Westminster Games Week is a series of interactive events bringing together the world-leading UK video games industry and policymakers across three core days of the 6th, 7th, and 8th of September 2022.
The event, which is run by the industry’s trade body Ukie in partnership with Xbox, is also supported by Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Jagex. Each day will include a series of different activities touching the key issues of our sector today: Levelling Up, Fun & Responsible Play, and Skills of the Future.
These activities include catered roundtable discussions, as well as an exciting lunchtime showcase in Portcullis House to demonstrate games, charities and responsible play initiatives from across the sector directly to parliamentarians, researchers, and civil servants.
We're going to be updating this post throughout the week with the latest from the event. But keep an eye on our Twitter for up to date posts from #WestminsterGamesWeek.
Day 1, Tuesday 6th September - Levelling Up the UK Games Industry
The first roundtable of Westminster Games Week was the Levelling Up Roundtable, hosted by Jonathan Gullis MP for Stoke-on-Trent North and attended by leading industry figures and a number of MP and Lords from across the political spectrum.
The conversation centred around what could be done to stimulate the growth of the sector across the country, building upon the thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses based in dozens of games clusters across the country already.
While much of the discussion emphasised the strengths of the sector today – such as its £5.26bn gross value add (GVA) to the economy, the average productivity of a games job sitting at £121,000 and the £7.7bn invested in the UK since 2017 – the roundtable also made it clear there was no room for complacency when it comes to maintaining industry growth during challenging economic times.
The group considered a number of ways to continue the industry’s local growth trajectory. They spoke extensively about the talent pipeline, including expanding routes into industry from both new entrants and individuals in the wider economy through schemes like the now ended Kickstart, hiring sideways and strengthening the link between industry need and education.
They considered ways to strengthen grassroots in the industry to build support for clusters, especially by connecting local games business to their local communities to help them understand the breadth of careers open to individuals looking to get into games. And they discussed how the expansion of financing options such as the UK Games Fund and Video Game Tax Relief can support growing businesses.
Ultimately, they agreed that the UK games industry already has a positive story as a globally successful industry delivering local growth across the UK. The hope is that further work between Government, education, industry and local authorities could drive this further in the future for the benefit of the wider economy.
The day then concluded with a dinner between industry leaders and Lord Gilbert of Panteg, with discussion focusing on international trade and investment.
Day 2, Wednesday 8th September - Fostering fun and responsible play
Day 2, the busiest day of Westminster Games Week, opened with a roundtable sponsored by Ubisoft and Jagex dedicated to the topic of fun and responsible play.
Chaired by Baroness Nicky Morgan, formerly a Secretary of State for DCMS, and attended by a further four MPs and peers across the political spectrum, the discussion took a deeper look at what the industry does - and can do - to make sure players, parents and carers have confidence that games are as safe as they are fun.
The group discussed developments in tools and techniques used by the industry to keep players safe. This included family settings and parental controls on devices, as well as a wider range of technology used behind the scenes to screen content, chat and other online mechanics to protect players.
There was also a discussion about the role that community management and human moderation plays in helping support players. As well as exploring the specific role that community managers and customer support representatives fulfil, the conversation also turned to how their work is often effectively done in partnership with law enforcement.
Finally, the group discussed how the industry can further its work promoting positive play habits. They talked about the role of industry responsibility campaigns such as Get Smart About PLAY in helping increase uptake of effective family settings and controls, as well as the role education campaigns can play in helping players, parents and carers manage screen time, spend and access to age appropriate content - reaching people in the home but also in schools.
The breakfast preceded our industry showcase, which took place in the Attlee Suite in Porcullis House.
Our exhibitors Activision Blizzard King, BAFTA, Electronic Arts, Payload Studios, Rezzil, Ubisoft, ustwo games and Xbox showcased the breadth of both video games and the industry itself to hundreds of people from the parliamentary estate including nearly 20 Members of Parliament.
Highlights of the show floor included Rezzil's VR football shooting demo, EA and Codemaster's Formula One racing seat experience and a hands on with a flight controller driven version of Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Finally, we rounded off the second day with the Westminster Games Week Industry Reception at One Birdcage Walk.
Hundreds of guests from both the games industry and the world of politics came together to meet, greet, network and listen to great speeches from Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, Tim Woodley, Head of Publishing at Hello Games and Chair of Ukie, Dave McCarthy, Head of Xbox Operations for Microsoft, and Seema Malhotra MP.
Day 3, Thursday 8th September - Skills of the Future
The final day of Westminster Games Week concluded with a roundtable about the skills of the future hosted by Alex Sobel MP.
The discussion focused on ways to expand routes for entry into the industry for people from across the country. This included considering the best way to use apprenticeships effectively with the industry, explore a re-run of the successful Kickstart scheme and ensure the sector effectively reaches a truly diverse cross section of people.
It also explored the ways that games themselves can be used as a tool to educate. The group considered the ways that games are, and can, be used within the curriculum as well as how they can be used to inspire children into great careers within the industry (and elsewhere).
There was also a conversation about how important inspiring the next generation is, especially in under-represented communities. The group discussed the value of mentorship, of ambassador schemes and the importance of making the games industry feel like an achievable, and valuable, career for all.
The session concluded with agreement about the importance of demonstrating the cultural, social and economic impact of the UK games industry generally to make it clearer that the skills needed to support the sector can have value across society.
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