Earlier last week Tiga (national trade body for developers) held a lunch at the Houses of Parliament to celebrate the launch of the new All Party Parliamentary Group which will help to push the videogame industry’s agenda to government.  Hosted by newly elected chair of the parliamentary group, Bill Olner, the event at Westminster was primarily to show that the government would be listening to the industry, and that policy makers would take seriously the concerns of developers in the United Kingdom. IncGamers Video Report Special: IncGamers talks to John Whittingdale MP, Vice Chairman of the All Party Group, Jason Kingsley CEO of Rebellion and Jon Kingsbury Programme Director, Creative  Economy of NESTA.

Not only will issues, such as those of tax breaks (of which the music and film industry already benefit from), but wider issues affecting the industry will be raised and will give an opportunity for an open dialogue between government and developers to resolve issues.

Speaking to IncGamers Jason Kingsley, CEO of Rebellion Studios and co-founder of Tiga said “one of the issues for government is that the games industry is new and who [would they] talk to if there are issues.

“By setting this up, we’re trying to help educate the legislators.”

As a result, and one of the many issues concerning the industry, is that of the workforce.  One of the key initiatives to come from Tiga, and one of the main reasons for the lunch launch, was to outline the Play Together initiative.   Tiga, in collaboration with the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), are hoping this initiative will help staffing issues in the industry as one of the major problems developers face is the lull between projects, meaning staff members with no work are still on payroll with nothing to do.  Not only is this damaging for, and in particular, smaller developers, but it also means staff aren’t at the cutting edge of technology, and could go months without being involved in a project.

The initiative will help developers share staff, helping keep their staff at the top of their game and also making sure the creative industry in the UK is as efficient as it can be.

Jon Kingsbury, CEO of NESTA told IncGamers that the initiative would also make sure that higher education institutes were also working in collaboration with the industry to make sure graduates would have relevant training and experience to go into the industry.

“We know that out of the 84 or 85 courses run in UK universities, very few of them are accredited.  Only four or five, and that creates a killer statistic.

“Young people have aspirations that if they go on a games course, they want to work in the games industry, and at the moment only 17% of students who do these courses get a job in the industry, and that’s not good enough.”

Richard Wilson, Tiga CEO agrees, and said that this collaboration will mean there is more chance that the already talented creative people in this country will find it easier to move into the industry.  By reducing business costs and helping with recruitment, Wilson hopes that the initiative will strengthen relationships between the educators and the industry.

Obviously one of the biggest concerns was where the industry sits, especially as the Digital Britain report was due the following day and has famously failed to acknowledge the industry in any capacity.  The report did recognise the industry this time around, and the primary issues from the Byron Report have been the main focus of the games sector of the Digital Britain report.  Of course, the pertinent theme of the Digital Britain report was that of high-speed internet, which will have a knock-on effect on those playing games online, and is certainly a current issue with gamers.

Covering everything from piracy to staff-sharing, the formation of the All Party Parliamentary Group is a positive step towards acknowledging the work done in the industry, and is also an endorsement of the success we have in the global market.  Coupled with the continuing research being embarked on to better understand how videogames fit socially and scientifically in our society, it seems the first steps to accepting an entertainment which has been shrouded in bad press are finally being taken.

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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