The road to XBOX ONE. Follow the journey

Livingstone on the Government's Digital Britain

It is estimated that within five years we will be living in a video-centric world where most information and entertainment will be available on demand.

The opportunity to slice, dice and monetise Intellectual Property will escalate and business models will change as content creators take advantage of the opportunity to connect to consumers directly via the internet and high speed broadband.

The Government’s recent Digital Britain report was their strategic plan to make this happen. The plan calls for the internet to be seen as a utility, working with ISPs; the creation, protection and exploitation of IP; media literacy and business skills in the digital space; broadband plurality, content delivery; etc.

Sadly the report made virtually no mention of video games, the often perceived unruly step-child of the creative industries.

Over the years the Government has stood by and failed to support our industry whilst it has supported the film industry that contributes less to UK GDP than we do. It has failed the games industry on the basis of skills, production tax credits, IP protection and even with helping to change the perception of games.

This is a shame since in reality games are as important socially, culturally and economically as music and film. They are certainly the preferred entertainment choice of today’s youth. People are enjoying playing games socially together in the living room and online.

Games are now part of mainstream culture, the new art form, that helps to define us as what we are as human beings. Games are generating huge revenues, contributing 0.75 per cent to UK GDP and responsible for over 22,000 jobs in the UK.

The Conservative Party’s Creative Industries Task Force, led by Greg Dyke, launched on April 20th. The review will examine ways in which the Government can ensure that the UK remains an international hub for content creation and distribution.

It will look beyond the Government’s Digital Britain report and look at how the creative industries can help lead Britain out of the recession. Within that context, video games have been identified as being a major contributor to the economic future of a Digital Britain.

Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “With music, film, video games and TV industries in the top three worldwide, now is the chance to turn Britain into the world's creative and digital hub.”

The review group, which is due to report in the autumn, will also look into how to sustain investment in UK content in the digital age, stimulate investment in next-generation broadband, create sustainable local media and ensure there is a skilled workforce. Jeremy Hunt said the Conservatives’ review would “look beyond” the government's Digital Britain report, which he said was “strong on analysis but so far weak on action”.

I was delighted to be asked to join this taskforce. In Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey we have two Shadow Ministers who want to help the British games industry prosper. They have promised action not just words.

This is an opportunity for the industry to come together and have input into the potential next government’s manifesto. I would welcome contributions for the review from anybody who wants to comment on any aspect of the games industry within the context of Digital Britain.

It is so important that Britain creates a digital infrastructure that further benefits our content creators and businesses. Please send your suggestions to me at ianl@eidos.co.uk.

Thank you.

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