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David Cameron launches UK's first accessible gaming centre

PM hails "inventive and creative" games industry

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, today launched the UK's first accessible games centre in his constituency of Witney, Oxfordshire.

The centre, run by children's charity SpecialEffect, was formally opened by Cameron and the charity's patron, Matt Hampson. It offers a central hub where technology can be tested and shared to help young people with disabilities to play videogames.

Speaking at the launch, attended by GamesIndustry.biz, Cameron said: "The work of SpecialEffect brings together three things that I am passionate about: helping those with disabilities, the innovative use of technology and corporate social responsibility." "This new centre will enhance the quality of life for some of the most severely disabled people across the UK and I will continue to support SpecialEffect as their local MP.

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Hampson, a former England under-21 rugby player paralysed in a scrum accident, said: "Like me, many other people with disabilities are interested to find out about the benefits of games and leisure technology for socialisation, rehabilitation and, of course, fun. Now they drop into a friendly centre and can see what it can do for them."

Cameron was given a tour of the facilities at SpecialEffect's headquarters, including taking on Shahzad Hossain, a young disabled gamer, at Gran Turismo 5 using accessible technology. Cameron quipped that he had been "thrashed".

Speaking about the games industry, he said: "It's incredibly inventive and creative and a massive provider of growth and jobs and I think that will just continue.

"As someone who has an iPad and is pretty expert at Angry Birds and Flight Control HD if you haven't tried that one give it a try; eventually the airplanes do all crash but it's fun while it lasts - I think what the games industry is doing in terms of helping you and working with you is incredibly important.

"The games industry is a very successful business and for a small amount of outlay from them there's an enormous amount they can do to help you and disabled people."

UKIE chairman Andy Payne, who also gave a speech at the event, told GamesIndustry.biz: "I think the PM was inspirational, absolutely inspirational taking time out to come here and recognise what these guys are doing is just exemplary.

"And he gets it that is a big thing for us as an industry, this charity and importantly the people who find that they can play on a level playing field through games technology".

UKIE director-general Michael Rawlinson added: "What SpecialEffect do is amazing and it really just reflects the industry's commitment for gaming for everybody.

"I think David Cameron genuinely believes the computer games industry can play its part in helping young people and those with disabilities".

For Dr Mick Donegon, head of SpecialEffect, the event was of huge importance. "I genuinely feel David's support and endorsement has been really significant in terms of building up our credibility.

"We're actually a place now where people with disabilities and also developers can come and see the kind of technology that can be used"

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Latest comments (18)

Russell Watson Senior Designer, Born Ready Games5 years ago
This is awesome! Games technology has so much potential. Now wouldn't it be nice if any of the large game companies got behind this?
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D5 years ago
Interesting - and just two weeks before the budget.
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Must...resist...urge...to..fire the political flames!!!!!....

Because this actually is a potentially awesome thing!
Now lets see if they can knock the hardware prices back down to make it acessible too =P
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Show all comments (18)
Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 5 years ago
Wow...colour me surprised...
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I wouldn't get your hopes up Fran.
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Ray Maguire Senior Vice President, SCE UK5 years ago
A big thank you to Kirsty for having the drive and passion to deliver this!!
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Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D5 years ago
Simon, you missing me on Facebook?
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Diarmuid Murphy Developer Marketing, Microsoft5 years ago
This is great to see. Any more information on what centre and what tech they have?
Kinect, Move and Wii have great potential in physical rehabilitation.
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This is amazing stuff, and it is right on my doorstep. I will be sure to pay them a visit and see what is going on.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 5 years ago
This is great news - and good to see Cameron in support of it. Perhaps he can begin to genuinely see the positives of videogames and grant them a bit of official support. But probably not.
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Galen Tucker Owner, Convolution5 years ago
Well, I'm not a "big" studio, but I help Special Effect as best I can. Those folks are doing some fantastic work.

Cheers,

Galen
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Gavin Matheson Creative Video & Marketing Director, Big Splash Creative5 years ago
This is really good news and one that I hope to be highly beneficial to the market in focus. It would be exciting to see the gaming giants like Microsoft get involved in this. Let's watch this space.
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Yarr Rash Publisher, Igrobiz5 years ago
a bit strange article. plenty of words about how cool and important it is and nothing about what is actually in that center.
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Stephen Hands Director, 3dnative5 years ago
This is a great initiative. I'd like to make people aware of the great work the not for profit company LearnPlay Foundation does using games technologies to make a difference to a wide range of young peoples lives.

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Dave Stansfield Reviewer/Comedian 5 years ago
I'll have to keep this in mind for the release of Mortal Kombat and future GTA titles.
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Phil Morris Audio Producer 5 years ago
Re: Speaking about the games industry, he said: "It's incredibly inventive and creative and a massive provider of growth and jobs and I think that will just continue.

Yes In Canada...
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Nick Streeter Fundraiser, specialeffect5 years ago
Amazing day today for SpecialEffect, big thanks to our Vice Presidents Kirsty Payne and Johnny Minkley for all their help. If anybody from the games industry would like more detail on our work or wants to visit the centre (which includes our GamesLab and GamesRoom) please do contact nick@specialeffect.org.uk. We would love to hear from you!
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Well done Special Effect and well done all the publishers and developers who have supported you thus far. Mr Cameron asked me if there are 'any back markers that need to be helped along', for now everyone is working together, but there is always room for more.
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