A score of UK games industry veterans have called on the government to increase support for the sector by funding a new national agency, the British Games Institute (BGI). First proposed at the end of last year by Ian Livingstone and Rick Gibson, the BGI has now taken to Change.org to get UK decision makers to sit up and take notice.
If the BGI gets founded, it would be modelled after the British Film Instite and act on behalf on government to ensure the continued growth and contribution of the UK games sector to Britain’s economic and cultural landscape. Supported by existing trade bodies Ukie and TIGA and over 500 senior games, investment, arts and education figures, the BGI would have four main objectives: to encourage the development of art, science and technology of games throughout the UK; to research and promote games’ impact on and reflection of British culture; to gather and share the artistic, technical and commercial expertise in games production; and to promote and increase diversity and inclusion in the UK games sector.
Ian Livingstone CBE said: “Some of the most creative and competitive games studios in the world are based in the UK, yet almost all UK games companies struggle to raise finance and access skills, and have to fight against low public recognition of our amazing art form. The BGI’s programmes will help address these challenges. I’m convinced that the BGI can increase the level of investment, widen games’ cultural impact and source the skills our studios need to stay world class.”
Rick Gibson said: “We’ve been making games for nearly 40 years in the UK. The first ever computer game wasn’t made in California, it was made in Cambridge in 1952. The best-selling entertainment product of all time, Grand Theft Auto, is British. However, policymakers, large public funding sources and the media are only just waking up to games’ beneficial impact both economically and culturally. A new national games agency can place games at the heart of the UK’s cultural pantheon by funding games production, festivals and heritage, and cutting-edge skills.”
Dr Richard Wilson, CEO, TIGA added: “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.”
Nicola Mendelsohn CBE, VP Facebook EMEA and Co-chair of Creative Industries Council, added: “Games are one of the most important bridges between technology and the arts. Although the UK games sector is at the cutting edge of a rapidly growing global industry, it faces significant challenges in access to finance and skills, and low awareness of just how deeply games are embedded in our culture. The British Games Institute represents a unique opportunity for government to address these challenges with support from a very wide range of arts, education, finance and games organisations. I’m proud to lend my support.”