16 th November 2010
For Immediate Release
Game Central - the regional games network for the West Midlands – marked its first anniversary at the Gaming and Digital Technology event at Birmingham Science Park Aston today as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Having already stacked up an impressive list of achievements in its first year, covering everything from skills development for the industry to direct investment in new games companies, Jason Hall, Head of Innovation and New Markets for Screen WM - primary supporters of Game Central - outlined the need to develop a stronger support structure for the UK Games Industry, saying:
“With games like Black Ops making headlines after reaping in $365m in its first day of sales, it’s easy to assume the games industry is doing very well and doesn’t need any support. But the truth is that the 15% of games developers in the UK went to the wall in the year to 2009 and the UK has now slipped from being the third largest games development territory in 2008 to around sixth at present.
With the growth in popularity of social games, new development platforms including iPhones, iPad and Kinect and the advent of cloud-based gaming services, the games industry has been identified as being primed for economic and creative growth. Game Central and Screen WM – in a little over a year – have established a significant voice and presence in the UK to help achieve that growth. Jason Hall continues …
“The games industry is currently going through dramatic transformation – never have there been more opportunities, but these come with significant challenges and a broad range of support is required to help the industry overcome them. It’s not all about the tax breaks”.
Over £250k has been invested by Game Central in conjunction with Screen WM in West Midlands games companies across a wide array of projects including pervasive games, educational games, social games and digital distribution which has helped launch five new games companies in the region , including Chromaroma and Soshi Games.
Game Central has supported high profile events such as the first State of Independence games conference focused on opportunities for indie games developers and self-publishing, forging partnerships with regional networks Game Horizon and Game Republic; X48 Microsoft XNA Gamecamp, alongside Microsoft and Mudlark and a pervasive games lab run by Hide&Seek and Fierce Festival.
The network also continues to host regular regional networking ‘Meet ‘em Up’ events in conjunction with partners including BAFTA & Blue GFX which bring together those working in the region’s industry with high profile speakers such as Activision, Blitz, Freestyle Games, Six to Start, Fish In A Bottle, Hide & Seek and more.
Game Central has also supported the development of a pioneering games skills initiative Gamer Camp in association with Birmingham City University - a Birmingham-based training course for aspiring games artists and programmers from both within and outside the ever-expanding industry. Following a successful Game Central-supported pilot project last year, this has now been officially launched as a fully-fledged skills training programme with four week, three month and nine month courses across a range of development platforms.
To mark its first year and to help cement its future, Game Central invited Noah Falstein, international games industry consultant and former senior employee of both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg for their LucasArts and Dreamworks Interactive games divisions, to Birmingham to present a keynote speech at Hello Business.
Game Central will be seeing out a successful 2010 with the last Meet ‘em Up of the year ‘Save the Videogame’ on Wednesday 24 th of November in Birmingham. Speakers Iain Simons (Game City Festival director) and James Newman will be talking about their work on the National Videogame Archive explaining the origins of this new project, and addressing the issues surrounding digital heritage and inviting the regions industry to have their say in the preservation of this most important of cultural forms. Meet ‘em Up: Save the Videogame 24 th November, 6:30-10pm, Urban Coffee Company, 30 Church Street, Birmingham. http://savethevideogame.eventbrite.com/
As the West Midlands is a major centre of games development and home to some of Europe’s most innovative companies, Game Central aims to build on this work to facilitate more collaboration, improve knowledge, increase local and international trade for regional games companies and help connect industry to policy-makers to inform UK policy on support for the industry with the aim of building a robust sector over the coming years.
For more information please contact Sarah Arnesen, Marketing and Communications Manager, Screen West Midlands.
T: 0121 265 7120
NOTE TO EDITORS:
About Game Central
Game Central is the regional games network for the West Midlands. Established by Screen WM and Producers Forum and supported by Advantage West Midlands, the network helps support and promote the region’s games industry.
About Screen WM
Birmingham and the wider region is home to some if the UK’s most innovative digital creative and cultural businesses; developing international award-winning and commercially successful computer games, TV programmes and feature films for global markets. As part of the knowledge economy the creative industries are playing an important role in driving the UK out of recession.
Screen WM is the strategic lead organisation for these growing and dynamic creative sectors. Our remit is to work with national and local government, and other partners, to ensure the screen media industries are supported, promoted and developed. Through focused intervention we provide highly specialist business support, public-private commercial investment and advocacy for emerging and high growth digital creative and cultural companies.
Working with the UK Film Council and other partners we also deliver Lottery investment to a diverse range of cultural projects and organisations such as film festivals, archive and film education initiatives. We help to identify and nurture the talent of the future and to the cultural wealth of the UK.
Our work covers the West Midlands’ region: Birmingham, Black Country, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire & Worcestershire