The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), organizers of the British Academy Video Games Awards, hosted a pre-award event with developer Will Wright and Creative Industries and Tourism minister Shaun Woodward discussing the future of the UK game biz.
Wright, co-founder of the now EA-owned video game developer, Maxis, is best known as the brains behind the groundbreaking Sim City and The Sims, and offered his insights on video games as a legitimate art form at the event. In addition, Woodward talked about the government’s support of the Awards and industry.
“Video games are a huge part of the creative industries in the UK and deserve full recognition for their vital role in our economy,” commented Woodward. “The huge diversity of games, from entertainment to education, put them at the centre of culture in Britain.”
Other speakers at the pre-launch event included Academy chairman Hilary Bevan-Jones, who outlined the organization's support of video games; Ubisoft managing director and London Games Festival chairman Rob Cooper, who addressed the context of the awards and an introduction to the festival; and Ray Maguire, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe's senior vice president and managing director for the UK, Ireland and Nordic countries, who spoke to the overall future of entertainment. Additionally, the event also featured a speech by BAFTA Games committee chairman and ELSPA director general Paul Jackson, who commented on the importance of the Awards and their contribution to mainstream acceptance.
In addition to the confirmed speakers for the event, BAFTA also announced two new sponsors of the upcoming awards show. Nokia N-Gage and PC World will serve as joint sponsors of the ceremony, with Nokia N-Gage also running the one award voted for by the public.
Though BAFTA has previously awarded games as part of its regular ceremonies, the formal announcement of the British Academy Video Games Awards ceremony was announced in March of this year, intended to lift video games to the same level as film and television as a "third arm" of its awards.
[UPDATE: 09/03/06 - 10.01pm PST - clarified that these appearances were as part of a pre-BAFTA Awards event.]