Games consultancy Pixel-Lab has warned that the ideas for a UK Games Academy would fall short of industry needs – suggesting instead that the government backs the founding of an organisation comparable to the British Film Institute.Two weeks ago, culture minister Shaun Woodward claimed that the industry should put its money where it s mouth is and answer the growing demand for good staff by financially backing what he called a “school for geeks”. His comments in the Financial Times have already sparked much debate amongst studios.
But Pixel-Lab, which has worked on a number of initiatives and events supporting games education including the GamesEdu conference part of the Develop In Brighton event, has been looking into a comparable ‘centre for excellence’ idea over the last 18 months which it says has identified a more pressing need that will not be satisfied by just privately funded education.
“Skills development is of major concern for many games companies, large and small, but we need to also focus on the development of short-term research, both technical and cultural,” explained Toby Barnes, Pixel-Lab MD.
“Many of the smaller organisations across the country need support when developing their business, and a lot of the current provision for business development is a misunderstood world.”
Instead, Barnes suggests UK developers as well as governement look toward creating a centre comparable to a “UK Bauhaus for the games industry”, or an interactive entertainment equivalent of the British Film Institute, that would also “perform cultural research, pushing the boundaries beyond commercial boundaries, and delivering real benefits from day one”.
“We need to look at ways to ensure there is a sustainable future for UK development, and we need to develop the already world-class talent we have in this country to ensure it stays world beating,” he said. “Replicating work in higher education would be a mistake, asking the private sector to solely fund education would be a mistake too. The government needs to be the catalyst for this work.”
A ‘British Games Institute’ “potentially would sit at the epicentre of video gaming incubation, research and skill development” says a further statement issued by Pixel-Lab.
“By creating a dynamic environment for growth the centre will provide the catalyst for creating a mature and sustainable future for videogame development, one the UK deserves. An Institute would function as the guardian and champion of video gaming in this country. It would shake off the perception that companies are staffed by ‘geeks’ and develop a mature and culturally aware industry.”