LONDON---Introduced as the "minister for games" at today's London Games Conference, the Conservative Party's Ed Vaizey (pictured) was quick to point out that he's actually the "shadow minister for games." The message was clear, though. As the opposition party's equivalent of the culture minister, Vaizey wanted to court the attendant games industry representatives ahead of the upcoming British elections, which the Conservatives are heavily favoured to win.
One of the big talking points in UK development is how to retain talent in the face of expensive conditions, overseas competition, and the lack of government support in the form of tax breaks. "We're actively considering a tax break [for UK development]," said Vaizey. "However, we're encouraging you to think more widely, and if you want to influence Conservative policy, now's the time to do it," he said, addressing some of the industry heavyweights in the room.
Another popular topic among the UK development community is the prospect of a government support group along the lines of the UK Film Council. "There's no appetite to create new quangos at the moment," said Vaizey, using the colloquial term for quasi non-governmental organization. "But we're looking at having the Film Council handle the video games sector--it's something we'll look at if the Conservatives are voted in." The British film council helps bankroll films deemed culturally important to British society, such as the recent satire In the Loop.
"One of the lowest points for me recently was seeing a photo of a kid sitting on a sofa--listless, bored, fat, and yes, he had a videogame controller on his lap," he said, referencing a recent print advert from the Change4Life organisation. "And who sponsored this ad? The department for culture and sport--absolutely unbelievable!" he continued.
While admitting that he wasn't a gamer, Vaizey claimed that the game industry was a key part of his focus in the lead up to the next general election. The election has not been announced by the current Labour government, but it is widely expected to happen next year.