U.K. Game Biz Wants Government to Stop Brain Drain

Video game industry types in the U.K. are lamenting the loss of talented developers to competing nations, reports the Guardian.

Complaints about a lack of government subsidies to U.K. game firms has been increasingly heard in recent years. The newspaper notes that video games, which add more than a billion pounds to the nation’s GDP, receive no support while film production, which contributes less, is susidized.

Canada and France, both of which support their game industries, are taking business – and talent – away from U.K. firms. Some 30,000 British expatriot game biz workers live in British Columbia alone. EA developer Matthew Boulton is among them:

Games are a lot more high profile here; it’s recognised as an important industry. Maybe that’s true in the UK as well, but you never get that sense. You never hear politicians mention it – but here, it’s one of the things that people know is strong and that you need to support.

Conservative MP Edward Vaizey, a strong supporter of the U.K. game industry, told the Guardian:

The only time [the game biz] gets mentioned in parliament is when Keith Vaz [chairman of the home affairs committee] is blaming it for causing some recent outrage. We were the second largest in the world, but we are slipping.

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  1. Wormdundee says:

     As someone who lives/works in British Columbia I can say it’s not just game-related jobs moving over here. I know the majority of the people leaving the UK are coming for the game jobs, but just general software engineering is having a pull as well.

    At my previous job, on a team of 50-60 people there were around 10 people who had moved over here from the UK, just because of the fact of better pay/lower cost of living.

  2. State says:

    Sorry but Keith Vaz (he’s not even a cabinet minister) and the Daily Mail (people forget that every Friday someone reviews games for the paper and has reviewed previous games such as GTA4 of God of War 2) do not hold much power at all, it seems everyone is playing the blame game at blaming those two for playing the blame game.

    The government can make the tax breaks if it wants (but under Gordon Brown we have seen the removal of tax breaks for the film industry which has been highly damaging on that industry) but they aren’t that supportive of the creative/entertainment industry at all. I’ve noticed that in London Mayor Johnson has actually been addressing this issue as he sees that as an important industry for the capital so perhaps pressure may start to build on the Government, but at this point in time tax breaks for the games industry is the least of their worries.

    The status of games and people’s views on it don’t have any effect over whether the industry receives tax breaks, parliament will purely look at the financial side of things (and it’s not even them who will decide, it will be an independent commission), if it helps to make money in the long run and helps to employ people then it would be considered, but currently it appears that the games industry wants a tax break without doing anything itself to say why it would be worthwhile for the government to do so.

  3. TBoneTony says:

    I think things will only get better for the UK games industry when Keith Vass is voted out of Power and the Daily Mail is being sued for all the slander and miss information they have cused. I


    n the Byron Review from last year, I remember that the real problem is that parents are getting all the wrong information about Videogames and they are never getting the right information to make the right choises.

    And yet, the government is still playing the blame game, and the newspapers are still going over the same sort of trash like they did always.

    While it is possible that Kieth Vass will be voted out, it will never change the way people get their information from newspapers.


    And the best coverage on Videogames both positive and negative comes from game magazines like GamesTM and also Retro Gamer for those who love the old classics.

    Yet not many parents would ever pick them up to read them simply because many parents from the Baby Boomer Gen and older will simply never understand Videogames at all.


    And the Government and the newspapers continue that line of blaming videogames every time a school shooting comes up or when some other outrage occours even if it is not in their own country.


    Sadly, things will never change and the only way things can get better is if older politicians who are causing the trouble get voted out, or if people simply stop reading the daily mail, that is the only thing I could see changing.



  4. State says:

    Actually the pay is much better in other industries within the UK (and you generally get treated better too) when compared to the games industry, they abuse people too much due to the fact that they can get them to do anything for the love of gaming.

  5. SticKboy says:

    You think it’s only a matter of time until the British Government outlaw videogame development studios and send their employees to jail?

    What the fuck are you smoking – crack??

  6. SticKboy says:

    Um… don’t you mean sale and distribution of (a certain few) videogames?

    Hardly the same thing as creation and development – nobopdy is calling for Lionhead, Rockstar, Eidos, Codemasters, Rare, Rebellion etc etc to close down.

  7. MonkeyPeaches says:

    Maybe if they stopped trying to ban and criminalize the creation of video games, they could get creators to stay.

  8. Canary Wundaboy says:

    There are absolutely LOADS of UK positions begging for programmers and artists, but the pay is so much better elsewhere that all the talent is simply moving out the first chance they get. Hell I’m looking for community management positions and even the little fish like me have got a better chance on the continent.


    Check out my blog – http://serveratcapacity.blogspot.com

  9. Austin_Lewis says:

    What ever happened to working hard for that swimming pool?  That’s what I did.

    By the way, if you want to see the real crock of government, check out how rarely some senators and congressmen vote.  One of the worst voting records in history (as in absent a lot) was John Kerry, and another example was Julia Carson, who, while using government money to pay for basically everything, including medical treatment, helicopter rides (aka Aerial Tours around Indianapolis), and babysitting, showed up for less than 10% of votes, and voted in even fewer.

    Seriously, I’m amazed that some of these people keep getting elected due to their lack of involvement.  It’s almost like you’re not voting for anyone at all, considering they never vote for their constituents.  But they still manage to spend our money left and right.

  10. NovaBlack says:

    ‘Suuuuuure, blame the guy who has to deal with the mess, not the people who caused it.’


    lol its hilarious. Like, "well if theyd sorted this out years ago, i wouldnt have been ABLE to scam all this money off tax payers to pay for a plasma tv / swimming pool etc, therefore it isnt my fault its the guys fault who didnt stop me”

  11. DarkSaber says:

    I caught the headlines on the papers today, it looks like all 3 parties have chosen their scapegoat now. The speaker of the house, amusingly enough because of ‘how he’s handled’ things. Suuuuuure, blame the guy who has to deal with the mess, not the people who caused it.

    But regardless, yeah the games industry is gonna be ignored for a few more years to come, guaranteed.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  12. NovaBlack says:

    i finish my degree this week and 110% feel the same.

    30% better wages on average in canada (and thats AFTER conversion!). And on average the average cost of living is like 25% LESS. I want a good quality of life for any family i may have, how can i justify 30 yrs working here for that much less?

  13. GoodRobotUs says:

    I’ve seen it happen, gifted coders moving abroad simply because there were better prospects there, even I’m considering it once I get my degree, though I’d much rather stay in the UK, I love this country, for all its faults, but if becomes a choice between me and my partners’ future and my love of the UK, I’ll be first in the queue for a Passport.

  14. NovaBlack says:

    said it a million times.

    I finish uni this week after games programming course, and in 12 days i start my job as a non junior gameplay/ai programmer for a well known UK studio. Havent even got my grades back yet, so its a massive achievement for me, and im going into a non junior role (normally takes at least 12 months as a junior to get this job!). I work bloody bloody hard (hence i get the grades i do, and got the job ive got). But im still planning to get 2 yrs experience here and move to canada.

    I cant justify earning a 3rd less here over ppl i know in canada. And you have such a sh*t stigma attached to the job here from most of the public (caused in no small part by stupid a**holes like mr vaz). What possible reason do i have to stay here for the next 30 years of my career? NONE.

  15. beemoh says:

    >The only time [the game biz] gets mentioned in parliament is when Keith Vaz is blaming it for causing some recent outrage.

    Actively being called out by other MPs? Ooh, controversial.


  16. State says:

    Now is the time to strike a deal with the games industry with many people out of work. They can give a conditional tax break on the basis of the companies having decent training/apprenticeship schemes where graduates will be trained further to the standard required (instead of the companies expecting grads to have all sorts of experience such as two years programming in a commercial environment and experience with £100,000 game engines).

    If companies were more willing to take on new employees (in even basic roles) then I think a tax break should be considered. But with the way the industry currently treats its employees it shouldn’t get a tax break, it should get one when it decides to change.

  17. Roh02 says:

    if its all about how much money a business brings in and the game industry brings in more money than others do that are subsidized and it does it without being subsidized then its an open and shut case.

    it should be getting subsidized and anyone in the government who says different is ignoring the math and doesnt desserve their job.

  18. DarkSaber says:

    Vaz is not single handedly responsible for the industry being ignored for subsidies you know. British politics just like to work on the principle of scapegoating.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  19. GoodRobotUs says:

    Ironic part is that 6 weeks ago, they were happily attacking the C.O’s of big business for having their fingers dipped in the honey-jar 😉

    The amounts aren’t nearly the same, admittedly, but the concept behind it is.

  20. DarkSaber says:

    Most MPs are too busy trying to find a scapegoat to deflect attention from the abuses of expense accounts that have recently come to light.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

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