BFI Video Games Day 2016

in association with GameMakers, Leeds.

Thursday 3 November 2016
Futurelabs, 1 Eastgate, Leeds, LS2 7LY

Stuart Burnsidefrom the BFI's Certification Team tries out Dubit's VR.

Stuart Burnsidefrom the BFI's Certification Team tries out Dubit's VR.

Following on from the success of our first BFI Video Games day in London in 2014 and our second Video Games day in Nottingham in 2015, this year we took the BFI Video Games Day 2016 in association with GameMakers to FutureLabs in Leeds.

You can follow the day’s Twitter feed at storify.com/AnnaMansiBFI/bfigamesday.

BFI Head of Certification, Anna Mansi opens the Video Games Day in Leeds.

BFI Head of Certification, Anna Mansi opens the Video Games Day in Leeds.

Welcome and Intro

Anna Mansi (BFI)

This year’s BFI Video Games Day coincided with the quarterly statistics release from the BFI’s Research and Statistics Unit giving Anna Mansi, Head of the Certification Unit at the BFI, the opportunity to open the event with positive news on the growth of video games cultural test applications over the last year.

In the rolling year October 2015-September 2016, 167 video games received final certification under the cultural test, a substantial increase from 77 this time last year and a UK/EEA expenditure of £253 million. For interim certifications, 170 video games received interim certification under the cultural test for the rolling year October 2015-September 2016. This is an increase from 113 in the previous 12 month period. EEA/UK spend was £437 million. See the full report from the BFI’s Statistical Yearbook.

Anna explained why the Certification Unit runs their annual video games day and how they want to make sure the games sector is supported in the same way as the film and television sectors. She went on to outline the content of the day, the different sessions and the keynote speech. The attendees would see panels on the video games tax relief (VGTR) panel; diverse character representation in games; games/television/film crossover and the impact of the UK exiting the EU; and presentations from expert speakers on financing the VGTR; War Child; Creative England; HeadGear; and the UK Games Fund. Lastly inviting attendees to take the opportunity to speak to the panellists and presenters in the breaks and try out the games from local developers at the networking drinks at the end of the day.

Jamie Sefton, MD of Game Republic provided the opening Keynote.

Jamie Sefton, MD of Game Republic provided the opening Keynote.

Opening Keynote

Jamie Sefton (Game Republic)

We were delighted to welcome Jamie Sefton, Managing Director of Game Republic (GR) as our keynote speaker. As the largest network in the North of England and outside of London, Jamie updated the Games day attendees on their exciting new partnership with AutoDesk — their first official sponsor, the GR Student Showcase, the events he runs in the region and their trade missions for members to UK and International games conferences. If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, Jamie has also been working with Creative England to launch Game Dev Day with Creative England’s Games Lab on 24th November and organising the first Yorkshire Games Festival at the National Media Museum, Bradford and establishing the Yorkshire Screen Hub with partners Screen Yorkshire, Sheffield Doc Fest, Game Republic and the BFI.

Following Jamie, Simon Barratt founder of GameMakers, our associate partner for this year’s games day, and the founder of Barog Game Labs, outlined how GameMakers will be a hub for Games developers and creative talent in Leeds. The hub will be based at the Futurelabs location where we held our event.

The audience.

The audience.

Moses Nyachae from Saffery Champness explains how the games tax relief works.

Moses Nyachae from Saffery Champness explains how the games tax relief works.

Video Games Tax Relief

Julia Brown (Certification Analyst, BFI), Colm Seeley (Certification Analyst, BFI), Moses Nyachae (Partner, Saffery Champness), Des Ryan (Policy Adviser, HMRC), Kimberley Turner (Finance Director, Double 11)

Simon also introduced our first session of the day on the video games tax relief (VGTR). The panel included BFI Games Certification Analysts Julia Brown and Colm Seeley, Moses Nyachae, Partner at accountant’s Saffery Champness, Des Ryan, HMRC Policy Adviser and Kimberley Turner, Finance Director from the games development company Double 11.

To start the session Colm invited Moses to outline the criteria for the VGTR and what it’s worth to UK Game Developers, followed by Julia and Colm going through the video games cultural test. They outlined the different sections of the test, explaining how it works and demystifying the process with hints and tips on applying. Colm and Julia then opened up the session with a Q&A of common FAQs to Moses and Des and Kimberley shared her experience as an applicant on the process, encouraging developers to apply and approach the BFI for advice and guidance.

Julia Brown and Colm Seeley from the Certification Team explaining the cultural test.

Julia Brown and Colm Seeley from the Certification Team explaining the cultural test.

Financing the Video Games Tax Relief

Alex Chapman (Partner, Sheridans) and Anwen Griffiths (Partner, Sheridans)

After a short break, the next session succinctly followed on from how to qualify for the tax relief to how to finance the tax relief – thinking ahead about building it into your finance plan.

Alex Chapman and Anwen Griffiths, Partners from Sheridans Law Firm presented their model of how games developers can secure finance against the games tax relief. Drawing on financing models from the film sector.

Alex opened the presentation, explaining how the combination of his role as the Head of the Computer Games and Digital Media Group at Sheridans and Anwen’s expert knowledge and experience in finance structures in the film and TV sectors led them to work together on developing a financing structure that could work for UK Games developers accessing the games tax relief. Building on existing tried and tested models from film and television sectors, Anwen outlined their 7 stages of tax relief lending outlining the benefits of the structure including; understanding the key documents, due diligence and lenders and the practicalities.

War Child Presentation

Wayne Emanuel (War Child)

As a member of the War Child Games Committee, Alex Chapman also introduced the next presentation from Wayne Emanuel.

Wayne outlined the background of War Child and how they are working with the games sector. In 2016, War Child looked to video games and released Help: The Game on Steam. Wayne also talked about World of Tanks and This War of Mine and their other upcoming projects such as Help: The Game 2.

Creative England

Rob Crossley (Creative England)

Rob Crossley, the new Head of Games and Digital at Creative England provided the audience with background on his experience in the game sector. Rob also provided details on the number of projects Creative England had supported to date and how they support studios, provide investment, their networking events, grant programmes and GamesLab.

Head Gear

Daniel Negret (Head Gear)

Head Gear have part financed a number of film and television projects and are financing video games. Daniel Negret, Finance Associate at Head Gear outlined how Head Gear is supporting the games sector through funding and some of the games projects they have funded already.

Charles Cecil (Revolution), Rhidian Davis (BFI) and Tanya Laird (Digital Jam) discuss character representation.

Charles Cecil (Revolution), Rhidian Davis (BFI) and Tanya Laird (Digital Jam) discuss character representation.

Diverse representation in games characters

Charles Cecil (Revolution), Rhidian Davis (BFI), Tanya Laird (Digital Jam)

This year the BFI’s Blockbuster Season is Black Star, a film and TV programme celebrating the range, versatility and power of black actors. Drawing a parallel with player–characters in games, Charles Cecil of Revolution Software, Rhidian Davis, Curator, Public Programmes at BFI and Tanya Laird, CEO of Digital Jam presented an illustrated talk exploring the different uses of race, gender and sexual orientation in video game characters across three key areas – Aesthetic; Narrative and Gameplay.

UK Games Fund Presentation

Paul Durrant (UK Games Fund)

Paul Durrant outlined the success of the UK Games Fund to date, highlighted some of the funded projects and presented the latest funding round (closing 23 Nov). Paul discussed the qualities the UK Games Fund looks for in projects they receive and gave the audience an overview of the application process itself.

UK Games Fund want their funding to create jobs, promote diverse new teams, enhance skills and increase the amount of new games IPs in the UK.

Crossover between Games/Film/TV

Gina Jackson (The Imaginarium), Naysun Alae-Carew (Blazing Griffin), David Miller (ITV), Neil McPhillips (Channel 4)

As our moving image art forms change and evolve, the distinctions between them become less clear. Chaired by Gina Jackson, Head of Games at The Imaginarium, the panel discussed areas where games, film and TV are already collaborating; how entertainment companies are expanding to other media to reach new audiences and across media boundaries; and blurring these borders giving the potential for new experiences in the future.

Ukie's Dan Wood leads the final session on Brexit and how it might affect the games sector with Charles Cecil (Revolution), Anna Mansi (BFI) and Chris Taylor (Eaton Smith).

Ukie's Dan Wood leads the final session on Brexit and how it might affect the games sector with Charles Cecil (Revolution), Anna Mansi (BFI) and Chris Taylor (Eaton Smith).

Brexit Panel

Dan Wood (Ukie), Charles Cecil (Revolution), Anna Mansi (BFI), Chris Taylor (Eaton Smith)

Dan Wood led a discussion on how Brexit may affect the UK video games industry, looking at the challenges and possible opportunities that leaving the EU may present.

Drinks Reception and Game Exhibition

After a long day of content. There was a final opportunity to network and play games from local games developers – Fierce Kaju, Warrenaterz, Sigtrap, Coatsink, TNBF and Dubit.

Attendee playing Dubit's VR game.

Attendee playing Dubit's VR game.

(L-R) Neil McPhillips (Channel), Keith Martin-Smith (Hexwar) and Naysun Alae-Carew (Blazing Griffin) chat at the networking drinks.

(L-R) Neil McPhillips (Channel), Keith Martin-Smith (Hexwar) and Naysun Alae-Carew (Blazing Griffin) chat at the networking drinks.

Attendee plays Sigtrap's Sublevel Zero.

Attendee plays Sigtrap's Sublevel Zero.

 A developer from Coatsink shows their game Shu to attendee.

A developer from Coatsink shows their game Shu to attendee.

Jamie Sefton plays Fierce Kaiju's Viral Ex.

Jamie Sefton plays Fierce Kaiju's Viral Ex.

You can access the presentations from the day here:

 

A huge thank you to all our speakers and presenters and attendees for making this such a successful event.

Speakers and panellists in this year’s event include (with more to follow):

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