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CENTRIM Research A to Z Creating_games: Mapping and Upgrading Creative Processes for Sustained Innovation — The challenge facing UK Electronic Games Developers

Creating_games: Mapping and Upgrading Creative Processes for Sustained Innovation — The challenge facing UK Electronic Games Developers

This research undertook detailed process mapping of eight exemplary companies. Four are recognised as leading UK developers, the other four are at an earlier stage of development.


The research aims to:

  • map the changing production and business development processes of electronic games; isolate critical tension points in game creation;
  • illustrate how creative and other processes and indicators differ according to the business model;
  • identify the improvement and upgrading challenges, difficulties and needs – both generic and specific – of the differentiated business models; examine which core creative processes can be subjected to systematic innovation management upgrading;
  • develop and test a design specification for a process improvement and upgrading methodology which is able to incorporate both creative and routinised processes;
  • contribute to academic research and debate over the capacity (and desirability) to routinise creative processes by investigating and modelling the relationship (and potential conflicts) between human centred, creative processes and structured routines and processes.


The UK Electronic Games Industry is facing significant technological and business challenges into the next decade. These include the co-ordination of resources to deliver higher specification games for next generation consoles and the disruptive threats and opportunities presented by mobile, online and DVD games. Developers need to better understand the management capabilities that will be required of them, while retaining the vital creative processes that have underpinned success. While recognising the UK industry’s creativity, government and industry reports suggest that the sector is lacking in management discipline and professionalism.

The research sample has been designed following pilot work on the sector for a Regional Development Authority, SEEDA and TIGA, the developers’ association and discussions with industry leaders. The sample is structured to include developers operating across the five main business models deployed in the sector. These are work-for-hire, super-developers, original Intellectual Property development, specialist/niche development and service/tools providers. In addition the sample includes developers at varying levels of project capability, firm size and maturity and also covers developers of the key platforms and genres in the market.

Through interviewing, process mapping and observation the research will analyse development processes and assess the scope for structure and improvement. The research team will design a prototype upgrading methodology for developers comprising a series of workbooks. Use of these will be customised according to the business models in operation and primary platforms developed for in the user firm. The workbooks will be used by developers to reflect and redesign their processes, ask questions about where external change will impact and suggest ways to prepare. The prototype upgrading methodology outputs will be disseminated through industry media, fora and exhibitions, as well as the various publications and events channels of the Advanced Institute of Management Research (AIM).

The research relates to the technology and innovation management, creative industries and organisation fields. The literature suggests three interpretations: firstly, a balancing act or tension between creativity and management structure; second, a view that routinising certain tasks releases resources for creativity in others; third, routines and practices that are designed to effect creative outcomes. The research will contribute to these debates on the nature, effectiveness and desirability of applying structured management to a highly creative industry.

Research team

Jonathan Sapsed
Andrew Grantham
Juan Mateos-García



Research partners and collaborators

Advanced Institute of Management Research (AIM)

Chemistry, Creative North, Exient, Pivotal Studios, The Project Zoo, Relentless, Rockstar Leeds, Zöe Mode


October 2006 — September 2008