Industry body says Develop's findings back up the need for clarity among professions

Skillset calls for better classification of the game development sector

Creative Skillset is calling for games companies to agree to a consistent approach to research, following findings by Develop, which showed that its 2012 census of the creative industries presented an inaccurate picture of today’s UK games workforce.

Skillset estimated that just 5,500 people are working in the UK games industry today in its census, which was published in early July.

Tiga distanced itself from these figures, and UKIE also agreed that the methodology behind them was not as concrete as it would have liked, as our sister publication MCV reported.

As part of our research for the Develop 100 UK Studio Hot List, we found that there are currently more than 500 game development studios alone operating in the UK.

That does not include outsourcing or services firms, such as testing outfits, sound specialists or CGI production houses that cater for the games sector, of which there are many.

Both Creative Skillset’s and TIGA’s research showed an overall decline of the games sector.

Skillset said workforce estimates varied due to how companies have classified themselves in the different surveys, and this has led to differences in estimates of employment in the games sector.

So now the skills body is inviting games companies to join its employer panel to agree better consistency for classifying the games professionals and their various specialist segments.

“Whereas TIGA’s research has a specific focus on just the games industry, Creative Skillset’s Census covers multiple sectors, which can make direct comparisons misleading. In our research we have found some games companies classifying themselves as interactive media,” said Dr Kion Ahadi, head of research and evaluation at Creative Skillset.

“This is largely due to the change in games platforms from traditional consoles to tablets and smartphones. These variations reinforce the problem in comparing data from different surveys and the importance of consistency across the industry.”

Skillset said this variation in classification was evident in Develop’s recently published UK Studio Hot List. It points out that many of the companies in our game studios list would be classified within Skillset’s Census as animation and interactive media rather than games.

UKIE CEO Dr Jo Twist, agreed: “It can be difficult to get a definitive picture and a complete dataset. It is important that we all work together to agree on how we are classified and measured as a sector and we encourage every company to participate in research projects trying to address this, such as Creative Skillset’s industry panels, the Develop 100 and Tiga’s census.

“The problem remains that there is no single industry agreed methodology on measurement, which can lead to confusing and sometimes conflicting information. We have been working on the DCMS classification codes to fix this, as well as projects such as the digital download chart to understand the size, value and nature of our sector.”

Creative Skillset has been working on definitions research in partnership with UKIE, NESTA, Creative & Cultural Skills and the Department for Culture Media and Sport to review the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) and Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) codes that represent the wider Creative Industries, which include the games industry.

Ahadi explained: “This is an important piece of research as the current classification and definition of the Creative Industries understates the value and scale of our industries. It is only by accurately classifying which industries and occupations make up the sectors that we are able to measure the size of the workforce and the economic contribution of the industries to growth.”

Skillset will present a report to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) later this year that recommends changes to the definitions to be adopted in the next round of ONS research due in 2017 and 2020.

Skillset’s industry panels will help influence strategy and these classifications for the games industy. To find out more about the Creative Skillset Census visit the website.

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