Key companies from the games industry have confirmed their support of the Games Up? campaign, which is designed to lobby Parliament and the media for better support from the UK Government when it comes to tax breaks and education.
Independent studio Frontier, Sony Computer Entertainment and Eidos have all pledged their support as part of the group which has helped organise the effort, which is also backed by UK trade associations Tiga and ELSPA. More studios are expected to be named soon.
In the campaign's official announcement today, Ian Livingstone, creative director of Eidos, stressed the need for the government to act now: “The industry is one of the jewels in Britain’s global business crown and UK games studios are significant contributors to the UK economy. Between 2006-8, UK studios will have invested nearly £1.4 billion in 10,000 jobs in the UK to create games grossing £4bn worldwide. But we’re struggling to compete on uneven international playing fields. Higher costs, lower access to finance and lower state assistance pose a major threat to our industry. We should not let this competitive advantage and such an amazing talent pool slip through our fingers.”
Education is also a key part of the campaign. Jamie MacDonald, VP at Sony Computer Entertainment World Wide Studios Europe, added: “In recent years, the industry could have grown so much faster if we had access to larger numbers of better trained recruits. It’s vital that we tackle the skills shortage to preserve our ability to make global hit games. We back the Government’s call for Centres of Excellence for video games and more Skillset accredited courses in universities which would help ensure that the British industry can continue to create a new generation of world-class games creators.”
And the overall message is one which push for closer ties between the games industry and Government plus the economy and culture overall, explained Frontier boss David Braben:
“This growing global industry already gives so much back - not just in tax, but also in education. We can help motivate children and teenagers to learn subjects like maths, physics and computer science - subjects in which standards and numbers are falling dramatically. We want to work with universities in a structured way to improve the content and standard of courses so that graduates emerge ready for real world jobs, not just in our industry, but in other industries that also benefit the country. We compete with the banking sector for programmers and the film industry for artists and animators. But in our industry alone we need at least 1,700 more staff over the next five years to maintain our global position. We ought to be at the vanguard of this global phenomenon, not moving studios abroad where the industry is booming.”
A number of other UK studios are supporting the Games Up? campaign. For more details stay tuned to the Develop site or check out the upcoming print edition of Devleop.