Just under ten years ago, Boris Johnson said that computer games rot the brain.
He said it was time to say ‘no to Nintendo’, ‘garrotte the Game Boy’ and ‘paralyse the PlayStation’.
Ten years later, and he’s not just changed his tune, but he has handed the games industry 1.2m to launch London Games Festival.
Let’s not undersell the achievement of trade bodies like UKIE for talking the Government – and its associated organisations – around. Not only is it hard to accurately explain the benefits of our massive industry, by the time it’s sunk in, the games market goes and changes again.
The Festival is part of a triumvirate of Government initiatives designed to give our industry the environment it needs to find the next Shigeru Miyamoto or build the next Minecraft. First came the tax breaks, then the introduction of computer science onto the education curriculum and now we have ten days of events that will allow games businesses to advertise their strengths to companies and investors both internally and around the world.
And what we need now is a real PR win.
Take the TV and movie industries. The British film industry is one of the strongest in the world. It has incredible acting talent, brilliant facilities, smart technical people and, of course, tax relief from Government. We know all this because of the number of times Brits who end up dominating the Oscars, or when Disney announces it will be making every Star Wars movie at Pinewood Studios, or the sheer amount of British people in Game of Thrones.
Isn’t it about time, with the talent and Government support that Britain now boasts, that Lara Croft returned home? Or the next FIFA is built in a country that actually likes football?
Hell, the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie was made in the UK, why not the next Assassin’s Creed video game? As soon as we fix our dodgy internet infrastructure (it is happening, right?), there is no reason why any of the above could not be a realistic possibility.
It may not be the reason why the likes of London Games Festival or the tax relief exist, but a big PR win like those will go a long way in immediately reassuring Government that its financial support is having a significant impact upon our industry.