Animex 2020 is over this year, but left a lot of good results, like this Industry Day Panel Discussion, which highlights we bring here:
“Animex 2020: Games industry thriving despite Covid-19, says Ukie leader
Productivity in the UK games industry is “almost back to normal”, according to the leader of Ukie who was chairing an Industry Day panel discussion as part of Animex 2020.
Speaking at the 30th September virtual event, Covid and creativity: the future of working models in the games and animation industry, which brought together animation, games and VFX businesses as well as educationalists, the Tees Valley Combined Authority, Middlesbrough Council and Department for International Trade, Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist took the opportunity to highlight the strong performance of games companies in the pandemic.
“The games industry – which Ukie is representative of – is a $140 billion global industry, it is worth £2.8 billion to the UK economy and supports 47,000 jobs up and down the country, and it is an industry that is really geographically dispersed. 55% of games development jobs are located outside of London and the South-East, with the Teesside area being one of the biggest contributors to productivity and GVA,” she said.
“We all know how much recent events have thrown a huge spotlight on our working practices, testing our agility and also our capabilities as businesses, as well as humans, in the digital creative sector. But a report that we produced in July showed that unlike many other creative sectors the games industry was operating at 80-90% productivity during the worst of the pandemic. The games industry has also had comparatively very little need to use the Covid-specific support from government. It has continued to hire and revenues have actually gone up if you have got games already out there.”
However, Dr Twist explained that the question is now “how we keep up productivity – and indeed motivation – in the long-term”. She explained: “We do have concerns about the IP pipeline, potential delays to deals, access to finance, ongoing productivity, how we on-board new recruits and how we continue to recruit inclusively. What came out of the Animex event is that senior leaders do not necessarily have all the answers, but we are identifying that productivity is almost back to normal. It was a fascinating discussion, and there are clearly an excellent array of companies, committed education institutions like Teesside University, and committed government officials in this area.”
The panel discussion covered the impact of Covid-19 on working practices – home and flexible working – including human (supporting mental health and those with caring responsibilities), technology and infrastructure implications; business issues: access to finance, access to industry events and networking opportunities; and skills/learnings from the pandemic that could be applied to other sectors e.g. virtual production methodology, as well as challenges around the ‘digital divide’, internships and placements.
Siobhan Fenton, Associate Dean (Enterprise and Business Engagement) in the University’s School of Computing, Engineering and Design Technologies, said: “It was encouraging to hear so many positive stories of businesses growing and taking on more staff and office space during the pandemic, including right here in Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley. At Teesside University we work in partnership regionally, nationally and internationally with schools, businesses and others to support the talent pipeline into some of the most exciting industries around. This year’s virtual Animex has been extremely successful, allowing us to reach new audiences, so a huge thank you to everyone involved.”
Animex, the international festival of animation, VFX and games organised by Teesside University, ran from 21st September-2nd October. As well as Dr Jo Twist, Covid and creativity: the future of working models in the games and animation industry also featured:
· Sam Harrison, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Animmersion UK
· David Bowman, Studio Development Director, Creative Assembly
· Mark South, Chief Operating Officer, Double Eleven
· Sue Lyster, Executive in Charge, Industrial Light and Magic London
· Bob Makin, CEO, SockMonkey
· Olly Bennett, CEO, Cardboard Sword, and module tutor at Teesside University
· Penny Holton, Senior Lecturer in Animation, Teesside University
· Ellie Land, Animation Director, Educator and Researcher
· Ben Houchen, Tees Valley Mayor
· Daniel Watson, Digital Middlesbrough Manager, Middlesbrough Council
· Nigel Jones, Sector Specialist: Technology and Creative, Department for International Trade
Nearly 1,550 delegates from across the UK and worldwide (including USA, China, India, Norway and Canada) registered for this year’s Animex Talks and Industry Day combined. Animex will return in May 2021.”