And so the Election dust has settled. After a week of heavy negotiations and seismic political movements, Labour have become the new opposition and an alliance of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats now run the country.
In the run up to the Election, we attempted to speak to all three parties about their views on the video game industry. Sadly only the Conservatives responded to our request, with their then Shadow Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt taking some time out from campaigning to talk to us. With the announcement of the new Cabinet, however, he is now Culture Secretary in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with the video games industry very much falling under his remit.
In our interview he stated that “there’s a strong case for the introduction of tax credit for the video game industry” and that his party will look at doing so. Whether or not now is the time for such measures is up for debate, but with a post-Election Budget already announced for next month we may get an indication of their intentions.
Commitment, though, was a noticeable absentee from their pledges pre-polling day, despite heavy lobbying from industry body ELSPA. Moving forwards, by their own admittance, they have built strong ties with all three of the main political parties and so the Con-Lib coalition shouldn’t prove a stumbling block to their efforts.
What will be is the massive amount of debt that currently shackles the Government. With more than £6bn worth of cuts predicted, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is unlikely to escape lightly.
That aside, good news is evident with the appointment to Ed Vaizey as Culture Minister, concentrating mainly on the arts. Taking his place in Hunt’s department, Vaizey is a noted supporter of the video games industry and has already said that he would “shout about [it] from the rooftops.” Despite their criticism of the Tories’ lack of commitment on tax cuts, ELSPA have been extremely positive about the appointment. In a post on their website they describe him as “one of the few politicians to have shown a comprehensive understanding of the video games industry and the challenges we face.”
TIGA, the trade association which represents the UK games industry, also seem to like Mr Vaizey. “He took a keen interest in the video games industry in opposition. He recognises that the video games industry is precisely the kind of sector that the UK should strive to be predominant in during the 21st Century. He also appreciates that the principal factor holding us back is the uneven international playing field: our key competitors benefit from tax breaks for games production; we do not yet have one.”
He’s not alone in this stance, either. Lib Dem MP Dan Foster has also gone on record in backing video games’ importance in the makeup of Britain’s economy and together they could prove vital assets in shifting the industry forward, keeping this country as an attractive investment opportunity for overseas publishers/developers, and easing us away from becoming the scapegoat of the modern era.