Conservative â??Game Councilâ?? plan gets serious

Conservative â??Game Councilâ?? plan gets serious

By Rob Crossley

April 9th 2010 at 10:59AM

MP Ed Vaizey sees huge opportunity for public body, and claims TIGA and ELSPA are against the idea

The Tory Party has once again advocated policy to establish a Game Council for the UK sector.

And Ed Vaizey – Conservatives spokesperson for the game industry – suggested that trade bodies TIGA and ELSPA were against the idea, yet insisted that the potential of a Game Council is ‘huge’.

Speaking yesterday at the State of Independence event in York, Yaizey even floated the idea that the existing UK Film Council could expand and represent both the British movie and game industries.

“It does strike me as quite Bizarre that we have the UK Film Council… and yet there isn’t a similar body for the videogame industry,” he said.

“I know that TIGA and ELSPA say that their own trade bodies can do that job with direct support from the Government, and that might be one way to go. But again I look at the Film Council… and I personally see a huge opportunity for the Film Council beginning to work with the video game industry.”

In his twenty-minute speech, Vaizey described the UK Film Council as a “significant big organisation that sits at the top table” – one with a huge budget, he said, which means nothing can happen in the world of film without all ministers hearing about it.

Vaizey added that any plan to reform the Film Council would need to be handled with care and caution.

“I am acutely aware of how these institutions work, and the danger that, if we went down that road, games would be subsumed within film, but it’s certainly something I want to look at, if we’re lucky enough to win the next election.”

The next election was – understandably – at the forefront of Vaizey’s thinking during his speech. With his party now on one of the most competitive campaign trails for over two decades, the MP made a gamely apology that he took to the podium in electioneering mode.

He pursued with a string of criticisms against the Labour party, and layered on praise for the game industry.

“When I started talking to people from the video games industry, it astonished me that people weren’t all over you,” he said.

“Because here we have an industry that’s high-tech, that’s all about the future, it’s a region-supporting business, it’s meant to attract students to subjects that politicians are crazy about promoting such as maths and computer science, and it’s got huge applications not just in leisure but across education, health, defence. It’s going to be one of Britain’s most important industries, if not already.”

Vaizey went on to discuss the severity of the UK’s drop in talent, and the Government’s long period of paralysis on the issue – something which has ultimately become an embarrassment for the Government and the Labour party.

“I have found it very frustrating watching this government’s videogame policies develop,” added Vaizey. “In my view they’ve done absolutely nothing to support the industry – especially if you compare it to the kind of support the film industry’s got over the last few years.”

Vaizey even went on to make the somewhat imaginative suggestion that Labour had stolen his very own policy when announcing tax breaks in this year’s Budget. Develop will take that claim to the industry association that is near-universally thought to have driven the entire tax break initiative – TIGA.