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Opinion: Is the UK government interested in UK games start-ups?
by Richard Hill-Whittall on 11/15/11 12:48:00 pm   Expert Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Today I attended a lunch at the House of Commons – it was a TIGA event called ‘Dynamic Entrepreneurs: Supporting Start-Ups in the UK Games Industry’. It was hosted by Tom Watson MP and Microsoft.

It was a chance to speak to MPs and discuss the difficulties faced by start-up games studios, which in principal is a brilliant idea and a fantastic opportunity. TIGA are doing a stand-up job promoting the games industry in Parliament, but after today’s event I really do wonder if the government is actually interested!

First off it appeared as though several of the invited MPs didn’t turn up, given the name badges left on the table as we went through to lunch. Those that did turn up seemed far from interested – on the opposite side of the table a few seats up from me was an MP (who I shall leave nameless) who spent the entire time he was there looking incredibly fed-up and bored.

He really did look like he believed he had drawn the short straw, and he looked at his phone the entire time. Even the host, Tom Watson, was heavily involved with his phone and left during the first course.

A little while after Tom Watson left, the angry looking MP also left, leaving just one MP standing who diligently stayed until the end. My overriding impression was that the government, and indeed MPs from all parties, are particularly uninterested in game start-ups and indeed the industry as a whole.

If the MPs attending today’s event are anything to go by, it is little wonder tax breaks are getting no-where fast and very little positive comes out of Parliament for the UK games industry.

I am however very grateful to TIGA for planning the event and the hard work and effort they put into promoting the industry; it seems they have a very steep hill to climb!

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Luke Mildenhall-Ward
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I started an independent game studio 12 months ago and moved it to Toronto, Canada this Summer, just prior to incorporation. The advantages and opportunities here are just much greater than what is available in the UK. Or rather, there are advantages and opportunities here, period. The most surprising difference has actually been the quantity and quality of talent available. I've come to learn that Canada is incredibly encouraging toward those who wish to work not just in the game industry but creative industries as a whole. This encouragement starts in schools, continues to startups, going all the way to generous tax credits. I personally see little reason for anyone to hold a games company in the UK.

Richard Hill-Whittall
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Yep - and pretty much all the things you list there are all the things not being done by UK Gov.

Seems they just don't care, and from the attitude of those present at the lunch that is very unlikely to change.

It is incredibly frustrating - such backwards, blinkered thinking.