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UKIE calls on Government to help Britain become an “eSports powerhouse”

Trade body outlines ambitions to help UK sector catch up with international rivals

Trade body UKIE has issued a number of recommendations to Government in an effort to boost Britain's slow-moving eSports scene.

The firm debuted its whitepaper at an event last night at the Gfinity eSports Arena in London, and told attendees that although eSports is growing in the UK, it currently lags behind the rest of the world.

Within the paper, UKIE states that "the UK needs a strategy to attract big international tournaments and we need Westminster and local government to understand and support the sector." The body added that a thriving eSports sector would "create jobs and make a clear statement about the UK's ambition to be a world leader in technology, innovation, digital trade and creative industries".

Its recommendations included:

  • eSports companies should work with government departments to create a 'unified strategy' and to develop appealing investment opportunities for international tournament holders, IP owners and brands. This includes working with the Department for International Trade and local government bodies.
  • As part of the UK eSports scene's need to "speak with a clear voice", the whitepaper suggests that the sector could co-ordinate itself via the formation of the UK eSports Council where all major organisations and expert individuals to share information and best practices.
  • Broadband was a big focus. Veronique Lallier of High-Rez Studios told attendees that the UK's internet infrastructure is not good enough. The report states that fast internet is the "lifeblood of eSports." UKIE says that Government should continue its aim to get 2MB/s broadband to 95 percent of the UK population, but observes that South Korea has an average connection speed of more than 26MB/s. The UK government has already pledged over 1bn to rolling out super-fast broadband and to introduce 5G into Britain at last week's Autumn statement. A move welcomed by UKIE.
  • To monitor the success and growth of eSports, the eSports industry will need to be considered a separate sector within the Government's various business codes (or SIC codes, as they're known). This will enable the Government to track the size of the market, its employment rates and its financial benefits.
  • Linked to the recent concerns around Brexit, UKIE has asked Government to consider eSports businesses when it comes to debates around skills and immigration. It will be beneficial to consider how eSports roles can be better integrated into existing Tier 1 and 2 Visa applications to ensure access to talent. The whitepaper report states: "eSports players and other professionals therefore need to be recognised as a highly skilled and inclusive profession and the UK's immigration system must not place barriers for players competing in UK-based tournaments or when they wish to base themselves in this country."
  • Education was another area that needs improving, something acknowledged during the panel at last night's event - including by Team Dignitas manager Michael 'Odee' O'dell. UKIE suggests implementing eSports modules into the current games courses offered by schools and universities, backed by a skills review of what is required to work within this industry. UKIE says that hosting and streaming live-events alone requires commentators, online community moderators, analytics experts, network engineers and audio visual producers amongst others, plus broadcasting and production knowledge.
  • This one is more targeted at eSports companies than Government. UKIE stressed the importance in promoting and inspiring more diverse participation within eSports. The firm suggests its own Digital Schoolhouse programme as a means to encourage diverse participation and audiences into the market. UKIE identifies a general lack of women in the eSports business, but it's not just women, UKIE wants to encourage "more people from diverse backgrounds to consider esports as career or as players or professionals."
  • The final suggestion was to create 15 eSports UK ambassadors to promote eSports in the UK and internationally, and it to feature a diverse mix of players, developers, publishers and event organisers.

"For some time, we have been proposing that eSports in the UK could be a high value opportunity for the economy, provided the right infrastructure and support is in place so we can compete at a global level," said UKIE CEO Dr Jo Twist.

"Combining industry commitment with political and practical support both nationally and locally, collectively promoting the sector, and supporting the grassroots eSports movement across the country, we can make the UK the leading global destination for eSports."

To read the full paper, click here.

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