The United Kingdom Games Industry in Peril
The Games Industry has always been treated as the illegitimate child of the entertainment sector, neglected by governments and mainstream media outlets alike. In fact, the level of discrimination to the industry is such that Ian Livingstone, Eidos’ creative director and head of acquisitions, remarked how gaming is seen as “one notch up from pornography in the eyes of most of the establishment”.
As the largest entertainment trade in the United Kingdom, the games industry draws in billions every year, yet the bias to the sector is still prevalent. While the nation may have been the origin of such games as Grand Theft Auto, Wipeout and LittleBigPlanet, the industry is threatened by a serious drought in qualified workers and financial support, causing British developer’s such as Realtime Worlds to threaten to leave the nation for Ireland and Canada. Recent statements by the UK’s Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, shed light on how the Government may be able to assist the sector, but only if businesses comply.
During his speech to business heads, at this year’s CBI HE Conference, the Lord touched on some of these issues, calling for more funding to be placed in further education (College and University) by businesses. He claimed that “business has to be central” to funding education, adding:
“Business can and should also contribute more financially for a system that will be more vocational and more targeted on generating economic impact than ever before. But that relationship should clearly be collaborative and mutually beneficial and preferably long term. It is not something for nothing. It’s greater business engagement and support in return for a system that produces the right skills at the right time and which supports product and concept development.”
TIGA is the national trade association that represents game developers in the UK and in Europe, with over a hundred members who mainly consist of independent games developers or in-house publisher owned developers. Tiga works to ensure that the UK Government, the Westminster Parliament, the Scottish Parliament, key political parties, civil servants and other interested parties understand the importance, the interests and the needs of the UK video games industry. Now they have issued a statement echoing Lord Mandelson’s call for businesses to support higher education, and so game development.
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