British trade body UKIE has provided a list of guidelines as to how the British Government should assess the cultural relevance of games when local developers and publishers apply for tax relief.
Tax relief schemes are expected to be implemented in the UK next year, but to qualify, companies will be required to pass a cultural test. This has raised concerns over whether the games industry is being held to the same standards as other British media, and whether there is sufficient consensus and expertise to judge the cultural impact of gaming.
To address these concerns, the UKIE met with a wide variety of companies and issued an online survey to gather opinions ahead of releasing an official recommendation; it also met will fellow trade body TIGA to ensure consensus.
“The cultural test is an important part of the system allowing tax credits to be put in place. Ukie’s response outlines how we can have a rigorous test, meeting the needs of the EU state aid process, but a fair one that accurately reflects how games are made in the UK today and who makes them," Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist said.
"We have also made recommendations that will help make sure that the test recognises all parts of the games industry, from the traditional console and PC markets to the mobile and social games that have emerged in recent years.”
A full list of the UKIE's recommendations can be found below.
- The cultural test should reflect that tax breaks need to be of real benefit to all parts of the games industry, from small independent studios and existing bigger studios to attracting inward investment from multi-national companies
- The games industry cultural test should be given an extra maximum point allocation (raising it from 30 points to 31 points), bringing it into line with the total number of points available in the UK film industry’s cultural test
- The test itself should accurately reflect the process of how games are made today in the UK, including recognising coding as an essential part of the creative and artistic skillset involved in the crafting of interactive entertainment
- Games will not always have a traditional narrative, describable setting, or characters of a recognisable species. Ukie therefore welcomes the government’s proposal to recognise fictional settings and species
- Four points should be allocated to games made in the English language (up from two), again bringing this in line with the UK’s film industry cultural test
- Ukie welcomes the emphasis and potential points being allocated for using UK service providers
- The test must recognise that, in smaller businesses, for example micro studios, one person will often do several key jobs and points should still be given for each of these roles
- Ukie calls for the team administrating the cultural test for video games to be recognised experts with significant experience and understanding of the games industry. If this resource sits under the BFI then it must be sufficiently resourced and the name of this cultural test body should reflect its wider remit