Why games culture matters
Videogames are one of the most popular forms of media in the world today. 62% of British adults play, rising to 92% for 16-24s (Ofcom 2021). That’s more than have a social media account.
People and especially young people from every background and age group are playing games in every community and every part of the country. 5 generations have grown up with videogames as an integral part of their media consumption and players now stretch well into their 70s.
Videogames are one of the few examples of true mass market culture that merges high art with cutting edge creative technologies.
Games are one of the most important bridges between technology and the arts. Although the UK games sector is at the cutting edge of a rapidly growing global industry, it faces significant challenges in access to finance and skills, and low awareness of just how deeply games are embedded in our culture. The BGI represents a unique opportunity to address these challenges.
Nicola Mendelsohn CBE, Facebook
A uniquely British medium
Britain is particularly good at making videogames, with a 40 year track record in creating games, including the best selling entertainment product of all time, Grand Theft Auto V, made in Edinburgh by Rockstar Games.
They’re made right across the country, not in a few postcodes in the capital. Their roots stretch back to the dawn of computing when Alan Turing wrote the first videogame programme (Chess) in 1949 before a computer existed to play it on. The first videogame console (a computer with a screen) was created in Cambridge in 1952, 9 years before the commercial games industry was born in America.
The UK’s sustained global presence in cultural forms as wide as film, TV, theatre and art reflects in no small part the support of publicly-backed industry institutions. The evidence shows that videogames now play an essential role in the UK’s cultural as well as economic wellbeing. It’s high time we matched this reality with a Lottery-backed British Games Institute.
Hasan Bakhshi, Nesta
41 million reasons videogames matter
41 million adults across the country play games. They matter to most adults and all children. They are part of our country’s cultural identity, influencing us and other art forms as well as profoundly reflecting our society and our values. They are made using every subject in the National Curriculum, especially the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics skills which young people need to thrive in the modern world.
They are software but also hardware, ephemera, merchandise and art. They are the products of our culture over nearly 50 years and so they need preserving and interpreting for future generations.
We are the only institution in the country that focuses exclusively on preserving our rich heritage in videogames.
In 2009 I suggested to the government that they recognise the tremendous potential harnessed within the games industry to contribute socially, educationally and economically to contemporary culture. Just as the BFI has for long championed film culture, it’s time for games to have a national agency to promote its own specific cultural contribution. That’s why I’m joining the call to government to help underwrite a British Games Institute.
David Puttnam CBE