The government has handed the UK video games industry £4m in an attempt to assist a sector that has remained in growth despite the recession.
The fund – which will be known as the Video Games Prototype Fund – is aimed at assisting startups in both realising their concepts and recruiting the staff to work on them.
The video games industry currently generates over £4.5m a day for the UK economy, directly employing more than 19,000 people.
Administered from offices in both Dundee (for many, the capital of Scottish games development) and London, the fund will give out packages of £25,000 for new businesses to build working prototypes, while a limited number of £50,000 handouts will help to take prototypical ideas even further.
Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey, supported the announcement by saying that Britain’s video games “punch well above their weight internationally” and that “we need to build on this and invest in the strength of our creativity”.
Vaizey famously accidentally outed a new game based on the Alien franchise on Twitter after a visit to Horsham-based developer Creative Assembly back in 2011. Survival horror title Alien Isolation – an unlikely choice for a studio that had previously produced only history-based war simulators – ended up selling 2.1 million copies and helped Creative Assembly’s talent and ambition reach a whole new audience of players.
“This fund will give small businesses, start-ups and individuals the support they need to better attract private investment and go on to create the blockbusters of tomorrow,” continued Vazey.
Before the Video Games Prototype Fund, Abertay University in Dundee ran a similar government-funded scheme which delivered measurable benefits in Scotland.
The UK has a rich history of activity in the field of video games. From Clive Sinclair’s ZX Spectrum, which is credited with kickstarting the UK ‘bedroom programming’ movement, to the likes of Rockstar Games, who code the hugely successful Grand Theft Auto series, the UK has pioneered many of the concepts and philosophies taken for granted in the modern global industry.
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