Bristol-based Creative England was founded in 2011; a not-for-profit organisation committed to facilitating the growth of the creative industries in the UK. Its remit covers the TV, film, digital media and games industries. Creative England is not solely about providing grants and soft loans: sourcing investment from the public and private sector for projects and business mentoring are vital components of the services it offers too.

One of Creative England’s programmes is GamesLab which offers funding and business support for indie game companies. Partnering with some of the heavyweights of the corporate world like MicrosoftGoogleFacebook and KPMG, it also has strong ties with local authorities, universities and cultural organisations offering a strong support network for games companies throughout the region and beyond.

Mentoring help for companies includes regular contact with established mentors from within the games industry who can guide and advise them throughout the development process. Regional development masterclasses are also available to developers offering advice on pitching, marketing, development and legal matters once the games are ready for release – a real 360-degree support network.

GamesLab also hosts regular events such as the Digital Bristol Games Day, held on 3 February this year as part of Digital Bristol Week 2015. The event included cutting-edge games industry talks on topics including virtual reality, games funding, the relationship between TV and games, and special industry interviews, with guests including the trade body for the UK’s games and wider interactive entertainment industry Ukiethe BBCChannel 4, and games companies such as Viewpoint Games and Auroch Digital.

Funding opportunities

The opportunities for funding are vast, ranging from software, hardware and service grants, which allow companies to claim back 50% of the cost of hardware, software or consultancy purchases in the process of developing the game they’re currently working on, to the Innovation Programme which gives full support – converting an idea for a new product into full-blown commercial success.

“Mentoring help includes regular contact with established mentors from within the games industry


GamesLab also runs one-off funding opportunities such as 2014’s Queen of Code initiative in association with Crowdfunder. Queen of Code’s stated aim was to spotlight female games developers, who make up 12% of the industry. The £15,000 fund was distributed by Crowdfunder. Additionally the most successful crowd-funding campaigns each received an extra £3,000 from Creative England.

Other funding opportunities available in 2014 included GamesLab Campus that was supported by Sony Playstation and Microsoft’s Green Shoots Programme.

The GamesLab effect

While GamesLab support isn’t solely restricted to the South West, some of the most exciting projects of recent times have been supported and encouraged by the organisation. Here are some of the best:

Sun and Moon Studios

Sun and Moon Studios was founded in 2008 and is based at Paintworks in Bristol. It creates bespoke animation for all media and digital platforms, its work taking in everything from TV animation and corporate films to smartphone games and educational apps. It gained funding from Creative England to develop the game Eye Can Fly and we spoke to Dylan Shipley of Sun and Moon to find out more:

“Eye Can Fly is a 3D flying game for children that is designed to be played using an Eyegaze device,” explains Dylan. “This device allows people with disabilities who are unable to play mainstream games to play a fully 3D game.”

The game lets them: “Fly blimps, rescue planes, jets and even a very big chicken around picturesque locations while learning skills such as compass directions, local and worldwide geography.”

Dylan felt the help from Creative England was essential to the development of the game. In fact, seeing that the funding was available from Creative England was the impetus to make us come up with the idea for Eye Can Fly.

“We would also not have been able to fund the game without Creative England’s support”


“We would also not have been able to fund the game without Creative England’s support. We also found help through their mentoring, and it was good to be able to meet other studios who also were developing games in the region. The application process was really straightforward, and we’re glad we did it!”

The future for Sun and Moon Studios looks bright too: “We are developing a number of games for clients and are hoping to create another Eye Can Fly game depending on how well it sells over the next six months, says Dylan.”

Rumpus Animation

Bristol-based Rumpus is an animation and games studio set up in 2011 by industry veterans Joe Wood and Seb Burnett. The team also includes lead programmer and games designer Alexander Birke, and animator and technical artist, Dan Emmerson.

Rumpus has worked on its own short films, commercials and series work for CBBC. In 2011 they developed their first project, ‘Julian Sweeney and his Teenie Weeny Genie,’ about a boy and his magic underpants, which sadly failed to get any traction.

In 2013, however, they received funding from Creative England’s GamesLab that allowed them to develop a point-and-click called game inspired by Victorian novels and B-movies, The Adventures Of Bertram Fiddle:

Total Monkery

Total Monkery is a UK games company based in Plymouth founded in 2012 by Richard Weeks after 20 years working for games companies such as Psygnosis and LucasArts and as a contractor. Richard set up Total Monkery because he wanted to have greater creative control over the projects he worked on.

The first project that Richard developed was the platform game Iliara, which became the main focus for his team. After several months of work it became clear that Iliara was not a throwaway puzzle game but a deep universe that would only reach its full potential through development of a strong online community and a sensible, well-funded development schedule.

The team decided that Iliara would have to wait until Total Monkery was a self-sustaining business, and in order to do that they would have to start smaller. Total Monkery took a pitch to the 2012 indie developers’ pilot fund for PlayStation Mobile where they were runners up. And then they applied to Creative England’s GamesLab, securing a grant to start developing MagNets.

MagNets is a top-down 3D “collect-em-up” game set in the bright, wacky
world of Polarity City. Polarity City is a city of robots, with one exception – Polarity Park. Polarity Park is the last place on earth
where organic life grows, and it is populated by the precious – not to
mention adorable – little creatures called the Magnetpets.

Evil Twin

Evil Twin is the brains behind River Cottage Get Foraging, the award-winning Victory at Sea and GooHoo. The original Twins are founder directors James Carroll and Mark Carroll who are now backed by a seven-strong team of programmers, designers and sound engineers.

The games they develop range from bright physics games to realistic strategy simulations, full blown cuddliness and all out war.

Evil Twin received seed funding from Creative England’s GamesLab South West programme for Victory at Sea and the game has gone on to receive rave reviews and win an illustrious TIGA award.

You can find out more about Gameslab at the Creative England website.