investors to fund companies here, and promote the city through the London Games Festival. London is a hotbed of talent, a financial hub, and is globally respected for its culture and creativity. The city is a real creative crossroads where tech-driven areas like film and TV, animation, VFX and games fields work in great complement and are world-leading hubs.
Plus we’re an iconic city for the many other finer arts, our nightlife and museums and culture. Right now in the city there are projects going on that mix theatre with VR, Academy Award-winning actors making console games, and some iconic museums working on ways to collect and present games. There’s no other city in the world where you’d see that happen. Plus there is some fantastic government-led support for games such as the tax relief that can reduce the cost of games production by up to a quarter.
What’s new this year at the London Games Festival?
The Festival’s objective is to change perceptions around games – whether you are a games fan, a newcomer, or an investor. So we’re always looking to provide something new. Our programme showcases how we have investable businesses, make world-leading games, and that the culture around games can be surprising and eye-opening. We’ve just announced our key cultural tent poles – a music concert that features a live soundtrack alongside gameplay, an exhibition of games at Somerset House called Now Play This, and then a closing- weekend cosplay parade.
The Games Finance Market will bring together 60 games studios meeting 60 investors for the biggest – and only - event of its type in the UK. As for the parade... this will be a standout moment on the streets of the City, featuring cosplayers and official games characters.
The plan is to make the Festival deliver something as culturally rich and business growing back
to London the way London Film Festival or London Fashion Week does. We’re a nice contrast to the established events, too, in a vibrant city that people want to visit and with a range of events to suit many different audiences.
EGX Rezzed, March 30th to April1st, Tobacco Dock
Dear EstherLive, April 1st, St John’s at Hackney
AI Summit, April 3rd, Regent Street Cinema
Mixed Reality Summit, April 4th, Regent Street Cinema
Games Finance Market, April 4th-6th, The Grange Tower Bridge
BAFTA Games Awards, April 6th, Tobacco Dock
Now Play This, April 7th-9th, Somerset House
Games Character Parade, April 8th, City of London
For the latest updates and how to buy tickets head to: www.games.london