A trade body with teeth… Yes, really

Okay, maybe not teeth. That’s an overly aggressive portrayal.

And two less aggressive men than ELSPA director general Paul Jackson and MD Michael Rawlinson I have yet to meet (though chairman Andy Payne has been known to show his gnashers on occasion and board member Geoff Heath apparently carried a flick-knife as a youth…).

What I mean, is that ELSPA counts these days. It has an identity. It has a view. It has a direction. It disagrees with people. It makes decisions.

Some of those decisions you won’t agree with. I disagreed when I felt it was too quick to give that unconditional thumbs up to the BBFC’s banning of Manhunt 2 in the summer.

But, my goodness, what a good job ELSPA has done in establishing genuine political dialogue.

And the new board appointed on Monday boasts big names – strong, senior execs from Nintendo (David Yarnton); Microsoft (Neil Thompson); Sega (Mike Hayes); Ubisoft (Rob Cooper); EA (Keith Ramsdale); Disney (Matt Carroll); Eidos (Bob Burridge) and Sony (Andy Barker). Plus Jackson, Rawlinson, Payne and Heath, that’s quite a team.

The Government now respects and supports the games industry. What a fantastic achievement.

You don’t think so? Well look again at the Byron Review and the approach that is being taken to this roadmap for our social responsibilities.

We will be advised on conduct, for sure. This will be warts and all. No favours. But the review doesn’t look like a witch-hunt. And, without ELSPA’s hard work, it could have been.

Tax breaks? Protection from the media? Of course bloody not. We have to stand on our own two feet and fight our own battles.

But I am encouraged when I hear our Culture Minister say: You can’t be summed up in a sound bite – to explain what the industry does requires a genuine understanding of all the issues.”

And again when she adds: We have all seen media coverage that caricatures the industry to a ridiculous extent – this is not helpful – but we must equally acknowledge that the fear that some in society have for their children is real.” Spot on.

Hodge and her colleagues have been properly briefed. They have a relationship with us.

And ELSPA deserves a huge amount of credit for getting us taken seriously. Teeth or no teeth.

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