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Industry News

Northern Ireland Screen’s Adding Value Report

Northern Ireland Screen has published the second edition of its Adding Value Report, a celebration of the spectacular range of opportunities, jobs and experiences pursued within and supported by the screen industry in Northern Ireland.

Covering the period from September 2013 to June 2016 the report offers an insight into what growing the screen industry in Northern Ireland really means for the broad range of individuals involved.

Whilst covering multiple screen industries, the report covers Gaming and mobile, which has stepped up in Northern Ireland since the previous report with a growing cluster of local companies now involved in digital and interactive content. Among the recent achievements, Northern Ireland Screen launched Greenshoots NI in partnership with Microsoft, a funding and technical support initiative for early stage start up game studios. We’ve seen Northern Ireland becoming home to the team Of Kings of Men, and the establishing of many new companies province wide.

The report also gives a glimpse into the future of the screen industries as it highlights some of the many talented trainees taking their first step, be it on the Aim High development programme or through the DEL Animation and Gaming Development Academies. These trainee development schemes aim to equip people with the skills and experience required to take up new opportunities, as well as address the needs of our local screen industries.

 

 

Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, said; “We cannot believe it has been almost three years since our last Adding Value Report in 2013. So much has happened in that time which Northern Ireland can be proud of, it has been a great period for the screen industries here, with lots more exciting projects in the pipeline.

“We hope readers will enjoy learning about the companies and individuals that work in the screen industries here and feel the same pride that we do at what they have achieved not just locally but nationally and internationally.

“These are exciting times and we are very conscious that this is the result of tremendous support given to the screen sector here by Invest Northern Ireland, the Department for the Economy, the Department for Communities, the British Film Institute and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. ”

To view the Adding Value Report please click here.

If you would like a printed copy of the Adding Value Report please email info@northernirelandscreen.co.uk

Categories
Education News

Games R&D Tax Relief event; in review

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Putting compelling storylines, picturesque artwork and a captivating soundtrack to one side, a modern game is a masterpiece of software development. It is just as likely to contain as much serious research and development as that undertaken in a laboratory.

The video games and interactive entertainment industry has a clear strong link to high-tech research and development (R&D). Playing an integral part in the development of original intellectual property, R&D has helped the UK become recognised globally as a leading source of original computer games concepts and design.  

With access to finance being a priority for the industry, HMRC’s R&D Tax Relief scheme actively encourages developers to engage in technological innovation that can bring huge benefits to the sector.

In order to qualify for relief, HMRC wants to see R&D being used to create an improvement in a field of science or technology. Even if the R&D in which a company has invested does not have the outcome hoped for, it may even still be able to qualify for R&D tax relief.

 From Left to right; David Baxter from Boom Clap Games, Carley Morrow from App Attic and Mark Westwood from Jumpstart
From Left to right; David Baxter from Boom Clap Games, Carley Morrow from App Attic and Mark Westwood from Jumpstart

With this in mind, Games NI held a discussion with R&D tax experts Jumpstart at the Northern Ireland Screen offices to chat about what the R&D Tax Relief scheme actually means for gaming companies here. R&D tax expert Jumpstart was on hand to explain that game development and interactive entertainment companies should take full advantage of the potential financial gains.

“From designers to producers, it was great to chat to a real mixture of gaming companies. You see, I’m not an accountant; I’m a software developer,” says Mark Westwood, a Technical Analyst at Jumpstart, who has over 30 years’ experience in software development.

“The fact that everyone knows about the Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) is great to hear – I was very impressed by the knowledge the NI gaming sector has of it,” he continued. Mark also revealed that opportunities exist to claim both VGTR and R&D tax relief, but advised that care is required as HMRC are very particular about what is eligible.

Continuing, Mark says: “However, I found that knowledge on the R&D Tax Relief scheme was a bit sketchier. We have found that some people have looked into the scheme, but it really is under-utilised across Northern Ireland. Which is a shame really, as it’s not often HMRC actually offers you ‘money on the table’!”

 Mark Westwood from Jumpstart
Mark Westwood from Jumpstart

Kitty Crawford, Deputy Chair of Games NI, thought the event was highly informative for both herself and other companies in attendance: “It was superb to get a good overall grounding on the R&D Tax Relief scheme, as well as the opportunity to ask specific, technical questions which was very useful. Even though some companies may not be in a position to claim relief now, it is of huge benefit to know about it for the future.”

If there was one thing that the gaming sector in NI should know about the R&D Tax Relief scheme, Ian Wolfendale, Jumpstart’s Client Engagement Manager, said: “Take a look into it. Don’t ignore it and think it’s not for you, as you could be pleasantly surprised.

“After all, analysis of HMRC’s latest figures shows that NI companies – across all sectors – account for just 2.7% of total claims and a mere 1.6% of the total tax benefits claimed from across the UK. This tells me that the R&D tax relief scheme is massively underutilised here.”

If you would like to chat about what opportunities there may be for your organisation, drop Ian a line at ian.wolfendale@jumpstartuk.com, or find out more at their website.

 

 Guest post by Gavin Williamson, lead organiser of the event, from Lanyon Communications
Guest post by Gavin Williamson, lead organiser of the event, from Lanyon Communications

 

 

Categories
Developer News Industry News

Northern Ireland talent among TIGA Awards nominations

Northern Ireland talent is among the nominations for the 2016 TIGA Awards which will take place on the 10th November at the Christ Church Spitalfield in London.

Three games developed in Northern Ireland have been nominated in three separate categories. Blackstaff Games’ Safari Slides is nominated in the Puzzle Game Category, Iglu Media’s E1027 is nominated in the Educational Game category and Outsider Games’ Wailing Heights is nominated in the Visual Design category. Italic Pig’s Kevin Beimers is also part of the team behind The Bunker which is nominated in two categories.

Safari Slides is a mobile puzzle game where players follow the adventures of the Safari families as they cruise their way around the world hitting every water park as they go! At each park they attend it’s your job to get them from the top of the park to the bottom, unscrambling the slides as you go.

In E1027 players explore the home of renowned architect Eileen Gray, E1027, regarded as a 20th century architectural masterpiece. Players are tasked with restoring the building to its old glory and uncovering the secrets within it.

Wailing Heights is a coffin-rocking, body-hopping, musical adventure PC game, set in a village which is home to vegan werewolves, hipster vampires and soulful zombies. Play as music band manger Frances Finklestein who arrives in Wailing Heights and is charged with the crime of being alive.

Kevin Beimers is a Northern Ireland based video game developer who was a writer on The Bunker. Kevin is currently working on his own project Mona Lisa, a stealth adventure game were players play as a Renaissance robot who is also the 16th century’s greatest art thief.

For the full list of nominees visit the TIGA website. 

Categories
Developer News Industry News

Tranzfuser teams announced

Tranzfuser™, the innovative new talent development programme from UK Games Talent and Finance CIC (UKGTF) and funded by the UK government, has announced the winning teams taking part in this year’s competition across the UK Regional Hub network.

This is the first time a UK-wide talent programme has been linked directly to a prototype fund allowing new teams to benefit from grants and interaction with a host of other early stage games development companies.

Successful applicants will develop their ideas into working prototypes over the summer in a competition that culminates in a nationally recognized showcase event.

Northern Ireland Screen is the Regional Hub for NI and its successful teams are Pandara’s Box and Red Spear.

Successful applicants have been awarded a £5,000 budget paid in stages to replicate the real world for them to allocate to allowable costs throughout the 10-week long competition. At the showcase event later this year, selected teams will be invited to pitch for follow-on funding of up to £25k from the UK Games Fund (also operated by UKGTF) to commercialise their game and launch a company.

Other teams chosen can be found on UK Games Funds website. Find out more about information about Tranzfuser at www.tranzfuser.com

Categories
Developer News

DogBiscuit nomineed for the Develop Awards 2016

Northern Ireland created family game DogBiscuit has been nominated in the New Games IP (Mobile) category, at the Develop Awards in Brighton.

DogBiscuit was created by Northern Ireland based game developer Blackstaff Games who received funding from the Northern Ireland Screen Fund supported by Invest NI.

The game sees players follow DogBiscuit, with his variety of colouring pens packed, on his journey through many exciting worlds. But something is missing from all of them: colour! Whether it’s fruit trees, sandcastles or giant planets – how the environment ends up looking is completely in the player’s hands. There are over 20 options to design the worlds individually and to draw beautiful things for DogBiscuit and his crayon friends.

In total, there are 108 companies in the running for awards, encompassing not only developers, but also tools providers, services firms, outsourcers and specialists in VFX, audio, QA and recruitment. DogBiscuit is among 36 games nominated in the Creativity section of the awards. 

The winners will be announced at the Brighton Hilton Metropole on Wednesday, July 13th during Develop: Brighton 2016.

For a full list of nominees visit the Develop Awards 2016 Website. 

Categories
Developer News

Blackstaff Games release DogBiscuit on iOS

Follow DogBiscuit on his first adventure through the land of Crayons!

Following the adventures of the cute and friendly protagonist, DogBiscuit: a drawing adventure is a creative drawing exploration game aimed at a younger audience.

As the player you are the creator of the world in which DogBiscuit, RichTea and ChocolateNibble have their adventures. Throughout their outings to picnics at the beach, or meeting aliens in space, they make friends with a tribe of crayons, unlocking new colours and tools to change the environment and progress through in the game.

DogBiscuit is a great game for the entire family! The user interface is intuitive and objects can be drawn very simply or in greater detail, depending on the player’s age. Unobtrusive music and lovingly designed animations round off the experience and turn it into a pleasant trip into the world of drawing.

You can download DogBiscuit now from the App Store, and on the Google Play Store.

DogBiscuit has been developed by Blackstaff Games with funding from Northern Ireland Screen supported by Invest NI and published by Tivola Publishing.

Categories
Developer News

Billy Goat Entertainment nominated for two awards

Northern Ireland created adventure game Her Majesty’s SPIFFING (HM SPIFFING) has received two nominations, for Best Story and People’s Choice award, at the Games Connection Development Awards in Paris.

HM SPIFFING was created by Northern Ireland based game developer Billy Goat Entertainment who received funding from the Northern Ireland Screen Fund supported by Invest NI.

HM SPIFFING is a jovial, quintessentially British adventure that sees you assume the role of distinguished veteran and gentleman Captain Frank Lee English, as part of the Special Planetary Investigative Force For Inhabiting New Galaxies (SPIFFING), as you venture through the cosmos to claim a new, Galactic British Empire. Along the way you’ll stumble upon other individuals with their own intergalactic aspirations. Some hostile, some friendly, some despairingly indifferent.

The Best Story category is decided by a panel of industry professionals, however, the People’s Choice awards allows the public to decide who should win the award. People can vote for the game they like the most on the Games Connection Facebook page by liking the post linked to the game they want to win. YOU can vote for HM SPIFFING hereVoting deadline is October 28th 11.00am.