Election 2015 England

Election 2015: Gamers give their views

PS4/Election Image copyright Sony/BBC

With the general election just days away, politicians are making their last pleas to voters in towns and cities across England. While they do that, BBC News is visiting offices, factories and other workplaces to gauge the mood of those who matter most - the voters.

The East Midlands has a rich video gaming history - it is the birthplace of Tomb Raider's Lara Croft, the ground-breaking Goldeneye took shape in Leicestershire and in Nottingham the sequel to blockbuster Homefront is in development.

Step forward the National Videogame Arcade in Nottingham, a celebration of the art form which last week held its monthly social for gamers to brush shoulders with industry insiders.

Image copyright Deep Silver Dambuster Studios
Image caption Homefront: The Revolution is a first-person shooter currently under development in Nottingham

Between pints of ale, glasses of wine and the odd round of Pac Man, the BBC asked about the big issues of the election - and the answers yielded a broad range of view of politics.

Courtney Nettleford, 20, a student from Basford in Nottingham, spent the night serving toast to the gathered gamers and industry big-wigs.

Despite not being able to vote at the last election, she was clued up enough to know what concerned her.

"I was more interested in tuition fees. Now it's housing - as you get older your priorities change. Probably rent and the NHS are the big things for me."

She believes safeguarding the future of the NHS is key to the future of the nation.

Image caption Courtney Nettleford is a student who works at the National Video Game Arcade bar

But as a keen gamer, currently engrossed in Britain's biggest gaming export Grand Theft Auto, she's aware of the importance of education.

"It's a massive industry, it's one of the fastest growing industries - look at this place, it hasn't existed anywhere in the world," she says.

"From my experience I studied ICT and I learnt nothing about computers, about coding. I learnt how to save a file, how to print screen. I think the government could push that and the arts."

"I am undecided how I will vote. It feels a bit tactical at the moment - I want to vote Green but I feel like I'm not helping Labour and helping the Conservatives and UKIP instead.

"I'll wait until election day to make my mind up."

She's not the only person who plans to make a last-minute decision.

Image caption Undecided voter Sean Oxspring wants to see education funded properly

Sean Oxspring, is an independent game developer from Loughborough, who also works in education, and was inspired to enter the industry by the British-made Black and White, a strategic "god" game.

He is grateful for the Conservative-backed tax break for the sector but remains undecided about who to vote for.

"I want to make sure that there is a lot of money going into education. I would like to find a party that understands computer science rather than people jumping on it and saying 'this is good for the country but we don't know why'.

Image caption Between beers and political interviews, visitors to the National Videogame Arcade enjoyed classic arcade games

"I think who I will vote for will come to me actually in the polling booth - that's when I will make my decision."

Education is brought up regularly. Laura Browne is the centre's marketing manager.

She would like to see the arts pushed by the government and given the same prominence as the STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and maths.

"I would like to see it become STEAM - include the arts in there for schools. It's vital for the industry."

Image caption Mark Patterson is fully immersed in role-playing epic Skyrim. He thinks the armed forces need better funding

Mark Patterson is a former newspaper journalist who works as a freelance writer and, along with his 10-year-old son, is a keen gamer.

He feels naturally drawn to the Green Party - a common theme during the evening - but has a broad spectrum of political beliefs.

He thinks spending on the armed forces should be increased, foreign aid maintained, and smoking in public clamped down on.

"The big issue for me in the election so far is how banal the whole level of debate has been and just how boring it is," he says.

"Very few party leaders want to break the mould of what issues you talk about.

"I don't think personally I'm going to be affected by any party, whoever is in government, other than income tax which we're all affected by."

Image caption Mark Robinson believes the economy is the most important factor in the election

Mark Robinson, who works in recruitment, is one of the few people wearing a suit - and he's concerned about appearing to fit the stereotype of a Conservative voter.

But he thinks the Tories have the best handle on the economy.

"I think the immigration argument has been and gone. I think it all comes back to the NHS and the economy.

"I will probably vote Conservative because I believe ultimately we need to get the economy right before we can spend more on other things and I think that's the party that can deliver."

He certainly wasn't the only person about to vote blue.

Chris Wilcox is bleary eyed after handing in his dissertation. He breaks the 'leftie student' stereotype and will be voting Conservative on Thursday.

Image caption Chris Wilcox said he is a bit of a "Conservative boy"

"They have put the country on an upward trend so I think we should keep going with that.

"In order to have good things like social welfare, housing, NHS - you need a good economy."

Not all the gamers are keen on politics though, and some won't be troubling the vote counters.

Thomas Honeybell is among them. He doesn't see why it applies to him but adds: "Gaming has become hugely popular. The government should do something to help the industry expand - support places like this - but don't force it to change."

Tom Kail, 23, is from Cambridge-based Inkle Studios, the team behind the Bafta-nominated interactive adventure 80 Days, and is similarly minded.

Image caption Tom Kail is intelligent, switched on and working in an industry which generates an annual revenue of £2.5bn. But he is not interested in politics.

He firmly believes voting should be left to those with a keen interest in politics, perhaps reflecting the stereotypical view of the younger voter.

"I'll probably vote for whoever my mum tells me to - I don't feel I know enough about politics to really have a say on how the country should be run," he says.

"The things you hear about tend to be the fringe issues that get voter support rather than the things that actually help the country and don't really affect me in any meaningful way.

"I would rather not contribute to the ignorance."

Image caption A study revealed 69% of Brits play video games - politicians would be wise not to ignore them

He thinks a website laid out in simple, easy-to-digest, impartial chunks - explaining what each party stands for, could help young voters better engage with politicians.

So is it game over for Nick Clegg? Will David Cameron level up or could Ed Miliband take a byte out of the Tory vote?

Maybe UKIP will get a power-up and the Greens a new high score.

Whatever happens, it's likely to be nothing short of a beat 'em up as we enter the final few days of the general election campaign.

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