How British Is British? The Rules For UK Tax Relief

By John Walker on December 12th, 2012 at 6:00 pm.

With last week’s Autumn statement giving UK games developers a long-fought-for tax break, details are now available about who will be eligible. This test is in response to European laws that are necessary for such breaks to be put in place, and at first appears to require that the games and the teams in question have some elusive notion of Britishness. Um… you like curry with chips? But when you see what the words actually say, it seems it’s not really a test for Britishness at all.

So the way it works, as divulged by Develop, is a project must score 16 points in the test criteria. And of course they’re clear and simple… No, they’re a muddle. These are those criteria – get out your score sheet:

(1) A video game may be certified as a British video game under section 1217CB(1) of the Act only if it passes the following cultural test.

(2) A video game passes the cultural test if it is awarded at least 16 points in total under paragraphs (3) to (6).

(3) Up to 16 points shall be awarded in respect of the content of the video game as follows—

(a) Up to 4 points depending on the percentage of the video game that is set in the following locations
(i) 4 points if at least 75% is set in the United Kingdom or another EEA state;
(ii) 3 points if at least 66% is set in the United Kingdom or another EEA state or set in an undetermined location;
(iii) 2 points if at least 50% is set in the United Kingdom or another EEA state or set in an undetermined location;
(iv) 1 point if at least 25% is set in the United Kingdom or another EEA state or set in an undetermined location;

(b) Up to 4 points depending on the number of the characters depicted in the video game with the following characteristics
(i) if there are more than three characters depicted in the video game, 4 points if two or three of the three lead characters are from the United Kingdom or another EEA state or from an undetermined location or, if only one of the three lead characters is from the United Kingdom or another EEA state or from an undetermined location, 2 points if that character is the first or second lead, 1 point if that character is the third lead;
(ii) if there are only three characters depicted in the video game, 4 points if two or three of them are from the United Kingdom or another EEA state or from an undetermined location or, if only one of them is from the United Kingdom or another EEA state or from an undetermined location, 2 points if that character is the first or second lead, 1 point if that character is the third lead;
(iii) if there are only two characters depicted in the video game, 4 points if both of them are from the United Kingdom or another EEA state or from an undetermined location, 2 points if one of them is;
(iv) if there is only one character depicted in the video game, 4 points if that character is from the United Kingdom or another EEA state or from an undetermined location;

(c) 4 points if the video game depicts a British story or a story which relates to an EEA state;

(d) up to 4 points depending on the percentage of the original dialogue that is recorded in the English language or in a recognised regional or minority language as follows
(i) 4 points for at least 75%; (ii) 3 points for at least 66%; (iii) 2 points for at least 50%;
(iv) 1 point for at least 25%.

(4) Up to 4 points may be awarded in respect of the contribution of the video game to the promotion, development and enhancement of British culture.

(5) Up to 3 points shall be awarded in respect of work carried out in the making of the video game as follows

(a) 2 points if at least 50% of the work carried out on any of the following is carried out in the United Kingdom
(i) conceptual development; (ii) layout and storyboarding;
(iii) programming;
(iv) visual design;

(b) 1 point if at least 50% of the work carried out on any of the following is carried out in the United Kingdom
(i) performing and recording the music score created for the video game;
(ii) voice recording;
(iii) audio production;
(iv) picture production.

(6) Up to 8 points shall be awarded in respect of the personnel involved in the making of the video game as follows

(a) 1 point if the project leader (or, if there is more than one, the main project leader) is a qualifying person;
(b) 1 point if at least one of the scriptwriters (or, if there are more than three, one of the three lead scriptwriters) is a qualifying person;
(c) 1 point if the composer (or, if there is more than one, the lead composer) is a qualifying person;
(d) 1 point if the artist (or, if there is more than one, the lead artist) is a qualifying person;
(e) 1 point if the programmer (or, if there is more than one, the lead programmer) is a qualifying person;
(f) 1 point if the designer (or, if there is more than one, the lead designer) is a qualifying person;
(g) 1 point if at least one of the heads of department is a qualifying person;
(h) 1 point if at least 50% of the development team are qualifying persons.

To clarify, an “EEA state” is anywhere that falls into the European Economic Area. So really, despite the daft claims that this is a test for Britishness, your game could be entirely set in the south of Romania or the snowy mountains of Norway, and be considered “British” enough to qualify. Or indeed if it were set in anonymous space. Or on the bottom of my shoe. Or in Fairy Happy Land.

And of course this can be gamed to mean you need not actually employ anyone from Britain or Europe to qualify, say if you set 75% of your game in Europe, have more than four EU characters, tell a story based on a European country, and have it in English. So, well, a World War 2 shooter then.

I’m not entirely sure what a “qualifying person” is, but I’m guessing an EEA resident. So really, you could have a game made by no one with British citizenship, not featuring any British characters, not set in Britain, and still qualify for this Britishness test. If anything, it seems to be a “Not American Nor Japanese Test”.

Very strange business, but at least it doesn’t mean some ghastly flag-waving nonsense, and games required to be set in Hove, in order to qualify.

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112 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    I scored 12 peggles. Do I win the game?

    • Dr I am a Doctor says:

      Sir I am so saddened to say
      you were made in croatia
      i wish i could do something to ease the pain

  2. Cooper says:

    So.

    Only remakes of Floor 13 need apply?

  3. Premium User Badge

    Museli says:

    How many points would Sir, You Are Being Hunted score? Does it get extra points for generating new swaths of English countryside?

    • jonfitt says:

      OOh yes, please ask Jim to score Sir.
      I’m not sure that “inspired by the aesthetic of the British countryside” counts as being set there though?
      The undermined location and origin appears to just open it up to anywhere and anyone though.

      • Phantoon says:

        I remember the robots drinking tea. I don’t know if I imagined this, but if not, you can’t really get more British than that. Apocalypse and tea.

      • Tams80 says:

        I’m pretty sure it would score 4 on paragraph 4. With I assume all the work being done in the UK and I imagine it having some dialogue almost undoubtedly in English, then it would surpass 16 points.

      • Yglorba says:

        I think the idea behind the “undetermined” bit is that they want to support British game developers making eg. casual puzzle games with no clear location, but they don’t want to support someone making eg. a game about Russian history unless it’s extremely British in other ways.

        One thing that’s not clear to me: Are fantasy worlds undetermined locations? I would assume not, but it’s a bit odd. Maybe the idea is just that if a viewer could assume it’s in Britain then it qualifies.

        We should score Dishonored and see how well a game set in Fantasy Britain does.

        On a related note, Henry Hatsworth would score eleventy billion and get so many tax breaks that the British government would have to pay them.

  4. sinister agent says:

    What if your game is set inside the head of a British Prime Minister while he’s on holiday in Taiwan? And the military there invent a teleportation device and use it to invade Gibraltar?

    Christ, some people just LIVE for pointless bureaucracy, don’t they?

    • jhng says:

      Absolutely! In fact I had to change my pants after reading the above article.

      Haven’t had so much fun since the Olympics — and trying to work out how to engage in polite chit chat without infringing the LOGOC Right (for reference: semaphore plus a gentle arching of one eyebrow but not both at the same time because that’s a reference to the Olympic rings, obviously).

    • frightlever says:

      Everyone can snark all they like but the one thing the British prize above all is rules and queueing. The TWO things the British prize above all else are rules and queueing and Monty Python!

      • ZephyrSB says:

        No, the thing we prize above all else is tea. Queuing is a very distant second…unless the queuing involves queuing for tea.

        Which means there’s a baffling omission – where’s the 100 points for including tea in your game?

        • solidsquid says:

          I believe that comes under “enhancing British culture”, although the 4 points for it is woefully low

  5. Hoaxfish says:

    don’t forget the twitter hashtag this has spawned: #UKTaxexemptgames (basically british-themed parodies of existing titles)

  6. Chris D says:

    It seems curious to me that there’s no restriction on having to depict Britain in any kind of positive light. I could presumably make a game in which Britain is a desolate wasteland populated entirely by inbred incompetents and still qualify. (Feel free to insert your own joke here)

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for freedom of speech and any rule of that kind would likely be almost impossible to enforce sensibly anyway, but I am left wondering exactly what the point of this is.

    • battles_atlas says:

      The point is to provide a tax break to games developed in the UK in a manner that doesn’t infringe EU laws about state aid to private companies. This list is a fudge to circumvent that law, nothing more. Thankfully. I put it to you that a Tory government using our taxes to subsidise cultural products that met their criteria for cultural suitability would be pretty bloody nightmarish. Downton Abbey Online ahoy!

      • Chris D says:

        Agreed on the nightmarishness, not that I think New Labour would be a whole lot better either.

      • Soolseem says:

        You jest, but I would pay for a Downton Abbey video game created by Paradox. All the intriguey bits of Crusader Kings boiled down to a tightly-focused, highly detailed setting.

        • socrate says:

          apart from that game paradox kind of have a shitty list of game…all in all European game are quite bad compared to american one,very few became an actual hit with good sequel that span more then 1 generation and made good money and good review.

          • Soolseem says:

            I’m an American, but I really have to disagree with you here.

            Minecraft (Sweden)
            Frozen Synapse (England)
            Dishonored, Arx Fatalis (France)
            Just Cause (Sweden)
            ARMA (Czech Republic)
            Dungeon Keeper (England)
            The Witcher (Poland)
            Total War (England)
            Burnout (England)
            Far Cry, Crysis (Germany)
            Hitman, Tomb Raider (England)
            Amnesia (Sweden)
            S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (Ukraine)
            Fable (England)
            Grand Theft Auto (Scotland)
            Lego Star Wars (England)
            Assassin’s Creed (France)

          • Premium User Badge

            BubuIIC says:

            Assassin’s Creed? France? I couldn’t find anything about that.
            But anyway:
            Legend of Grimrock, Finland
            Darwinia, Uplink, DEFCON, Introversion Software, UK
            Democracy 2, Gratuitous Space Battles, UK
            Trine and sequel, Finland
            Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, France
            etc…

          • Hmm-Hmm. says:

            BubullC: He may be referring to the fact that Ubisoft is french. If I recall correctly they have various developing studios and not all of them are in France.

      • Premium User Badge

        Malibu Stacey says:

        I can’t think of any games which have been set in Birmingham so you might be the first ;)

  7. DickSocrates says:

    I wonder if they were prohibited by law from excluding the rest of Europe; free borders and all that. I understand wanting the game to be made in the UK, employing actual British people and profits being taxable in the UK, but to start suggesting where the game should be set seems odd. Perhaps it would benefit everyone if we did start making games about where we’re from rather than always starting with “Right, we’re in New York and…” Should have thought of it sooner, laws to prohibit anyone in the UK from making a game featuring an American space marine. Or Canadian.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      It is EU law that forces the inclusion. Same reason why EU students get free higher education in Scotland but anyone from the rest of the UK has to pay tuition fees. EU laws say you can’t discriminate against EU residents, they must be treated the same as domestic residents.

  8. Premium User Badge

    FriendlyFire says:

    What I find funny is that this means a Canadian game or an Australian game would have a harder time qualifying as “British” than a German or Greek game.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Why? I consider myself as a Brit to have greater affinity to Greece or Germany than Canada or Australia. Europe actually means something to some of us. The fact that we sent some criminals to the other side of the world two hundred years ago doesn’t mean we want to hang out with them now.

      • Duffin says:

        Speak for yourself, culturally we have alot in common with Australia. And that’s a good thing.

        • ZephyrSB says:

          I mean, it’s not like they’re part of the Commonwealth or anything…

  9. Unaco says:

    CVG had a nice piece, attempting to assuage the fury that there was in some parts when this was reported yesterday.

    http://www.computerandvideogames.com/371818/blog/relax-uk-cultural-tax-breaks-isnt-all-bowler-hats-and-red-phone-boxes/

    Importantly, without this ‘Cultural Test’ stuff, the Tax breaks/relief would not be possible. Tax relief is illegal in the EU, as State Aid is seen as unfair for competition. However, the promotion of Culture is able to trump unfair competition accusations (somehow), and so they can allow for relief through that.

    Also, the cultural stuff like this is used because it’s already been analysed and processed and accepted by the EU… There’s a precedent, as it was first used by the French for Motion Pictures, and has been applied to the French Game industry. It’s like a ready made thing they can use, rather than creating a new thing.

    • BigMistake says:

      A German tax relief has also made sure Uwe Boll could continue making movies :S

  10. Premium User Badge

    Big Murray says:

    These criteria sounds nearly identical to the cultural standards test which the British Film Institute use to determine who receives government funding for film productions. Except some of them don’t make any sense at all when applied to games. A much larger number of games have an abstract or non-descript setting than films do, making whether the film is “set” in the UK a useless question. Similarly, how many games have a story which is set in no particular place on Earth? It doesn’t fit.

    Sounds like they’ve lifted the tax break system from the film industry and copy and pasted it without thinking about it.

    • ChrisGWaine says:

      Accepting undetermined locations seems to show that they have made allowance for games being different from film in that respect.

    • mickygor says:

      Yea, if it differs too much from the film one, the EU would have to review it which is a lot of hassle.

  11. MOKKA says:

    Well at least Game Developers now have to switch their colour palette from brown to grey right?

  12. Chalky says:

    “if there are more than three characters depicted in the video game, 4 points if two or three of the three lead characters are from the United Kingdom or another EEA state or from an undetermined location”

    So if all your characters are from undetermined locations then you get full marks for the britishness of characters?

    • Premium User Badge

      darkChozo says:

      I think Pong scores an 11 on the scale for roughly that reason. Seems that you’ll either need to have some “qualifying persons”, whatever those are, or be located in the UK to get away with that, though.

  13. Phantoon says:

    Wait, so Happy Fairy Land is part of the EU?

    • Hematite says:

      For taxation purposes, yes.

    • MiniMatt says:

      Happy Fairy Land is twinned with Slough.

    • Kitsuninc says:

      Does a location that doesn’t exist, but is determined count? Like, would Happy Fairy Land only be okay if you never actually call it Happy Fairy Land, and keep it as some unnamed fantasy place?

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Also known as ‘The Netherlands’.

  14. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    “(d) up to 4 points depending on the percentage of the original dialogue that is recorded in the English language[…]”
    So if your game has no dialog you get nothing, but if you have just one sound clip which says something like “bloody hell!” then you qualify.

  15. Innovacious says:

    I was waiting for someone to complain about the government being xenophobic so i could step in and inform them that these restrictions are in place because otherwise it would be illegal by EU law. I would then feel a sense of pride for belittling this person and making them realise what an empty shell of a human being they really are.

    Unfortunately you seem to all be far too intelligent to have fallen for this. Good show!

  16. Shiri says:

    How does the last category work if I, as an Englishman, am a project head, lead designer and scriptwriter for a 2-person project, with the other half of the team being an American? Do I get 5 points or can I only count once?

    • Premium User Badge

      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      British modesty forbids you from taking points multiple times for yourself.

      • Vorphalack says:

        But not from claiming that your best mate, distant relatives, family pets and minor celebrities worked on the game in the qualifying criteria to bump up the head count. That’s British ingenuity.

    • MiniMatt says:

      My initial non-lawyer or accountant reading is that you’ll get 5 points from that at least.

      It’s going to be *very* easy to get your 16 points without cutting it at all close – hell you get a quarter of the requirement just by having the dialogue/instructions in English.

      Run it past your accountant but most of these things, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF VAT, WHICH THOU SHALT NOT PISS AROUND WITH, operate on a “don’t take the piss” basis. Half the team’s in the UK, it’s in English, I’d hazard a guess the accountant will have no qualms putting this in your returns.

  17. Bob_Bobson says:

    I’d welcome the novelty of a WW2 shooter in which all the main characters were from the EU, rather than every last member of that war being portrayed as an American GI.

    You easy qualify as a non-British studio setting the game in “unspecified” but seeing as a random Australian (or where-ever) country doesn’t pay UK taxes it’s hard to see why they’d like a break from the amount of UK tax they pay.

    • Tuga says:

      Have you played Hidden and Dangerous? If not, please do. I love that series so much.

      • Bob_Bobson says:

        I haven’t. But while looking it up to see why it is recommended I discovered a freeware version released to promote Hidden and Dangerous 2, so I shall play it later on today. Cheers for the recommendation.

    • jhng says:

      But that would be totally unhistorical! The EU didn’t exist during the Second World War. It was created when the Americans moved upon the face of the waters, separated the ‘Europeans’ from the void, and saw that they were ‘so cute!’

  18. GameCat says:

    They should make additional points for characters that:
    a) drink tea (+1 point if they drink at five o’clock)
    b) have ‘stache
    c) wear top hat
    d) wear monocle
    e) hate France
    f ) eat scrambled eggs for breakfast

    Hmm these are all stereotypes I know about British, I think.

    Also, people from Irleand are all green and drunk.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Are you sure you’re not British? That’s uncannily accurate.

    • Tams80 says:

      You forgot scones with the 5 o’clock tea! HOW DARE YOU!

      • Hoaxfish says:

        and drinking tea around 11am

      • wwwhhattt says:

        Scones just before dinner? Having said that an English friend did once say we have our tea strangely early (in Scotland).

    • GameCat says:

      ROFL.

      I thank you kindly, dear Lord Custard Smingleigh for making my day brighter.

    • Hahaha says:

      THIS BULLYING MUST BE STOPPED

    • megalosaurus says:

      What happens if the game has a historical setting, say early 1700s, and the Brits all love Coffee and have a craze for Coffee houses?

      What happens if the game is set in Scotland, say around 1400, and the characters all think the French are pretty cool?

      What happens if the game is set in England, circa 1100, about a group of British born knights who, cos they are Normans, all speak French and all have cousins in France they are very fond of?

      Does that still qualify as British?

      • Saldek says:

        For these questions you receive -32 points and shall be severely taxed.

    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      Green as the island. As in, actually largely pasty and pale. With occasional vibrant parts.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      Add
      Hate Germans (if English)
      Hate the English (if not English)
      Hate Northerners (if from South, applies equally across all countries in the UK)
      Hate Southerners (if from North, applies equally across all countries in the UK)
      Hate anyone living in next nearest town/city.
      Hate anyone living more than 45 minutes away.
      Moan about the weather constantly (regardless of actual weather & season at the time)

  19. Curry the Great says:

    How does this concretely affect competition between British-based developers and those from abroad? From what I know, a lot of devs work in Canada to save money on taxes. Won’t this just lead to a race to the bottom in the end, where every country that cares enough about having these companies will just lower their taxes to be able to compete?

    Also, I understand that the EU doesn’t want states to provide an unfair competetive advantage to companies and that it’s trumped by culture being a magic Great Thing, but in an ideal world, wouldn’t there be global laws banning these sorts of tax exemptions or limiting them?

    • MiniMatt says:

      By and large I’d say it makes bugger all difference in terms of global competition.

      (1) Truly global enterprises already have sufficiently devious accounting teams to not need the break – you don’t need a tax break if you can already show you’re making no profit. Starbucks has operated in the UK for 15 years and only reported a profit in one of those years – and to my knowledge no special tax breaks exist for purveyors of luke warm mud flavoured beverages.

      (2) It *might* make a competitive difference to firms deciding where to site their European HQ / dev studios but it’s worth noting that France (and likely others) have similar setups for “cultural” video game tax breaks.

      (3) It possibly *will* make a difference to existing UK outfits of <50 people who operate in the UK because that's where they live rather than a taxation choice, who can't afford large accounts departments to come up with more devious tax dodges.

      Number (2) is the only scenario I can see potentially having an effect on competition and that only within the EU (and most likely only result in a scrap between Ireland and the UK).

      As to whether there should exist global laws – about the only thing the entire world agrees upon is that child porn and genocide are bad mmkay (and with age of consent varying by as much as a decade around the world and genocide being determined as much by "whether we sell arms to them" as by body count even those two are grey areas).

  20. Tams80 says:

    So basically if you develop the game in the UK, you pretty much already have 11 points. I guess that’s good as the aim is the give UK developers a tax break.

    Add in a game in English and even with one possibly set somewhere exotic you’d probably have 3-4 points. Throw in some fish and chips, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, haggis and some Wensledale (with Jacob’s Cream Crackers) and you’ve exceeded the 16 points…

  21. Hypnotic Geese says:

    (7) Up to 4 points shall be awarded in respect to dynamic weather algorithms as follows

    (a) 1 point if the algorithm is weighted towards unending drizzle;
    (b) 1 point if the day starts off bright but then becomes overcast by 10am;
    (c) 2 points if 6 of more NPCs moan about the weather and conditions (a) and (b) above are met;

  22. HilariousCow says:

    Looks like Dirty Bomb fits right into this. Which is sorta ironic.

  23. Berzee says:

    The best thing about this is that, for people who don’t have a particular vision of a locale for the game they’re making, British is already the default Everything!

  24. Yglorba says:

    Actually, let’s seriously score Henry Hatsworth.

    The company that made it is set in Florida. For simplicity, I assume they employ no brits, so based solely on the game itself…

    All major characters are British. (+4)
    Entirely in English (+4)
    It’s actually worldwide, so we’ll say about 1/4th in Britain, +1.

    The hard ones are… is it a British story? What does that mean? The main character talks in “pip pip” and uses his ability to drink tea in order to summon giant British robots with a huge scrolling British flag splash screens, so I’d say probably,

    And does it promote British culture? Well. See above. A game with that many giant British flags on it probably does. But it’s sort of… silly. It’s about stereotypical Brits, not actual British culture.

    And it has to get almost fully four points on both of those, which could be tricky. So, actually, Henry Hatsworth might not qualify as culturally British under this rubric.

  25. Binho says:

    I’m going to go against the flow, and say this might be healthy for the games industry.

    Considering North American studios, North American locales, and North American cultural stereotypes seem to dominate the anglophone games industry, it will be nice getting a different perspective and hopefully different settings.

    Even just from British history, there are various milennia of interesting settings to explore, which haven’t been done in much depth. If at all. Everyone on RPS raves about the Victorians, but there’s the Georgians, the Glorious Revolution/Anglo-Dutch Wars/Enlightenment era, the Civil War, the Reformation, various Scottish and Irish wars/rebellions/the Border Reivers, the War of the Roses, Norman Invasion, Anglo-saxon and Viking kingdoms, Anglo-Saxon-Jute-Irish migrations and raids during the end of Roman rule, the northernmost frontier of Rome, Roman Britain, Roman invasion, pre-Roman Iron Age/J. Caesar’s British adventure, the Iron Age. If a dev is feeling really adventurous, the Bronze Age or the Neolithic (Stonehenge! Uffington White Horse!). And those are just some of them!

    Of course, there are interesting modern settings. London has as much crime and gang violence as any big city. Manchester perhaps more so :P There’s the ‘gritty north’ with all it’s half failed mining and heavy industry towns. Why not a game set during the 80’s in the North East? That might be too depressing!

    If you go to mainland Europe, you have even more interesting settings to play with. Literally millennia of history and hundreds of interesting cultures to choose from.

    I’d be sad to see yet another game based on a Hollywood action flick or all-american super hero comic. Seriously, how many more games can be set in New York or LA?? Not that North America can’t be interesting. It’s just been done to death! Probably for the simple reason that so much great modern visual media that people love and want to imitate or pay tribute too originates from there.

  26. trjp says:

    This is exactly why the whole concept of ‘tax breaks’ is bullshit – instead of spending fortunes of tax-payers money coming-up with this shit, I’d rather we just collected all the Taxes that everyone else is avoiding and we’ll all be better-off.

    I also require every other country to do the same of course – the only reason we’re considering this is because other nations are very good at self-sponsoring and supporting local industry wheras we’ve just let everything go to shit and now we’re wondering why we can’t compete.

    The solution is not in red tape tho – never has been – never will be.

  27. Beefeater1980 says:

    I actually think this is ok, to the extent that tax breaks are ever justified (which is another question entirely). I’d say the jury’s out on state sponsorship; we’ve always been pretty terrible at it in the UK and in principle it shouldn’t work, but other countries have done well out of promoting national champions in various industries whereas a lot of British industries that used to be state owned have fared very poorly in private hands.

    To the various people who are talking about red tape / questioning the principles, here’s why I think it’s fine. There are two ways you can write rules for government action; either have it totally discretionary or try to write the criteria as transparantly as possible. In China, where I currently work as a lawyer, legislation is EXTREMELY vague about the criteria the gov’t will apply (hilariously, out here some laws/regulations are actually ‘state secrets’ which means that if you are trying to find out whether you can do X, the only way is to go and ask the relevant department). This is entirely deliberate and is intended to give the government more or less total discretion, in a context of it being very hard to challenge an administrative decision once it has been made. Countries like the UK or US, which have strong traditions of challenging administrative decisions, are right up the other end of the scale. Our laws tend to be written in nauesating detail, mainly to make it difficult for anyone to try to overturn individual decisions on the basis that they are unfair, arbitrary or conflict with other laws (e.g. EU law, as various people have pointed out).

    Looking at the drafting, I actually think this is quite clever. 19 points are available for meeting the objective criteria (4 for location, 4 for the lead characters and 11 for employment). You need to tick almost all of these boxes to get an automatic pass. That’s going to be hard to do for, say, a generic WW2 shooter made by a mostly American team; at least a few of the employment roles aren’t going to go to a “qualifying person” and the production may not be in the UK.

    Then there are 8 points that in my view are discretionary – these are the ‘British culture’ and ‘British story’ qualifications. My sense is that these will tend to be all or nothing and that whichever ministry is in charge of awarding the tax break will award them in situations where they like the project and refuse them if they don’t.

    One other point. Giving a tax break is going to be an administrative decision not a political one. So it’s not necessarily the case that a Tory government (or a future Labour or – hah, we can dream – Lib dem government) could do a lot to influence who gets the individual tax breaks. Civil servants, who are at least nominally apolitical, will be making the decision, and their personal criteria might be the same as or different than the gov’ts.

  28. Radiant says:

    Cool

  29. MadTinkerer says:

    Hmmm… This could very well mean that a Hitchhiker’s Guide, Red Dwarf, or other sci fi game made by a small team of British natives who’ve never been outside of the country and subsist entirely on fish, chips, and curry could be disqualified because their team isn’t big enough and too many of the characters are from Future/Space-Britain-Equivalent instead of actually from “real” Britain. And in the case of H’sG, Britain gets blown up with the rest of the world so that might be negative points.

    Do any of the Doctor Who games miss out on this? I know they’re BBC so they probably don’t qualify anyway, but that would be an interesting test.

    I wonder if Jet Set Willy were made today whether it would meet the guidelines?

  30. SurprisedMan says:

    So if I’m the artist, designer, composer AND writer does that mean that I get points for all of those? Or do I have to choose one. I mean, we’re a two person team.

  31. Beefeater1980 says:

    @MadTinkerer – it doesn’t say that the 8 points for having Brits in the lead roles have to go to different people. A one-man band would probably qualify for all 8 points himself.

    EDIT: @ Suprisedman – in practice it will come down to whether you can make a convincing submission to whoever awards the tax break that the two of you are genuinely doing all of those roles yourselves. Intuitively – and UK tax/admin law is not my field so I am no expert – I would think that would be an easy point to argue; it’s not like anyone else is doing the programming/composing etc. The point of the test should be to make sure that EEA citizens are involved in the project, not to make sure that teams have a minimum size.

    Reading it carefully I’m intrigued by ‘or from an undetermined location’ in the lead cast condition. It seems to suggest that the points for that category would be available so long as the characters are not identifiably from a real-world country outside the EEA.

  32. solidsquid says:

    I’m kind of curious about the language thing, would you really lose points for having it in Gaelic or Welsh instead of English? Both are traditional British languages and part of our culture after all

    • GallonOfAlan says:

      “up to 4 points depending on the percentage of the original dialogue that is recorded in the English language or in a recognised regional or minority language as follows.”

      I think Gaelic, Ulster Scots, Welsh, Cornish et al would safely gain points under the ‘regional or minority language’ heading.

  33. thebluemonkey81 says:

    I want to see games that are set in Hove(actually)