Are UK games about to become â??culturally Britishâ???

Are UK games about to become â??culturally Britishâ???

By Rob Crossley

June 18th 2009 at 6:37PM

DCMS confirms that the proposed â??culturally Britishâ?? game tax test will be based on the current film test

A ‘culturally British’ test – to determine which UK game projects may receive tax relief – will be based on a similar test used by the UK film council, the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) has confirmed.
 
The Government is set to review whether the UK games industry deserves better tax breaks in order to make the sector more globally competitive. As outlined in the Digital Britain report, if such a review is in favour of the industry, then UK dev projects will receive tax breaks if they are deemed to be making “culturally British video games.”

Speaking to Develop, the DCMS spokesperson said that this culturally British game test will be “based on the same rules that we have for films.”

At this stage in the government’s review, the cultural game test has not been finished nor shown to the public, though the DCMS explained that “the way films have to qualify to be culturally British would be the same as games.”

Looking at the Culturally British film test, it’s clear that any kind of similar test for the games industry could dramatically change how games are made, where they are produced, what characters they follow, where the narrative is set and indeed how much of the subject matter is entwined in British culture.

The UK Film council has produced a list of films which have achieved status as being Culturally British, and include popular movies such as Hot Fuzz, 28 Weeks Later and RocknRolla.

Currently, the UK Film Council’s culture test is based on a range of criteria, most of which could feasibly translate to game development.

The cultural test for film awards each applicant points from four different sections, with the maximum points in each section shown below:

a) Cultural Content (16 pts)
–  Determining whether the film’s narrative is set in the UK, whether its lead characters are British, whether the film is centred on British subject matter, and if the dialogue is recorded “in the English language”.

b) Cultural Contribution (4 pts)
– Determining whether the film represents “a diverse British culture, British heritage or British creativity”

c) Cultural Hubs (3 pts)
– Determining whether the film is produced in the UK studios.

d) Cultural Practitioners (8 pts) – Determining whether the cast, crew and/or producers come from the EEA (European Economic Area), with points besed on each role.

The maximum points available are 31. For a film project to pass as culturally British, at least 16 points are required.

However, films have to score particularly high for being set in the UK, and for having lead characters as British residents (both in part A). If films fail to do so, then a significant number of points need to be made up through being “based on British subject matter or underlying material.”

As the Digital Britain report states, the Government is still reviewing whether such a tax relief system is to be put in place.

Go here for ‘Culturally British’ film test.