Tracey McGarrigan is CEO of Ansible Communications and co-founder of Games4EU, a movement founded by members of the UK video games industry to fight against Brexit.
The day after the first advisory referendum, I cried. Like the games industry itself, I was born a few years after the UK first voted to stay in the EU and I’ve only ever known what it’s like to be European. I couldn’t comprehend how anyone would vote against the freedom to live, work, retire, study, travel, love and do business anywhere with ease. I quickly realised I, and many others, had been silently angry that this vote was happening at all and now the bubble had burst.
On 26th June 2018, I joined more than 100,000 people threading their way noisily through London as part of the first People’s Vote march. One thing on that day did become strikingly clear: somewhere in the swell of people were many other folks from the games industry. Though we had all turned out to march, we hadn’t done so together. Seeing other industries and pro-EU groups organising themselves, myself, George Osborn, and Jas Purewal felt the games industry had been mute about Brexit. We founded Games4EU that same month, dedicated to explaining and fighting the impact that Brexit will have on us.
After all, the UK games industry is one of the closest-knit in the world. The geography helps; we’re always fairly local to each other wherever we go. Rivalries, if they exist at all, are healthy, not destructive. Our skills as nurturers of upcoming talent and our ability to be champions of diversity makes us a network of creatives few other industries can rival. We’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m proud of the steps we’ve taken.
Given our nature, it’s no surprise that the UK games industry predominantly voted to remain in the EU. So why have we been so afraid to get truly political before now, to vocally fight Brexit?
That’s what Games4EU is for – a grassroots, not-for-profit political campaigning group that is encouraging open debate and empowering people to take action. We’re comprised of volunteers from across video games, table-top games, esports, interactive broadcast, XR and more, who have gathered over 1,500 signatures on a letter to MPs, have hit the streets of London once again with 700,000 other marchers, and have addressed the fact that there was little practical guidance or in-depth analysis on the impact Brexit will have on interactive entertainment by publishing our much needed, and chilling to read, Guide to Brexit.
As this phase of Brexit enters its final period, we need to be closer to each other than we’ve ever been and stand together to protect one of the most productive and culturally important creative industries in the world. I want to see the industry I love continue to prosper, grow and deliver meaningful entertainment to inform and enrich the lives of millions of people. I believe this can only be truly achieved if we remain in the EU or as close to it as we possibly can. As someone who would never have described themselves as politically charged, I now ask others to also find their voice. Now is the time to act; regardless of your opinion on Brexit, we should all be asking for a final, informed say on any deal. Because the threat to our industry and to our way of life is real, and the fear of not speaking out cannot be greater than the fear of doing nothing.
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