On 20 March 2013 the British Embassy’s Science and Innovation team organised a workshop in London to increase collaboration between academics and games developers across Europe. They worked with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), The Independent Game Developers’ Association (TIGA), the Creative Industries Knowledge Transfer Network (CIKTN) and the Information and Communication Technology Knowledge Transfer Network (ICT KTN) and charity Nesta to set up the event.
Designing the future of the games industry in the UK
Bringing academics and games developers together was one of the main recommendations of Nesta’s NextGen report, which suggested new ways to support the future of the games industry in the UK. As this is also a question for European competitiveness, participants came from the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, and actively contributed to the debate.
With a keynote address from Ian Livingston OBE, Life President of games company Eidos and co-author of the NextGen report, a number of themes were explored by the guest speakers in their presentations:
The importance to the video games industry of: access to finance for games developers, a workforce trained in computer science from an early age, control of intellectual property originating in the UK, super-fast broadband and dispelling negative images of the creative and video games industries
Why research and knowledge exchange are important for the innovative and disruptive world of the games industry: the case study of a BAFTA-nominated game showed how researchers and developers had worked together on new narrative techniques and emotional responses to immerse the player.
The concept of “games as a service”: fitting into a world in which consumers are increasingly paying regular subscriptions to access entertainment products like films and music.
Finding shared ambitions
These presentations set up the themes for the day’s discussions, which challenged delegates to “think the unthinkable” and identify complementary strengths and shared ambitions. As a result, a list of recommendations emerged to support greater, more effective interactions between the two communities.
A boost of support from the British Government
The event got an additional boost from the government’s announcement of £25 million in extra funding to support the creative industries. The money will be used to train workers in the creative industries in new skills and to allow the Technology Strategy Board to work with specialist small businesses, educational and research facilities and training providers. This will provide the Creative Industries KTN and AHRC with more resources to implement the workshop’s recommendations.
The Role of UK Trade & Investment
UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) will also be following up with the workshop’s participants, to see if our teams can facilitate meetings across Europe.
Working with UKTI will allow both academics and developers to reach further afield, and develop partnerships that they might not have been able to independently. Support from UKTI could be anything from market research projects, to product launches, to networking events in Embassy premises.
Furthermore, attending the event allowed UKTI to gain a better understanding of what developers in the UK (and Europe) are currently doing, as well as their needs and problems, and ideas for moving forward in the future. We can feed this into future events and opportunities of this nature to better tailor them for our audiences.