The Griffin was at a rather interesting event on 15th November – a games policy meeting at the House of Commons, organized between TIGA and the UK Government. This was an opportunity for a group of Indie studios to mingle directly with MPs at Westminster and discuss government involvement in the games industry. How cool is that? Thankfully, we’d previously been in touch with TIGA and, armed with a general ‘anything interesting going on, let us know’, they’d recommended we come along.
Somewhat strangely, it seemed Blazing Griffin was the only Scottish studio in attendance. Maybe ‘Scotland couldn’t make it’, but it did seem rather remiss given the not-too-recent calls for tax breaks, etc. that had been emanating from north of the border.
That harumph aside, TIGA, Microsoft (of course), and the MPs were up for some productive discussion. The fact that the MPs were keen gamers and had a real interest in games, was unexpected (but definitely useful), and they did spend a good chunk of time collecting feedback on various ideas – such as setting up something like the Creative Content Fund – avowing to report their findings back to their superiors.
The issue of tax incentives was soon raised, with the hope that we might become more competitive with the likes of Canada, France and the USA, whose attractive tax breaks are creating a skills drain in the UK industry. This problem has grown to such a degree, you might be forgiven for thinking there’s a lack of awareness in the higher echelons, that games really are a billion pound industry in this country. Bringing up tax – yet again – was a definite reminder that government policy is only likely to change through a process of gradual erosion (nagging) and a concerted effort to bring game industry issues to the top of the pile.
Along the way, there was a lot to be said about the highs and lows of being an Indie studio, and it seems most folks are facing similar problems. Access to finance is, of course, a common concern. There was also plenty of chat about skills shortages (some finding it easy and others finding it hard to get the necessary talent). There was some interesting discussion about distribution platforms and how different Indies are using them. Everyone was very open about what they were trying to achieve and the projects they were working on, and it was, as ever, a great opportunity to pick up on some development ideas and grow our list of contacts.
All in all a great day!