Britain triumphs at Oscars - but UK games industry is Enslaved by unfair treatment

Opinion: Tim Ingham would like to thank the Academy...

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But it's difficult not to feel just a little proud of the Union Jack this week. Artistic titans, steeped in our collective national consciousness - the lines between lines that separate us from the God-fearing optimists to the UK's left and the surrender-prone revolutionaries to its right - have snatched gold right under the noses of Hollywood's glitterati.

For those with a passion for the interactive entertainment industry, there's also a sliver of joy to be afforded from video gaming's obvious influence on one of the biggest victors. Okay, so The King's Speech doesn't exactly mirror Halo: Reach's firefight system and Black Swan doesn't feature any Killstreaks. But gaming's shadow over Christopher Nolan's Inception - from its Modern Warfare 2 snowmobiles to its Force Unleashed world-bending - is undeniable.


But here's the kicker: At a time when Old Blighty's thesps are doing a cultural Columbus, our domestic video games industry is rapidly approaching crisis point. Two hugely celebrated British games that have earned multiple BAFTA recognition, Kinectimals and Kinect Sports, did so in the same month that the studios behind them were forced to lay off hard-working, gifted staff.

Meanwhile, famed US benevolence society Activision has seemingly demolished the bright future of London-based Freestyle Games - presumably for crafting a franchise in DJ Hero that was too innovative and cool to fit in with the publisher's new risk-free portfolio; not to mention its average Metacritic rating.

And then, of course, there's poor Bizarre Creations. One of the most talented, exciting studios to ever grace our shores. Gone forever.

The heartache doesn't end there, either: Yorkshire indie Code Monkeys shut its doors after 23 years in the business in February, whilst 2010's loss of Realtime Worlds and Ignition London still looms large.

Indeed, with the exception of the likes of Lionhead, Rockstar, Codemasters, Rocksteady and Evolution - nearly all backed by corporations with billions in the bank - the UK development community is looking more threadbare and vulnerable than at any time in recent memory.

It was telling to hear Colin Firth thank the UK Film Council during his acceptance speech on Sunday - and later suggest the Government's decision to close it was "short-sighted". It's true that, without it, The King's Speech may never have been made - and Christopher Nolan may never have got a film career off the ground.

And yet even in the Film Council's absence, the UK movie industry is doing a rare trade with Government compared to video games companies - enjoying meaty Lottery funding packages, as well as a controversial £100m a year in tax credits.


Development trade body TIGA claims that the UK games industry could multiply and reimburse a similar Government tax investment several times over - employing countless science and maths graduates along the way.

A like-for-like credit, it argues, would also help stop the rot of hugely accomplished British creative teams sinking without trace.

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