This weekend I did something I'm not proud of. I bought the Mail on Sunday.This momentary lapse of judgement, however, was worth it - if only to proudly read in the paper about the Games Up campaign which, as you'll have read in the story on the right (and via Develop's email newsflashes earlier this week), has seen 15 games studios and the industry’s two trade associations come together on key issues facing the sector.
How good it is to see the industry unite on these matters – namely costs, the tax environment, and education – and stump up the cash to fund active lobbying raising awareness abut them.
Games Up puts forward its case by communicating with the wrinklies in Middle England and in Parliament that still don't understand video games. That's why the campaign focuses almost exclusively on the mainstream media in the first instance, and will stretch to a national media campaign next month followed by lobbying constituency MPs and Parliamentary events.
Key targets will be attitudes like those held by the likes of Sir Digby-Jones who practically insulted a gathering of senior games industry senior execs at a private London Games Festival meeting just six months ago by saying he "didn't realise games were a serious industry". Don’t expect the kind of rhetoric spouted by MP Margaret Hodge – who tried to bamboozle those same execs by claiming that the 50 people sat in front of her asking what she was going to do about unfair competition weren't "speaking with one voice" – to be tolerated either.
After these comments, and the Byron Review, the campaign sends a clear message back to legislators: if the Government wants to lecture games firms over supposed issues on the responsibility of content, it should expect them to fight back on key industrial issues that actually matter. You know, all the things which allow for the various types of games the Byron Review praised and judged to be made in the first place.
Of course, that the campaign has made more noise via reports in the Mail and Financial Times in just a few days than anything done by the trade associations’ media relations activities might ruffle some feathers. But these quibbles are exactly what the united effort is seeking to avoid.
And no, the timing might not be perfect - Brown's government has some slightly bigger, well-publicised economic issues to frown about - but the Games Up campaign has already got people talking about the important issues which face the games industry.
Here’s hoping it manages to change the agenda for the better in the coming months so that when the Cabinet thinks 'video games' they don't think 'knife crime', and instead think about the 10,000 creative people that have helped make the UK games industry the success story it is today.