Games developers need support, university tells MPs

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Child playing Nintendo DS
Image caption,
The games industry is worth an estimated £30m to Scotland's economy

Computer gaming has the potential to be a flagship UK industry, given the right support, a Scottish university has told a House of Commons inquiry.

Staff from the University of Abertay in Dundee told the Scottish Affairs Committee the industry needs a range of support measures to create new jobs.

They want help to improve the supply of upfront investment needed for the often lengthy development process of games.

The industry is currently worth about £30m to the Scottish economy.

However, it has been forced to cut jobs by about a fifth in the past year as a result of increasingly tough global competition.

Tax breaks scrapped

A full parliamentary inquiry into whether the sector needs more support following the UK government's decision to scrap tax breaks is being carried out by the Scottish Affairs Committee.

Paul Durrant, director of business development at Abertay University, joined Dr Richard Wilson, CEO of the Independent Game Developers' Association, and Michael Rawlinson, director general of the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, to give evidence to a panel of MPs.

The committee has already made a fact-finding trip to Abertay University.

The university is an International Centre for Excellence in Computer Games Education and supports gaming companies in Dundee.

It is running a £5m project to help the industry, which aims to generate 30 new companies, support 80 existing smaller firms and create up to 400 new jobs.

The prototyping project is funded by the UK government, a Scottish government-administered European Regional Development Fund and Abertay University investment.

Mr Durrant said: "Games development is a very valuable industry for the UK economy, and the explosion of gaming on mobile phones and social networks means there is enormous growth potential for companies of all sizes.

"We continue to strongly support the industry's calls for games tax relief, but we also recognise the important role of other support mechanisms, including ways to incentivise private sector project finance."

In its official submission to the Scottish Affairs Committee, Abertay University argued that new ways of generating private project finance are needed for the games industry to realise its full potential.

It argued that, with strong support, computer gaming has the potential to be a flagship UK industry.

The university said it could generate value-added businesses, provide secure employment to highly skilled individuals, and meet the government's aim of rebalancing the economy and supporting the growth of the private sector across the UK.

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