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Ukie’s 2021 end of year round-up: July-December



In July our Policy team covered the Online Media Literacy Strategy, which intends to improve media literacy amongst internet users in the UK, was published by the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport. Whilst there were few specific references to video game, the strategy did note the power of games in delivering media literacy, citing a case study of education through gaming with Go Viral!, a game developed by the University of Cambridge with media agency DROG and the Cabinet Office.

Ukie also submitted evidence to the DCMS Select Committee’s inquiry on influencer culture.  Acknowledging that it is not the adjacent cultural outputs that accompany video games, such as streaming and games video content, are as, if not more, resonant amongst consumers as the games themselves – and as such, transparent collaboration between games companies and influencers with proper guidance and support has shown to be mutually beneficial for games companies, influencers and audiences alike.

Meanwhile, Digital Schoolhouse and Ask About Games developed and published a series of lesson plans to teach children about safe, responsible and healthy video game play. The resources were distributed directly through the Digital Schoolhouse network, helping over 3,000 teachers provide advice on safe and sensible play to tens of thousands of pupils, as well as available for free download online for any teacher to access.


As part of Gamescom 2021 Ukie partnered with Kwalee, Loading Bar, MCV/DEVELOP and VGC News for the second ever Europlay competition to crown the best unreleased game in Europe.

The UK’s entry was decided through the Game of the Show  competition, with 15 games shortlisted and presented in a showcase before industry judges and an audience vote. Ahead of the showcase, participants were invited to DEV:PUB, a virtual networking event for publishers, investors and press to meet the 29 studios involved.

The winning game was Viewfinder by Robot Turtle, a mind bending puzzle game where you use photographs to transform the perspective of the world around you.

Viewfinder clips June 2021

In fact, Viewfinder went on to win the Europlay competition altogether. Out of 16 games from 16 countries across Europe the UK was crowned victorious, in the wake of over 10,000 public votes.


In September we hosted our AGM at Here East, Stratford, featuring talks from Dr Jo Twist OBE, outgoing chair Stuart Dinsey as well as a panel on the future of the industry from Kish Hirani, Founder of BAME in Games; Mark Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Methods at the University of Sheffield; Samantha Ebelthite, Commercial Markets Director at EA; Rose Buhain, Games Category Lead at Xbox; Tamsin O’Luanaigh, Chief People Officer at nDreams.

As part of the board re-elections, Tim Woodley of Hello Games was appointed the new Chair of the Ukie board, with Samantha Ebelthite appointed as Vice Chair. Five new members were also successfully elected to the board. Jo Cooke (Bossa Studios), James Dobrowski (Sharkmob), Robert Kinder (Payload Studios) and Jay Shin (Arrogant Pixel) were newly elected, with Thomas Hegarty (Roll7) winning another term.

The day after the AGM we held an online Member’s Day: an open Zoom call with talks provided by the member groups, providing an opportunity for insight and support to our members and give members the chance to shape Ukie projects.

We also launched the UK Games Industry Census 2022, the second ever, to once again authoritatively assess workforce diversity in the sector. Over 40 games businesses publicly backed the Census and supported its completion, agreeing to distribute it to their workforces through a uniquely assigned company link to help support Ukie’s efforts to create the most up to date and detailed picture of the sector’s profile ever undertaken.

The full list of companies that pledged to back the census were:

10:10 Games, Bossa, ChangingDay, Cooperative Innovations, Creative Assembly, Curve Digital, Electronic Arts, Futurlab, Gfinity, Hardlight Studios, Hello Games, Huey Games, Maze Theory, Move AI, nDreams, Outright Games, Primordial, PQube, PTW, Ripstone, Rocksteady, Roll7, Sharkmob, SEGA, Sold Out, Splash Damage, Square Enix, Wizards of the Coast and Ubisoft.

Digital Schoolhouse, Nintendo UK and Outright Games also launched the first ever national junior esports tournament, an immersive careers experience for pupils aged 8 to 11 years that brings industry careers to life in the classroom with the help of competitive games on Nintendo Switch.


October began with the news that Innovate UK will be working with Ukie to recruit assessors from the industry to help better inform their funding. Citing the UK’s status as a world leading games industry, Innovate announced they would recruit around 100 assessors, rolling them out to their programmes wherever there is a relevant technology, methodology or business model being used.

Ahead of World Mental Health Day, the first weekend in October also saw the launch of Play and Talk, an annual campaign to encourage players to make time to play their favourite game with a friend and have a chat about how they’re feeling.

The inaugural Green Games Summit also took place this October, the first ever coming together of the global games industry to discuss the climate challenge. With a roster of talks over two days, the summit focused on the importance of immediate action, the process of achieving net zero, the potential of games to shape culture and attitudes, and the ways in which the games industry can set an example for other tech sectors. You can watch all of these talks on our YouTube channel.

Develop:Brighton returned this October, with a packed roster of events, talks and networking opportunities in which Ukie featured prominently. Our Head of Communications and Campaigns kicked things off by presenting a fireside chat with Ukie board member Debbie Beswick MBE of Team17, whilst Jo Twist gave a hotly anticipated talk on the future of the games industry. Meanwhile, #RaiseTheGame hosted an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion roundtable with Sophie Clark of Jagex, as well as a Festival of Food Evening and a lunchtime Knowledge Drop Meet-Up with Women In Games.

The potential of games to be educational tools was also once again demonstrated with Assasin’s Creed Discovery Tour making it into the press. An interactive and historically accurate way to explore the 9th Century during attempts by Viking’s to settle in Britain, the game was covered by BBC News – and our very own Shahneila Saeed was interviewed for the excerpt!


We partnered with Sharkmob in November for the Ukie Student Game Jam, based on the theme of “collaboration” in mind. In a first ever, the jam saw teams paired up from the UK and EU, with students to work together across borders (virtually) to create their games. The winning game, Ogre Time, was inspired by the idea that the big should help the small, and that all kinds of people have different skills they can bring to the table. A two player platformer puzzle, played on a single keyboard, both players must use each character’s unique skills to escape from a dungeon.

The PlayUK: Russia programme also launched this month – a British-Russian initiative aimed at the exchange of knowledge and experience between the professional community in the field of video games. Brought to you by The British Council, Scream School and Ukie, the programme kicked off with a series of five inspirational talks from video games industry leaders Peter Molyneux OBE of 22Cans, Tim Woodley of Hello Games, Fiona Sperry of Three Fields Entertainment, Ian Livingstone CBE of Sumo Group, and Dr David Reeves of Keywords. You can watch all of these talks on our YouTube channel.


December kicked off with news that the Mobo Game Jam would return again in 2022. A partnership between Digital Schoolhouse, Edu360, Kucheza Gaming, Nintendo Switch, Ukie Edu and Union Bank, the jam this time asks the question: How will you harness the power of games to promote Clean Air?

We also teamed up with Jagex to host a Christmas quiz to raise money for GamesAid, Safe In Our World and SpecialEffect. Prizes included access to all of Curve Games titles on Steam, 4x Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and a dolphin (adoption pack)!

Finally, the year was rounded off with the release of the BFI’s Screen Business report, which reviewed the number of jobs supported by the UK games industry and its overall economic contribution over a period of three years to find that it reached record heights in 2019.

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