InGAME International

Lead Research Organisation: University of Abertay Dundee
Department Name: Sch of Arts Media and Computer Games

Abstract

InGAME International is an international consortium of games industry stakeholders brought together from industry, agencies and universities to investigate the challenges to, and deliver solutions that support, international collaboration between the videogames sectors in the UK and China.

The videogames sector in China boasts the biggest market in the world and some of the largest and most profitable games companies. In 2018 620 million spent $37.9 billion across mobile, PC and console games. The UK is the 6th biggest market in the world and the creators of so,me of the most successful games titles. 37.3 million players spent $4.5 billion in 2018. Alongside this asymmetry in scale, each sector has strengths and weaknesses that contribute to inhibiting the growth and evolution of the videogames industry in both territories.

Research undertaken by BOP Consulting on behalf of the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the UK shows that the videogames sector in China is dominated by a small number of very large media companies. In total, 12 companies generate 90% of revenues from video games in China. Tencent and NetEase dominate the video games market with over 50% of the entire video game market and over 60% of the mobile game segment. The same research highlights access to funding is the main barrier to UK companies achieving the scale required to enter the Chinese market. As well as commercial barriers, cultural differences and production processes, business and regulatory environments and education and professional training are also cited as barriers to growth and international collaboration. The proposed project aims to pick up from the BOP report to build cross-sector expertise and a research team that is able to adapt quickly to new knowledge and understanding emerging from research findings. The project recognises the dynamic nature of the sector and of academic understanding and has designed a programme that is capable of respoding to emergent conditions.

InGAME International proposes to establish projects in two main areas. Researchers in the UK and China will work together to identify policy and regulatory barriers to cooperation and develop new modes of working with a view to creating innovative new products, services and business models. Researchers will work with industry professionals to understand regulation and policy; especially licensing and IP, together with market dynamics and commercial models, including in-game revenue streams. We will also explore organisational cross-nation interoperation, especially between very small and very large organisations, cultural and audience differences to identify the relationship between developed product and consumer-base in key games subsectors. Simultaneously, researchers will work with industry partners to will review a range of gaming and other game-technology enabled experiences and their aesthetics together the technologies that underpin both those experiences themselves and the production pipelines used to create them. We will also characterise the different models of game production in the UK and China, identifying key similarities and differences.

Building on this research base the project will undertake to test the research outcomes through the creation of a small number of demonstrator projects involving international co-production of innovative new products aimed at testing assumptions or exploring new opportunities. Alongside this, the project will apply InGAME UKs action research methodology to assess and verify innovation processes and practices across all aspects of policy, regulation, production and commercialisation in order to develop guidelines and advice, academic programmes and professional training to ensure that outcomes and impacts are resilient, learning and networks are sustained and new generations of games professionals are equiped to work with researchers to innovate new products for international markets.

Planned Impact

InGAME International will develop a transnational community of industrial and academic partners to provide a platform for UK-China partnership growth. We will foster this community through four interconnected mechanisms: Partnership Scoping Events - to stimulate new interactions between UK and China organisations; Partnership Support - will reduce barriers of regulatory, cultural and technical risk; Investor Forums - R&D led products and services can be showcased to potential investors in a supportive environment; and Development Activities - that will deepen links in the longer term by providing in-depth training to industry and academia in person and online.

Partnership Scoping Events: Fundamental to our engagement with industry is fostering new partnerships through structured Scoping Events undertaken on a monthly basis. UK/China briefings will present to each sector the opportunities and barriers, in terms of regulation, culture, audience etc., together with exemplars of partnerships so far. We will also provide backgrounds on the partners participating in the network event. We will seek collaborative themes from each Scoping Event, for example game platform (e.g. cloud), technology (e.g. AR), commercial (e.g. revenue model).

Partnership Support:We recognise that there is no single mode of support that will suffice for all types of partnerships and all types of products, services and technologies. We will support:
(i) Funded staff exchanges, with a particular focus on but not limited to UK SMEs working with games companies in China.
(ii) Deploying creative talent (industry, academics, students) and design methods (including game jams) we will mitigate the risk of ideation and concept development for new platforms, genres, audiences and business models, whilst simultaneously bringing benefits to students and promoting industry involvement in UK-China collaboration;
(iii) Support in navigating the complex regulatory, commercial and cultural landscape, including audience demographics and patterns of media consumption, of UK-China collaboration.

Investor Forums: We recognise that there will be partnerships where additional external investment is required to productise R&D activity. We will provide a supportive environment where promising products and services can be showcased to potential investors. We are currently working with development agencies in the UK (Scottish Development International/Department for International Trade)to support UK games company attendance at China Joy in Shanghai and Develop Conference in the UK.

Industry Development: During the funded period we will provide in-depth face-to-face training to industry, whilst also developing a suite of online learning materials to provide scalable support beyond the funded period. Abertay University will fork with Perfect World Education in Beijing to develop dual-language programmes.

Talent development: Academic exchange between UK and China academic partners in order to develop UK-China academic collaborations that offer to educate the next generation of talent and to develop academic staff in China and by doing so foster long-term sustainable links via academia into industry.

Pathway to Partnerships Online: We will embed all Pathway to Partnerships resources, including learning materials, scoping reviews, demonstrators, databases of prospective partners (as appropriate) and showcases of success, within an open-access dual language online repository.

Project impacts are designed to be sustainable and are built on established relationships. The project is committed to persisting beyond the funded period in order to continue to deliver value into all stakeholder institutions and organisations and to continue to generate new opportunities for international research and development collaboration within the academic partnership.

Publications

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