Tayside and Central Scotland

Scotland's games industry adds 'no value' suggests study

Game thing
Image caption A large number of Scotland's game developers are based in Dundee

A government report has claimed that the Scottish computer games industry adds nothing to the country's economy.

The Economic Contribution Study for Scotland's Creative industries, using data from 2010, said the sector brought a Gross Value Added (GVA) of £0.

TIGA, which represents the UK games industry, has criticised the report which was commissioned by Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise.

Both bodies admitted the findings differed from previous studies.

GVA is an economic measure of the total income of a given sector or business.

According to the study, which was complied by DC Research using data from 2010, computer games were the least valuable of the 16 creative sectors evaluated and were placed behind cultural education and the visual arts.

It also claimed the industry only employed an estimated 200 people.

Valuable contribution

Dr Richard Wilson, TIGA's chief executive officer (CEO) said: "While the data in the Creative Scotland report was compiled across all of Scotland's Arts and Creative Industries and the anomalous information explained by the absorption of companies into other categories in the survey, TIGA believes the results do not reflect the true value of the games industry in Scotland."

Creative Scotland said it acknowledged the limitations of the official data available for the Economic Contribution Study and had noted in the report that some of the findings did not compare to similar research into the computer games industry.

A spokesman said: "The official statistics on which the report is based are beyond the control of Creative Scotland.

"Their limitations were acknowledged at the time of publication and figures from the games industry's trade body were highlighted.

"The report remains a valuable contribution to assessing the contribution of the arts and creative industries in Scotland - with the caveats that were highlighted at the time of publication."

Creative Scotland suggested that a proportion of firms involved in computer games may have been classified as part of the Software and Electronic Publishing sector and as such their economic contribution attributed to that industry.

The report does suggest that Scotland's software and electronic publishing sector contributed hugely to the country's economy over the same period, employing just over 19,000 people and contributing just under a £1bn.

Successsful industry

Dr Wilson said TIGA's own research had shown the sector was much more buoyant.

TIGA's figures showed there were 668 permanent staff in 50 games development, publishing and service companies in the Scottish games industry, which represents almost 10% of the total industry in the UK.

The body also estimated annual economic contribution of Scotland's computer games developers was about £30m to HM Treasury.

Dr Wilson added: "Fortunately, the Scottish government, many MSPs in the Scottish Parliament and MPs in the Westminster Parliament do recognise the significance and the great potential of the video games sector.

"TIGA will continue to work with the government, MSPs, MPs, Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise to highlight the importance of the industry."

Brian Baglow, editor-in-chief of Scottishgames.net, described the report's findings as alarming and said: "The problem is that this is an official report created by two Scottish government organisations which oversee the cultural and enterprise elements of the Scottish economy.

"Moving forward policy decisions, funding allocations etc. will all be made based on the information in this document.

"If 'computer games' is seen as small, insignificant and of little economic value then the sector will treated as such."

Digital industries

A large number of Scotland's game developers are based in Dundee.

Will Dawson, convener of Dundee City Council's city development committee said: "According to the most recent statistics that we have access to, there were 3,379 full time equivalent jobs in the digital industries in Tayside. The companies employing these people turned over almost £185m.

"While I accept that these figures are slightly out of date, the digital industries are an important part of the Dundee and Tayside economy, and we recognise that the nature of the sector is changing from large-scale companies employing hundreds of people to smaller scale niche firms employing less than ten, it is still providing exciting opportunities."

Linda McPherson, director of Creative Industries at Scottish Enterprise, agreed that the report had probably misrepresented the games industry: "The report's objective was to look at the wider creative industries in Scotland for the first time.

"As the sector covers so many disciplines, we know that the report has some limitations, particularly for video games."

She said that bodies like TIGA had provided useful information on the industry in the past and Scottish Enterprise intended to work with them to improve their reporting.

She added: "We will provide, in partnership with industry and these organisations, a more current and comprehensive survey of the games sector later this year, as part of the industry's Digital Inspirations strategy."

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