Dr Jo Twist OBE
CEO of Ukie
There is much to admire about the UK’s games industry. The figures can speak for themselves: a consumer market valued at £5.1bn; a gross value add to the economy of £2.8bn; 47,000 jobs supported directly or indirectly by over 2,200 companies spread up and down the country.
But the real strength of our industry can’t and should not be measured in numbers alone. Instead, we need to look at the range of beautiful, meaningful, joyful interactive entertainment that developers up and down the country have created for all kinds of players, of all ages.
Yes, we’re capable of making grand epics like Red Dead Redemption 2 that swallow players up in its immaculately conceived open world. Equally, we’re capable of supporting perfectly crafted global successes such as Monument Valley and commuter hits such as Farm Heroes Saga.
The UK’s strengths
While other countries may boast that they have particular strengths, the UK industry supports a breadth of talented people with a long history – and therefore experience – that helps us compete culturally as well as economically.
Why is that the case though? While other creative sectors struggle to thrive outside of London, the UK games industry has 20 cities playing host to more than 20 companies. This means we’re as capable of tapping into the legacy of Dundee’s Institute of Computing (now Abertay University) as we are into the rich seam of companies emerging from Leamington’s ‘Silicon spa’.
The UK also has the right and friendly business environment for games enterprises of all sizes to thrive. Whether it’s businesses driving £230m of support into their companies through Video Game Tax Relief or thriving games clusters offering grassroots support, our business environment helps creative risk takers to thrive.
Diversity of the industry
But more than anything else, the diverse and open nature of our industry helps us to succeed. The interactive nature of games makes them the perfect place through which to offer engaging, personal and inclusive, always adaptive experiences – simply because other media can’t be as empathetic. And it is our diversity of experience, outlook, perspectives on the world, that drive innovation and creativity.
We need more people coming in to the games sector
For those experiences to resonate, we must do what we can to get more voices shaping the games that are enjoyed across the world. Whether we’re highlighting uncompromising portrayals of living with psychosis in Ninja Theory’s BAFTA winning Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice or celebrating Special Effect’s life-changing adaptive controller, empowering more people to be included in the development and playing of games.
In the coming months, Ukie will be doing much more to support this goal. But in the meantime, we encourage you to think about what you can do for industry diversity.
We can’t make our community inclusive by ourselves. But by working together to create a positive, supportive and inclusive environment, we can build the ground on which the next wave of delightfully creative British games will be supported.