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VGTR culture test explained

VGTR is a valuable tool for game developers, offering the opportunity to recoup as much as 25% of development costs for games that have cultural relevance to the UK. The full guidelines are supplied by the BFI, who assess the games eligibility, but they can be a lengthy read.

Here, we summarise the key points of the test to give an overview of your company’s eligibility.

VGTR Culture

Cultural Content – Total 15 points

Points are awarded for the game content’s cultural relevance to the UK. The number of points depends on the percentage of the game that has relevance. This is broken down into four subsections: location, characters, subject matter and dialogue.

Location – Up to 4 points

A culturally relevant ‘location’ is defined as a setting in the UK or another EEA state (for now – hello Brexit). Your game can receive 1 – 3 points if a certain percentage isn’t necessarily set in the UK, but the location can’t be determined – i.e. you can’t tell the game is set somewhere else.

  • 4 points = 75%
  • 3 points = 66%
  • 2 points =at least 50%
  • 1 point = at least 25%

Characters – Up to 4 points

Points are awarded for the depiction of lead characters that are British, from an EEA state, or have indeterminate nationality or species. For the purposes of the test, anthropomorphic characters are treated as an EEA state character.

Applicants need to identify the main characters and prove their prominence in the game. If it’s not immediately obvious why a character should be classes as British/EEA, you’ll need to supply proof.

  • 4 points = 2+ out of 3 lead characters
  • 2 points = 1 of 2 lead characters
  • 1 point = 1 of 3 lead characters

Story – Up to 4 points

Four points are awarded for the game’s story – either if the subject is British or relates to another EEA state, or if the source material the game is based on is a British/EEA citizen or resident.


Points are awarded for the percentage of dialogue or voice over recorded in English or in a recognised regional or minority language. These languages are defined as any in the Council of Europe’s Charter for Minority or Regional Languages: currently, that’s Scottish Gaelic, Welsh, Irish, Scots, Ulster Scots and Cornish.

  • 4 points = 75%
  • 3 points = 66%
  • 2 points = 50%
  • 1 point = 25%

The percentage isn’t guesswork: dialogue is measured by the actual number of words spoken (or that appear as text).


Cultural Contribution – Up to 4 points

This section of the guide can be slightly more complicated, as the assessment doesn’t boil down to just numbers and percentages. In summary, eligible games should promote British culture, in much the same way that the BFI asses British films for funding.

In the case of VGTR, each game’s cultural value is assessed on its creativity, heritage and diversity. The number of points awarded correlates to the creative process, British heritage touchstones and its portrayal of British diversity. See the full guidelines for a full breakdown or speak to an MCS adviser to see if your game could be eligible.


Cultural Hubs – Up to 3 points

This section of the test assesses how much development expenditure has been spent on production in the UK – this includes the conceptual development/storyboarding (2 points) and recording/audio production (1 point).

Points are awarded if 50% of the work on each section has been carried out in the UK. For cross border productions, labour costs are usually calculated as the percentage of time the contributor spent working in the UK. The official BFI guidelines give a good example:

“A graphics programmer supervisor is hired (i.e. as part of expenditure on programming), and for a third of his time on the video game works inside the UK, and two thirds of his time outside the UK. One-third of his labour costs should be attributed to work inside the UK and two-thirds to work outside the UK.”


Cultural Practitioners – up to 8 points

Last but by no means least, the people behind the production. At present, workers ordinarily resident in the UK or any other EEA state are eligible for these points, but Brexit could be about to change that: a concern for developers who employ a pan-European workforce and rely on VGTR funding.

Points are assigned to each development role. If there is more than one person in each role, at least one of three lead developers for each section should be British of EEA resident.

  • Project leader = 1 point
  • Scriptwriter = 1 point
  • Composer = 1 point
  • Artist = 1 point
  • Programmer = 1 point
  • Designer = 1 point
  • Key staff (heads of department) = 1 point
  • Development team = 1 point (for at least 50% UK/EEA qualifying people)

Claiming VGTR can create a lot of paperwork, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. At MCS, we specialise in simplifying tax relief claims for creative companies, to help you get the best from your application. We can also assess your activity for any other relevant tax credits (such as R&D) or grants.

Contact our team on 01926 512 475 to speak to a VGTR specialist today.