Name: Jason Kingsley
Occupation: Games developer
My video games company, Rebellion, has really taken off over the past five or six years. On paper I’ve probably been a millionaire for about 10 years or more, but in terms of spending power probably five years.
I’m a medieval knight in my spare time. Essentially for that you need land and horses. I do all of that myself with my partner – she’s a horse person as well. I’ve got 15 horses. Horses vary hugely in price and I have horses which have cost £25,000 or more to buy, while others are rescue horses which cost me nothing. But the big cost of horses is keeping them – every horse will probably cost a few hundred quid a week to look after – food, bedding, vets’ bills, getting hay cut from the fields and so on. But I do all their training myself. Horses are money pits, but they’re lovely money pits.
I have suits of armour custom made for me. They are significantly more expensive than a very expensive Savile Row suit. A high quality harness (“suit of armour” is a Victorian term) designed to keep you alive in the joust would cost a bare minimum of £10,000, but more realistically £25,000 to £30,000. Of course, it’s going to get damaged and need to be repaired too. The armour I joust in is late 15th century Milanese armour which is a specific type of armour from a specific period in history.
I have three full harnesses – that people would recognise as plate armour – and I’m having a fourth one made. It’s a 13th century harness modelled after a church effigy.
I also have plenty of mail, helmets and swords from the 1066 era. There’s a general rule that once you get into this area of enthusiasm, it’s not possible to have too much kit. I’ve spent many hundreds of thousands of pounds over the years on my armour and kit.
I live by the chivalric code. It’s quite a nebulous concept – no one really knows what the chivalric code is and it’s not written down anywhere. The idea is that even though you’re a big strong man with armour and a sword, and you can kill people, you don’t have to do that.
It’s a way of attempting to control people who otherwise could just terrorise the landscape. The idea is to moderate or modify “toxic masculinity”.
The chivalric code is about be strong, be true, be brave, be kind to women and treat them well. It was quite sexist back in the day. Respect the law, give honour to your king, don’t lie, treat your servants well, and so on. Basically it comes down to ‘“be a nice person please’”.
In business the chivalric code means paying people on time, doing fair deals and being a decent person. It doesn’t mean being a pushover, but standing up for what’s right.
As for what else I spend my money on, I’ve collected quite a lot of original artwork from comics. That’s very collectable and valuable. I don’t drink, fast cars don’t do anything for me, and I don’t have yachts. I occasionally indulge in first-class flights if I’m travelling – because that means I can get to meetings in good spirits.
At the moment I’m also spending quite a lot on buying video equipment and doing my own YouTube channel called Modern History TV. I’m experimenting with it. For example, I’m commissioning craftspeople to make me medieval saddles – these cost a few thousand quid each – and you need one for each horse.
Through the company we give quite a few tens of thousands of pounds a year to SpecialEffect, a charity which helps people with special needs access and play computer games. I have also been giving money to Unicef my whole life. When I was a student I set up a direct debit for a few quid a month. It’s scaled up since then to a few hundred pounds a month.
I was a trustee at the Royal Armouries. It’s a charitable organisation that looks after the Royal Armouries museum, and I gave my expertise each month for nothing. I’m also chair of Tiga, a trade body for the games industry and I do that for nothing too. The aim is to promote best practice in the games industry.
I’ve reinvested some of my money in a studio in Didcot, Oxfordshire. The complex is valued at about $100m (£79m). There’s a shortage of studio space in this country so we decided, in typical Rebellion fashion, to buy our own studio. It’s an old newspaper print works with huge open spaces – I’ve invested tens of millions of pounds in it.
The idea is we can use it to make our own film and TV products. We’ve got a number of TV things happening including a Judge Dredd series called Mega City One and a feature film called Rogue Trouper with Duncan Jones.