British Culture Minister Discusses Financial and Educational Gains Made by Video Games

Al Powers/Invision/AP
Al Powers/Invision/AP

Speaking at the Develop conference in Brighton, England, British Culture Minister Ed Vaizey stressed that video games are a vital part of British culture.

The minister discussed financial improvements in the game industry including tax cuts, an education endeavor involving computer science, and investments made by Abertay University and screen agency Creative England.

Introduced in August 2014, tax credits in the video game industry allowed developers to recover as much as 25% of their expenses. Vaizey said that “in the first full year, around 67 games have qualified for tax relief, representing a total budget of over £180m and almost all of that money will be spent in the UK or in Europe. We’ve also seen a host of applications flooding in over the last year.”

The Culture Minister also listed statistics for the game industry in Britain. There are 33.5 million gamers, who spend nearly £4 billion on games. The industry adds £1.5 billion in gross value to Britain’s economy and has generated about 25,000 jobs. Vaizey described “an explosion of games companies: the number has grown by a fifth every year since 2011, according to NESTA, driven by mobile games.”

The minister stated that “there was all this talk about whether [games] promoted anti-social behavior, when in fact we were looking at an industry in which Britain was one of the world leaders, and which attracted people at the top of their game in all sorts of fields, from the arts to computer science to physics. It’s also clustered – it’s not one of those industries that’s based in London, it’s everywhere from Brighton to Dundee.”

Addressing the effort made by Ian Livingstone of game publisher Eidos to introduce computer science as a standard area of study in British academia, Vaizey said, “I told Ian with the full authority I gained as a minister that he didn’t have a chance in hell. A year later he succeeded.” He noted that “it’s still a work in progress –you can’t expect to introduce a new subject on the curriculum and for it to work overnight, but we are making progress and it puts the UK at the heart of the future of this industry.”

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