Call for gaming industry to back National Videogame Arcade

Child at a massive screen Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The National Videogame Arcade opened in March 2015

The gaming industry needs to get behind a centre dedicated to videogames or risk losing it forever, Games Workshop founder Ian Livingstone has said.

Mr Livingstone, along with other developers, has helped set up The National Videogame Foundation in support of Nottingham's National Videogame Arcade (NVA).

He said it should be to gaming what the National Gallery is to art.

The NVA was close to folding just one year after it opened.

Mr Livingstone, who helped launch the Lara Croft franchise, said it was his and the gaming industry's "duty" to support the NVA - the only institute of its kind in the UK.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The centre has a number of interactive exhibits

He said it was only when it nearly closed that its profile was raised.

"There were people [in the industry] who didn't know about it," he said.

"They asked 'what is it?', 'how can we help?'"

Visitor feedback was positive, scoring an average of 4.5 out of 5 on Tripadvisor, but for a number of reasons, including funding delays, the business ran out of money.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Gaming pioneer Ian Livingstone received a CBE in 2013

The NVA's co-director, Iain Simons, said the arcade's staff took "deferred payment" to keep the doors open.

He also appealed to videogame developers for help with investment, with Mr Livingstone one of the people who answered the call.

Analysis: Neil Heath, BBC News Online

It was not surprising that Ian Livingstone, the co-founder of games company Games Workshop, stepped in to help the NVA.

He has been a huge supporter and says the National Videogame Arcade should be to gaming what the National Gallery is to fine art.

He was at its launch in March 2015 and spoke of how pervasive gaming was - everywhere you go people of all ages are playing games on smartphones, on consoles.

Mr Livingstone also likes to remind people how much the games industry is worth, a cool $100bn.

But he said gaming was much more than entertainment, it is a "genuine art form" and should be recognised as such.

He said the NVA should not just be a museum but explore the "cultural impact" of videogames.

Image caption A collection of vintage arcade machines from the past 30 years are scattered throughout the centre
Image caption Ian Livingstone CBE (left) has helped keep the National Videogame Arcade open

The National Videogame Foundation will concentrate mainly on education.

Mr Livingstone said it was a "call to action" and a "vital moment for videogames' cultural confidence".

The foundation will deliver the GameCity Festival, held every October, and operate the arcade.

Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA, which represents the UK's games industry, said the NVA was a "great project" and the largest videogame developers could have a "bigger role to play" there.

However, he said smaller companies were "up against it" and could not always give up time and resources.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The National Videogame Foundation will still operate the arcade

National Videogame Arcade timeline

  • 2006 - GameCity Festival is founded in Nottingham
  • 2008 - The festival seizes the Guinness World Record for the world's largest gathering of zombies
  • 2011 - The GameCityPrize launches, described as "The Turner Prize of videogames"
  • 2014 - Announcement of the UK's first cultural centre for videogames
  • 2015 - The National Videogame Arcade opens
  • 2016 - Nearly closes due to financial difficulties. The National Videogame Foundation is launched

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