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Next Gen Skills campaign isn't TIGA's "strategic priority"

Wed 30 Nov 2011 7:55am GMT / 2:55am EST / 11:55pm PST
Politics

Wilson explains why trade body hasn't joined the coalition with UKIE, NESTA and supporting tech giants

TIGA

TIGA is the trade association representing the UK’s games industry. The majority of our members are...

tiga.org

Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA, has explained the trade association's absence from the new Next Gen Skills campaign, which aims to lobby the government for improvements in computer science education.

"It's simply because there are certain things we want to focus on, certain things we want to concentrate on, the tax issue is very, very important to us, access to finance is very important to us," Wilson told GamesIndustry.biz

"We have a specific agenda around improving education skills, we've done things like the Education Matching scheme, and it's just a matter of strategic priority, we want to focus on those two activities."

The Next Gen Skills campaign coalition, spearheaded by UKIE and its publishing partners including Microsoft, EA and Activision, is backed by Google, Microsoft, NESTA, the Guardian Media Group and TalkTalk.

Despite not getting on board the lobbying group, Wilson was keen to point to TIGA's commitment to the education issue, and said there was much both in the report and the government's response that TIGA supported.

"We've been publishing stuff on trying to to improve education and skills to make the games industry even better for some time," he added.

"In fact when you look at those first ten recommendations that were listed in the Next Gen report a lot of them were already in TIGA proposals."

Richard Wilson said earlier in the year that TIGA has no interested in merging with UKIE, despite calls from the government and industry professionals for the UK's trade associations to speak with a unified voice.

While TIGA and its members aren't involved, the UK's other trade association has gone ahead and stumped up £30,000 to kick-start the Next Gen Skills campaign.

And yesterday Ian Livingstone, author of the Livingstone Hope report on which the campaign is based, hailed the first steps as successfully initiating a "quantum shift" on government thinking on computer science in the classroom.

"[Culture Minister] Ed Vaizey saw this issue was important," said Livingstone. "Now we've made enough noise for the Department of Education and BIS [the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills] to take notice. We expect future negotiation to be with the DfE."

As well as tech giant Google, Facebook has also agreed to sign up to the coalition, according to Livingstone, and progress is being made with Education Secretary Michael Gove.

14 Comments

Courses for horses. Its actually good that there are different energies focused on their own objectives. This is a great win for all.

Posted:3 years ago

#1

robert troughton UK General Manager, Epic Games

224 100 0.4
"TIGA has no interested in merging with UKIE" ... for that same reason, I definitely am not interested in signing Pitbull up for either... why should members pay to join two bodies (ie. paying more than double what they should normally) when what they're getting from that are bodies which cover maybe 30% each of what they should be doing?

I've been quite vocal against TIGA and the tax plans in the past... my question came from their statement in their "manifesto" which, to me, sounded detrimental to the entire industry if it were ever to be approved: "Maintain a relatively lightly regulated labour market in order to enable UK games businesses to operate as flexibly as possible". I spoke to Richard Wilson regarding this - and I was seriously disheartened to hear what was meant... questions should certainly be asked on this, though, more so by employees than employers perhaps.

That said, I've also been disappointed with UKIE of late. I requested the opportunity to speak to someone, admittedly somebody senior, at UKIE recently... I tried to contact the person directly (LinkedIn email), via UKIE, via a mutual colleague, etc - and never heard a single word back, not even a "could we speak later in the year?"... so, to be honest, I'm also not interested in joining a body where I'm considered too small to be able to speak to their chair people.

Anyway, what was I saying before I went on a rant?

Posted:3 years ago

#2

robert troughton UK General Manager, Epic Games

224 100 0.4
Oh, the link to the TIGA manifesto by the way - the point that I raised above was #26 here: [link url=http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/tiga-outlines-industry-manifesto
]http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/ti...[/link]

Posted:3 years ago

#3

Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant

1,692 594 0.4
1) The guys who fuelled the 8 bit home computer gaming revolution in the 1980s usually had no relevant formal education. They were self taught.
2) Gaming development is moving away from languages and towards middleware. So we will be teaching school children how it used to be done.
3) TIGA are right to concentrate on the more immediate commercial concerns of their members.

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Richard Hill-Whittall Director, Icon Games

31 10 0.3
Robert - I'd say the rant you made above was more than a little confused. What do you actually want from a trade body?

To say that TIGA's campaign for tax credits, and also things like access to finance is detrimenal to the industry really couldn't be more wrong. These issues are crucial to the industry - you seem to only really be concerned with TIGA's invlolvement (or lack thereof) for QOL issues - which really isn't TIGAs role; TIGA is a trade body represents businesses, not employees. It sounds like you are looking for a completely different sort of body to join, and as such the above criticisms about TIGA are largely irrelevant.

And UKIE are very easy to speak to - Sam Collins is a good guy and very easy to reach:

sam.collins [at] ukie.org.uk

Posted:3 years ago

#5
Lets assume tax credits were neutral worldwide, UK still becomes a challenging expensive place to develop games. Cumulatively, whatever strategy Montreal used, it is garnering its immediate short to mid term benefits.
As such, we should develop more shoreditch silicon valleys for games with pro biz incentives to stimulate, cross polinate and ultimately nurture the indie and established green shoot of game development.

This can occur via trade bodies, individual rants or ones local MP (except vaz)

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Richard Hill-Whittall Director, Icon Games

31 10 0.3
"As such, we should develop more shoreditch silicon valleys for games with pro biz incentives to stimulate, cross polinate and ultimately nurture the indie and established green shoot of game development"

Absolutely - lack of affordable office spare is a major issue - especially areas like South East/London which also lack any regional development funding. Like minded companies grouped together in flexible office space is a perfect solution, but yet there are so few around.

Posted:3 years ago

#7

robert troughton UK General Manager, Epic Games

224 100 0.4
Richard: I'm all for financial support of the games industry... but, as a tax payer, I also want to know that it's not going to be squandered only supporting ailing AAA studios... some questions were also raised at the time of TIGA's manifesto about whether or not the support they were looking for would support young, new studios - or just the larger, older ones... that was a genuine concern raised by a few people - and the question was largely ignored.

I've spoken to Sam, too, and agree... it wasn't Sam that I was hoping to speak to on this occasion though.

I wouldn't say that my points were confused at all - I just have very clear ideas about what I believe.

The games industry needs a coordinated and concerted effort to regain ground lost to Canada, France and others with tax breaks. Pouring more money into large, struggling studios isn't necessarily the best way to do that though. The government should, rightly, be looking for ROI - not just giving money to studios haemorrhaging cash nor reducing tax bills of those who are making a good profit.

As I've said before, there are better ways to do this. The government said at the time, too, that they'd like to help - but that they felt the demands of the industry needed some work (I can't remember the exact wording)... the pretty much spelled it out for people - but we just went ahead with the same (or nearly the same) demands again...

Posted:3 years ago

#8

Richard Hill-Whittall Director, Icon Games

31 10 0.3
As an industry with a range of different sized studios, there is a risk that tax break money could be lost through larger studios, but small studios are every bit as risky. Tax breaks would help stabalise the UK industry, which is dwindling year on year. Large studios also employ large numbers of staff, and would help slow down the brain drain to the larger studios in Canada, etc... Also from an employee perspective this is a good thing; more UK based games jobs and opportunities.

It also encourages inward investment, and would really give the industry a boost in terms of its reputation and standing in the UK, which lets face it is faily poor and misunderstood in a lot of quarters.

There are not better ways to do this, it is too late for that - we will just continue to lose ground and good staff. Tax breaks are every bit as beneficial for smaller studios as they are for the larger ones - and wouldn't it be great to get a few more larger publishers back into the UK! Even Eidos/Square are only really expanding in Canada, not in the UK (they are expanding their Eidos–Montréal studio and creating a new second studio, Square Enix Montréal). Those really should have opened here.

Posted:3 years ago

#9

Richard Hill-Whittall Director, Icon Games

31 10 0.3
I should add that while there is of course risk, as there is with any industry, the creative industries currently account for about 6-8% of the UK economy according to the CBI.

Its hard to find any growth industry right now, but the games industry - with the right support could and should be a solid growth industry. Yet we are fighting against places with cheaper living & business costs and often huge tax incentive packages. Talk about the odds stacked against us!

And best of all for UKGov is that games is primarily an export industry, with the Worldwide industry growing consistently and ever expanding into new areas - such as mobile apps.

Posted:3 years ago

#10
TIGA's tax breaks proposal was aimed primarily at smaller developers - they would get 30% of their costs back while larger studios would only get 20% back. So a small studio spending £100k on a game would get £30k back from the taxpayer, at a total cost to the Exchequer of less than £100m per year, i.e. half of what the UK spends on the film industry, and one thousandth of the UK deficit (not the debt - just the deficit for a year). This would have been a self-defence measure against those regions, particularly in Canada, which are directly targeting the UK industry. Unfortunately some parts of the games industry campaigned against this behind the scenes, so we missed our chance, but I hope that TIGA keeps campaigning while there is still a development community in this country.

Posted:3 years ago

#11
we could also have down the pub sessions quarterly, foster interdependancy and learn which partners, developers are around. Even have large studios partner or form alliances with various indies eg. Foundation 9 appraoch but be fiscally independent.

Such opportunities are abundant...

Posted:3 years ago

#12

Bryan Robertson Gameplay Programmer, Ubisoft Toronto

86 210 2.4
Felt the need to respond to a couple of points here:

<strong>
1) The guys who fuelled the 8 bit home computer gaming revolution in the 1980s usually had no relevant formal education. They were self taught.
</strong>

Games were also orders of magnitude less complex in the 8 bit days. Making most modern games takes serious software engineering effort. As such, education is far more important to the modern games industry than the games industry of 20-30 years ago.

<strong>
2) Gaming development is moving away from languages and towards middleware. So we will be teaching school children how it used to be done.
</strong>

Middleware doesn't write your game for you. Making games with middleware still requires you to know how to program a computer, and to do that you need to understand programming languages. In order to get anything significant out of middleware, you need to know what you're doing, and that's not going to change in the forseeable future.

Also, someone has to write that middleware.

Posted:3 years ago

#13

Elaine Project Manager, University of Abertay Dundee

2 0 0.0
The UK Government has put in place some money for small companies to build a game prototype to attract further investment or a publishing deal. The money is entrusted to Abertay University to administer. A grant of up to £25K is offered to SMEs (only), not big companies. If Robert or anyone else is interested, you can find out more from here: [link url=http://prototypefund.abertay.ac.uk/
]http://prototypefund.abertay.ac.uk/
[/link]

The fund is for companies throughout the UK. We have offered grants to 15 companies so far. They are from London to Liverpool to Dundee etc. Some have already got attractive publishing deals.

The deadline for next round is 14 Dec. But we do have a few rounds of applications open every year.

Posted:3 years ago

#14

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