The British Games Industry has seen better times, with the nation dropping from the third largest producer of games to the fifth. Developers are leaving the country for greener pastures, and the British education system is failing to provide the skilled workers necessary to create games. Last month PlayStation LifeStyle wrote an in-depth article analysing the peril that the country faced, now PSLS has interviewed Ed Vaizey, the Shadow Minister for Culture, as well as the Member of Parliament representing Wantage and Didcot, over his plans for the ailing industry.
If, in the next General Election (which must be held no later than Thursday 3rd June 2010), the current favourite, and largest opposition party, the Conservatives come to power, Ed Vaizey would be a key political figure in the Games Industry. Check out the full interview below.
1. Were the Conservatives to come in to power, what would your remit be, in regards to the Games Industry?
I would be the Minister responsible for the sector, though of course Treasury and BIs would have a role.
2. As a teenager, what where your favourite games to play, and why did you stop?
Defender, Space Invaders. I stopped because of a lack of hand-eye co-ordination. I also enjoyed Dungeons and Dragons which of course is closely linked to the sector.
3. Given that you don’t play computer games anymore, do you think that this cloud’s your judgement over an industry that you could have vast control over?
NO – I recognise it’s a hugely successful sector, and I know when to listen to people who know more than me.
4. You’ve made comments on how TIGA and ELSPA should be merged, possibly into a Video Games Council, have you made any headway with this, or with merging it into the Films Council?
I know the Film Council is talking to the industry and I hope to accelerate this process if we win. A merger between ELSPA and TIGA is very much for them – I know there are difficulties there. All I want is for video games to have one voice as it makes it much easier to win over government. How they do that is up to them.
5. Do you support any developers in your own constituency?
No, but there are a lot in Oxford nearby, like Revolution.
6. Why do you believe that the current Government demonises gaming and refuses to help the industry with tax breaks?
I’ve no idea why the Government doesn’t stand up for the industry – it is a no-brainer. Hi-tech, highly skilled, regional and world beating, what is not to like. Tax breaks are complicated – they cost money and can be abused, but we definitely need to look at them.
7. Recent statements by the UK’s Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson called for more funding to be placed in further education by businesses, an announcement that was echoed by TIGA, who also asked that the “Government to spend more on higher education”, which would in turn supply qualified individuals to the Game Industry. Who do you feel should be more responsible for investing in the education of games designers, businesses or the Government?
I think both – Government should make sure through the sector skills councils, that video games courses are up to scratch. We should support the industry in taking on trainees. But industry needs to invest in the skilled people it needs as well.
8. If the Conservatives were in power, what changes would be made to support the Games Industry?
Very vocal support, which is actually more meaningful than it sounds. A real focus on skills. And a fiscal climate that is supportive of the industry’s needs.
9. On a lighter note, do you know any politicians who are avid gamers?
No, which shows how much we discuss games in the Commons – not enough!!
We’d like to thank Ed Vaizey for taking the time to speak with us regarding the British Games Industry, to learn more about the MP you can check out his personal website here. Stay tuned to PSLS for more information on the UK Gaming Industry, as well as general gaming news, reviews and interviews.