Association for UK Interactive Entertainment
Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, or UKIE is the trade body for the UK's gaming industry.
UKIE was founded in 1989 and lobbies government on a range of issues including: age ratings, tax incentives, intellectual property and has been actively lobbying to reform education (see below). It promotes the message that the gaming industry makes a positive economic contribution to the country and brings societal benefits.
Its spokesperson is Ian Livingstone, vice chair of UKIE and described by some as the 'founding father of the British games industry'.
Involvement in education reform
UKIE is involved in lobbying for computing to be taught in schools and for the greater use of technology in teaching.
Promoting digitisation of learning: Next Gen report
Since at least 2010, UKIE has backed the 'Next Gen Skills' campaign. This aimed to get computer science on the national curriculum, which it acheived. A new 'computing' curriculum was published in September 2013 and from 2014, children as young as five have been learning programming skills in the classroom.
Next Gen has also campaigned for more digital learning in schools. In other words, using computers and computer games in teaching, across the whole of the curriculum.
Key to the campaign was a UKIE-funded study, published as the Next Gen report, into the UK's future digital skills needs. The study had the support of a much wider tech lobby, which included Google, TalkTalk, Facebook, the IT lobby group Intellect, the British Computer Society, the Education Foundation and others like the Guardian Media Group.
Gaming was used as a 'poster boy' for the skills review because of its status as a ‘high-profile rock’n’roll industry’, according to the head of UKIE, Ian Livingstone. In reality the campaign was acting in the interests of this ‘broad coalition’. The review was run by 'innovation' lobby group, Nesta.
The Next Gen. report made a number of recommendations:
- First was that computer science be included on the national schools curriculum
- Next was to train a new generation of teachers to teach it
- But third on the wish list was that video games be used across science, technology, engineering and maths lessons to draw pupils into these subjects
- This was followed by a call for a central repository for teachers of the best video games for use in classrooms – in essence, a marketing tool – and more training for teachers in how to use them.
The central message of Next Gen. was unequivocal. The consequences of not reforming the UK’s education system according to their recommendations would be devastating for the UK’s high-tech industries. ‘Unless we act quickly, we are in danger of losing out,’ it said. Despite an acknowledgement that Britain’s gaming industry was primarily losing business to international competition because of higher costs, fewer public subsidies and a lack of investment in universities, schools reform was considered vital.
The report played up the benefits of video games to teach, while ignoring the mixed results from the few trials conducted.
Next Gen. appears, therefore, as a lobbying tool for technology firms with a clear, vested interest in digitising learning, as well as enthusing a new generation of coders.
As if to underline its role in kick-starting an ed-tech revolution in schools, Nesta, supported by the same coalition of technology interests, followed up with a series of reports, all of which called for more technology to teach and strongly advocated the need to redesign education on digital lines.
Getting digital learning into schools: Next Gen schools
In early 2015 Ian Livingstone, Vice Chair of UKIE, annoucned plans to open a free school (an independently-run, state funded school) 'based on Next Gen skills'. It would be focused on science, technology, engineering, art and maths, and developing computing, coding and creative skills, and was as a direct result of UKIE's Next Gen skills campaign. It was hoped that the school would open in London in 2016. 
Livingstone urged fellow digital entrepreneurs to follow him into education.
UKIE members include game publishers, developers and major technology firms, many of which are also involved in lobbying for education reform around the world, and which produce commercial products for the schools market. Members include:
- Ian Livingstone, vice chair of UKIE
- Jo Twist, CEO. Previously Channel 4’s Commissioning Editor for Education. Twist is a London Tech Ambassador.
- Theo Blackwell, lobbyist. Blackwell is also a councillor in the London Borough of Camden and its Cabinet member for Finance and Technology Policy. He used to be a lobbyist with BPI.
Former lobbying agencies
- Excerpt taken from A Quiet Word by Cave and Rowell (Vintage, 2015), pages 260-261
- Ukie Vice Chair Ian Livingstone discusses next gen skills based free school , UKIE website, 7 January 2015
- Tomb Raider creator to open two free schools with digital focus, Guardian, 5 February 2016