Livingstone and Gibson call for new UK games investment fund

The Virtual Westminster Palace as seen in Assassin's Creed Syndicate
Sean Cleaver

By Sean Cleaver

January 23rd 2017 at 5:15PM

Both UKIE and TIGA will back the newly proposed British Games Institute scheme to promote cultural, creative and economic impact of games.

Industry legend and Develop Award winner Ian Livingstone CBE, with industry analyst Rick Gibson, are announcing their intention to start a new government backed investment scheme called the British Games Institute.

The idea is that the newly established scheme will be awarded government funding, much like existing institutions such as the BFI, but with a focus purely on the video gaming industry.

This plan for a British Games Institute, which has the backing of both the UKIE and TIGA industry trade bodies will be the first time in eight years that full agreement and backing has been given to a cultural programme. The last of these, Games Up, was a scheme that introduced tax relief for the UK games industry in 2009.

Whereas the BFI has previously taken the reins for investment into digital industries, the new BGI would focus on studio investment, making sure that new development houses don’t shut down within two years of opening. There could also be reinvestment into the scheme from any games that are backed that return profits.

The BGI will be set up as a charity by Livingstone and Gibson and will seek new funding from Government on the back of PM Theresa May’s industrial strategy, announced earlier today.

The strategy calls for industries and investors to come up with a plan that will encourage growth and productivity in their respective fields, and with the creative sector being identified as one such industry, the scheme could be very important for the UK games industry.

In an annoucement by Ian Livingstone CBE and Rick Gibson, they have said:

"Theresa May has identified the Creative Industries as one of 5 sectors to assist. Games are one of the least well-funded. Games’ economic impact was worth 23% of the UK’s combined screen sector, compared to 60% for film and the remainder for TV and animation. But film compares favourably to games, getting £170m per annum compared to £5m for games. That’s 30 times more public funding.

"The BFI is a remarkable organisation doing valuable work funding commercial film production, research and educational projects as well as heritage and training projects. We want to use the BFI as a template for a new agency funded by new government money to deliver long term impact for the video games industry.

"We believe that games should receive the same recognition and status as other British Creative Content sectors. It should win funding in proportion with its achievements and its massive potential for growth."

CEO of UKIE, Dr Jo Twist said, “we know games are an economic success story, but games are also a key part of culture and an important form of expression, not just entertainment. We have long supported the call for a dedicated and coordinated approach to supporting and funding content, talent and new ideas, to give our sector and businesses the cultural capital to innovate." You can read more from Dr Jo Twist's response to today's green papaer over on our sister site, MCV.

Dr Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA, also backs the scheme, saying, “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 a new national games week filled with events, hackathons and competitions around the UK.”

“Video games have wide impact on our culture in many positive ways, as our trade bodies have long been saying” said Rick Gibson to Develop, who is keen to stress that this is not another trade body. “Our trade bodies have worked hard for many years on initiatives that have had lasting benefit for all our companies – be it Tax Relief, PEGI, NextGen Skills Academy, university accreditation. The BGI should not be another trade body. We’re proposing it should be a non-membership charity with brand new government funding that builds on multiple initiatives that we and the trade bodies have been proposing. That’s why they are deeply involved in our proposals”.

The impact of extra funding, according to Gibson, could be beneficial for the country. “Let’s multiply our existing economic impact by funding 40 games a year, some of them up to £500,000. Let’s take London Games Week and spread it around the country, move it around the game [sector] clusters year to year. Let’s back the valuable creative and cultural work of the National Videogame Arcade. We could even, one day, work with universities to gather the latest techniques from our leading studios and make that best practice knowledge available to all.”

“Games have always been cultural products. It’s time we sat at the top table of the UK’s most important industries. So I’m delighted to see that games are mentioned in the Government’s new Green paper as world-leading. Let’s keep it that way”

You can find more information on the newly opened website at www.britishgamesinstitute.com.