Think tank led by Gordon Brown urges UK-wide action to maintain Scotland's position in gaming sector
A UK-wide video-games network should be created to turn Scotland’s gaming sector into a global superpower, a think tank set up by former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown has said.
In a report, Our Scottish Future, which campaigns for radical change within Scotland as part of a reformed UK, warns that Scotland’s world-famous gaming sector risks being left behind by the American, Chinese and Japanese players that dominate the market.
The author of the report, Brunswick Group analyst Ruairidh Macintosh, said the newly formed Interministerial Group for Business and Industry, which brings the UK Government together with devolved administrations to work on shared plans, should focus on forging expertise, finance, and services across the country in order for the Scottish gaming sector to continue to thrive.
Scotland has long been known as the creator of games such as Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto, and Dundee’s Abertay University is renowned for its computing courses.
However, Macintosh said that without a plan for the development of the industry Scotland “risks losing another industrial legacy”.
“We will need to overcome long-term challenges around access to the right kinds of skills and finance, compete on innovation rather than on scale or cost, and find areas of competitive advantage, especially where we can marry the skills and technology behind games with other sectors,” he said.
“In the face of such stiff global competition, the best plan would be one that seized the advantages Scotland’s games industry gets from the social and economic connections of the United Kingdom.
“From finance, skills, and connections with England’s own world-class games industry as well as other leading high-tech creative industries such as film and TV, the UK offers opportunities to make the most of Scottish talent and creativity.
“Alone, the risk is that historically successful clusters in Edinburgh and Dundee cannot keep up with ever stronger clusters in America, Japan, China and Europe.
“By combining Scottish imagination with the ideas, resources, and connections of the UK we have the best chance to stay competitive in the long-term.”
Paul Durrant, director of the UK Games Fund, said: "Because we are connected across UK games clusters we fully recognise the potential for Scotland as highlighted in this paper.
“Strategic investment in games development and publishing across all nations and regions through the inter-ministerial group will improve the UK's competitive position and attract talent and inward investment.
“The maturity and breadth of Scotland's games development ecosystem provides an excellent foundation for the interventions proposed."
As part of the plan, the report says the Scottish Government should make computer science a core part of the curriculum, increase the number of computing places at university, and expand funding for start-up companies.
It also calls on the Scottish Government to open an investment office in London to help firms access venture capital funding from the City.
At the UK level, the paper says the UK and Scottish governments should work together to build a network that connects gaming firms with students in key towns and cities such as Dundee, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Leamington Spa, Cambridge and Sheffield.