EDITORIAL: Mixed Messages

EDITORIAL: Mixed Messages

By Develop

November 13th 2007 at 10:00AM

Itâ??s been interesting watching the Government shift direction on an almost daily basis when it comes to tax breaks for games development.

What’s more interesting, and possibly troubling, is what Culture Minister Hodge said of the industry’s ability to communicate; that it isn’t speaking to her with a unified voice.

With ELSPA signing an objection to the criteria for France’s proposed tax breaks, despite some of its senior members telling the FT that Canada is a threat, all while UKTI, BERR and Tiga produce the Playing For Keeps report, it’s clear she has a point.

Then again, such splits and rivalries are endemic to the UK industry, so there’s little surprise Government is confused by what it wants. This was certainly clear throughout the London Games Festival itself (where Hodge made her comments about tax relief), during which I think the games market both succeeded and failed badly in getting the message out to the world that games are a medium of true worth.

Compare the opening day’s event, Video Games Live, with one just the following day, the game BAFTAs.

VGL explored how games have used music, in its most traditional sense, to create emotion and excitement about its content ­– a packed Royal Festival Hall of cosplayers and genuine game and music fans proved that, yep, games are an excellent medium.

All of that sentiment was undone just 24 hours later by the awkward treatment of the medium at the BAFTAs.

The ceremony displayed a lack of appreciation for a medium it wants to court and acknowledge.

While the winners and the fellowship for Will Wright are all deserved, forcing those same winning developers in the audience (well, those present – but grumbling about having PRs and marketing people collect BAFTAs is another rant entirely) to watch characters from Hollyoaks badly discuss – at length, to boot – how games use stories was embarrassing.

Same goes for the insertion of of music acts hawking their difficult second albums, and the shadow of T4 cheapening the whole thing. Guess what: I don’t care if Charlie From Busted plays games.

If this is what it takes to make games content broadcastable for TV, and have our developers and games seen, then let’s not bother. After all, as Hodge told anyone that would listen throughout LGF, games are top of the class in the UK’s creative industries, and other mediums are competitors, so why pander to them?