UK: East Midlands Events

30 11 2007

A couple of important events relevant to the games industry are happening soon in the East Midlands:

EM Media Talent Network
These events are for writers, directors and producers/production companies and provide the chance to meet other talent in the region. We’re hoping to demonstrate the successes and strengths of the region as well as encourage collaboration for the glorious convergent future…

The first event is a Producer Forum event so it’s aimed at production companies and producers with an established track record in the industry.

Wednesday 5 December: Producer Forum – 6pm-9pm
Strength in Numbers – Tom Norton from the West Midlands Producer’s Forum will provide an overview of the forum, the benefits of being part of it and its success stories. Diarmid Scrimshaw from Warp Films will discuss the collaborations he’s been a part of and the success to be gained from this approach.

If you’re interested in attending please complete the attached registration form and send it back to asap.

Find out more about EM Media’s Talent Network…

The UK MEDIA Desk Roadshow

Taking place earlier in the day – this event is to promote the funding schemes of the European Union’s MEDIA 2007 Programme aimed at production companies, including Development funding, Access to Finance and TV Broadcasting.

Agnieszka Moody, Director of the UK MEDIA Desk will explain how the funding schemes work and how to submit a successful application. She will also provide information on a range of MEDIA-supported professional training courses, festivals and markets in Europe. After the presentation you will be able to book individual session with Agnieszka to go through your projects in more detail.

The event is aimed at independent producers working on film, television and interactive projects (games) aimed for the international market. Over the last six years UK filmmakers have received €14.5 million of development funding alone from the MEDIA Programme. Now, even more money is available, while the schemes have been simplified and the paperwork has been reduced.

Find out more…

If you’re interested in attending please let know asap.

NaturalMotion Join Games Academy

14 11 2007

NaturalMotionNaturalMotion are having their software taught at a German Technology School, as reported by GameDaily:

As part of this partnership, the German school will integrate endorphin into the course curriculum. Students at Games Academy will have support from NaturalMotion on certain projects and access to certain 3-D technology from the company.

“Thanks to NaturalMotion’s support, we have the ability to integrate this exciting technology into student curriculum immediately,” said Thomas Dlugaiczyk, principal and managing partner of Games Academy.

It’s an excellent idea and more technology firms should do it:

“Upon graduation, students will have a leg up on the competition because we strive to provide the latest professional-grade tools found in the digital entertainment industry.”

Australia: Tax Breaks Under Consideration

8 11 2007

At first, this story sounds like Australian game developers are getting a much better response with regard to tax breaks than their UK counterparts. However, the key words are obviously “if reelected”.

The Australian Government’s Minister of the Arts and Sport has told the Game Developers’ Association of Australia that his party will review the possibility of creating a tax break for games production in the country if re-elected.

Senator George Brandis met with the CEO of the GDAA, Greg Bondar, and a delegation of local developers including the CEO of IR Gurus Mike Fegan and the CEO of Team Bondi, Martin Cooper.

At the meeting he said that, if the ruling Coalition government was re-elected into office he would initiate a review into the GDAA’s call for a 40 per cent tax rebate on games development.

Montreal Games Industry: 177 Percent Growth in Two Years

8 11 2007

Recent figures from Invest Quebec show nearly 5000 people working in game development in the region. Ubisoft currently employ 1600 and are set to increase to 3000. From Develop:

The survey looked at 56 companies in the Quebec region and calculated that the area has seen 177 per cent growth from 2005 to 2007 – no surprise to spectators elsewhere, who know all too well that the the region’s tax credits have tempted publishers to ramp up their activity in the region.

Tanya Byron Interview

2 11 2007

Tanya Byron

MCV have interviewed Tanya Byron, and she comes across and a woman who is reasonable and working to understand the games industry. She steps very far away from anti-games rhetoric, even revealing that her entire family are gamers:

I’m a parent, I’ve got a nine-year-old and a 12-year old child and we all play video games in my house – my husband and I included. Playing video games with our kids is the same as reading them a bedtime story for us. It’s part of what we do as a family. It’s part of education, literacy and bonding. I’m also a realist. This is part of the landscape of society. It’s how kids spent their leisure time and this is important in terms of development.

Fundamentally, the people responsible for stopping children getting access to these materials and having these experiences are parents. But the truth is that many parents don’t even understand that an ‘18’ rating on Grand Theft Auto is the same as an ‘18’ on Texas Chainsaw Massacre. They see the word ‘game’ and have a totally different mentality.

A major problem is that parents understand this technology, in the main, less than the children who are using it. And it’s difficult for parents to say “I don’t really understand it” to their kids.

Adults need to play catch up with these new technologies. In the same way there comes a point when parents can say, “right, you can go to the shop and get some sweets on your own, because I trust you”, we’ve taught them how to cross the road, be safe and not talk to strangers. They understand and manage risk. When children enter a virtual landscape, the trust and skills needed are more like those for letting them outside the door than letting them watch TV.

The full interview is here, and worth reading.

EA Chertsey to Close Down

2 11 2007


Last week EA stated that there would be job losses across the company, and played them down as routine practice without giving any numbers.

Today it emerged that they’re closing down their Chertsey office, with the loss of 350 jobs across the company worldwide. Most staff will be relocated to the Guildford facility. EA are describe the cuts as minimal due to project completion.


2 11 2007

Via the eternally ace Wonderland comes news of Consolarium:

The Consolarium is the Scottish Centre for Games and Learning, established by Learning and Teaching Scotland to explore the world of computer games and how they can impact on teaching and learning in Scottish schools.

They have an excellent list of resources in place too.

No Tax Breaks for UK Games Industry… Yet

2 11 2007

Margaret Hodge

Margaret Hodge spoke at the ELSPA AGM during the London Games Festival last week, and ruled out any tax breaks for UK developers. There’s been quite a bit said about it of course, and the most comprehensive piece is this Develop one.

It’s not an out and out veto, and she makes some fair points:

“From my perspective, the one word that I hear the most from the industry is ‘Canada’, but as you all know the issues are bigger than one country. While Canada may be the current challenge to the UK industry, it could just as easily move to somewhere else in the next couple of months,” she said.

She then rebuffed the notion that the UK could adopt its own tax breaks, adding that the industry itself is split over the matter – ELSPA has reportedly signed up to a rejection of the approach to tax breaks which vets eligible projects based on their cultural relevance.

It remains a hot issue though:

And the Government’s now seemingly unsure (and, as some attending the seminar said later on, uninformed) stance on the development tax credits topic grated with the many development bosses in attendance, especially when she argued that in the short-term Quebec’s own generous tax environment will disappear. Famously, Quebecois authorities have guaranteed such credits, including highly-publicised deals cut with Ubisoft, for the coming years.

The stance didn’t convince those in attendance yet Hodge remained adamant it was a short-term threat, eventually telling fellow panelist David Braben, who admitted that two Canadian organisations had pitched the idea of him setting up a studio in the country, to “take your studio to Canada, then – because you’ll be back in a few years” during a heated panel discussion.

This MCV piece also quotes her offering some advice to the industry on PR:

“To deal with other negative MPs, I suggest you set up an all-party group. Find some MPs who understand your business. Get them on board and working for you within Westminster.

“And to ensure a sensible discussion about social responsibilities, I would also encourage you to get closer to the children’s charities.

“But as for criticism from the media, well don’t be so surprised. You’re a competitor of theirs aren’t you?”

It also links to full video of the AGM.

Overall the signals Hodge has given seemed mixed and have displeased a lot of developers, but as this article points out at the end:

A spokesperson contacted us to let us know that “Margaret Hodge hasn’t ruled out the idea of a tax break for the computer games industry in the U.K. She is looking at what else can be done to help to industry but hasn’t ruled out tax breaks.”

Overall, she was emphatically pointing out that putting tax breaks in place isn’t going to be easy. It seems the industry has a lot to do before making an kind of tax breaks a reality, and not least of all that will involve better organisation within the games industry in order to present a united public front.