In the news today, a petition has been started on the Downing Street website (which I've signed) to basically ask the government to do something about the conditions that the UK industry has operated under in the last few years because times are difficult, and increasingly so. Though I support the idea, I think that it is basically doomed for the usual reasons:
1. The British public have a very negative view of games and wouldn't support it.
2. The British industry is not at all sure that they want it.
3. The other prevailing conditions in the UK (infrastructure, corporate tax rates, transport, location, standards of living, the crazy high value of the pound etc).
The British industry's chief problem is that it's full of middle aged men who have fought their way into a fairly comfortable position, and have no real need to change the way that they do things. No offence intended to any of the middle aged men out there, many of whom I am good friends with, but it is not exactly a young industry at heart and a lot of them have become suburban types with families and saloon cars, and they tend to be quite oppositional in their viewpoints.
This means that they see the industry as a big game of move and countermove, and to them the field is full of players that they already know. So for them the industry is largely a static place, so many of them don't support tax breaks on the basis that it means their enemy will get the upper hand. And to a certain degree, they are right.
But it doesn't really address the wider issues of the industry, which are things like why is it about to go bust again (And it will, now that the dust has settled on the new hardware generation and the publishers will be counting the costs of having spent so much jockeying for position), why is all the work increasingly not coming to Britain, and what does it mean for the future of the industry as a whole?
I'm sorry to say that the prospects are not good. Economic downturns are causing credit crunches, which means investment is drying up. Serious inaction on the part of the government means that places like Montreal, Shanghai and Mumbai are getting the upper hand in a variety of disciplines - all while still being cheaper than the UK industry. It's a global marketplace for skills, but the UK industry still behaves like a local one, and so does its government.
So in that respect, is it basically over for the UK as a serious source of game development?
What do you think?
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