A united games industry stands a better chance at getting the UK government on side as we head into the uncharted territory of a post-Brexit Britain.
This is the message from UKIE CEO Jo Twist, whose comments follow our report on the worries various games professionals expressed during her team's Westminster Games Day last month.
While the industry has already proven it can collaborate on important matters, she is keen to see more studios and service firms get involved in lobbying for additional support from the government, whether that is more funding for new businesses or better initiatives to train and retain fresh talent.
"The most effective and most important thing for the industry to do is realise that we are better and stronger united: collaboration and sharing of information is key," Twist tells GamesIndustry.biz. "Government is going to be pulled in many directions with a lot of legislation coming up on the political agenda because of Brexit negotiations. We need to be heard coherently.
"When a large, representative body of evidence is put in front of government, it gets listened to."
She cites yesterday's news of the re-notification of video games tax relief, now extended to at least April 2023, as a prime example. Not only were tax breaks the result of a combined effort between trade bodies, developers, publishers and more, but collectively proving how beneficial they have been since being implemented has been instrumental in guaranteeing further support. The latter required case studies and various companies gathering data in order to "have the best evidence to ensure that incentives like this are retained."
Twist continues: "As the new MP for Leamington Matt Western pointed out in the Westminster Games Day skills panel discussion, in order to effectively influence policy development, we need to be visible to the policy makers.
"This means targeting MPs because they represent the people whose jobs the industry provides; the Ministers whose departments set the policies; and the civil servants who develop those policies. We have to engage across a number of fronts but in a targeted and coordinated way, with the support of the games industry, backed up with evidence, to make the strongest case possible."
The Westminster Games Day is a bi-annual initiative UKIE runs to bring the industry's interests directly to their doorstep, this year holding panel sessions within the Houses of Parliament itself. While the government's response to such efforts were disappointing going by the skills panel GamesIndustry.biz attended - where Western was the only attending MP - Twist assures that more were reached.
"Twenty-four MPs and peers, plus over 100 officials and researchers from Parliament attended across the day," she said. "The breakfast session on the importance of data had seven Parliamentarians and two civil servants, all of whom are directly involved with forthcoming data protection legislation which could have significant implications for games businesses."
While MPs are key figures to target when campaigning for more support, the UKIE CEO stresses it is also "important to note that civil servants and Parliamentary assistants to MPs have influence on opinions."
She also stresses that events such as the Westminster Games Day is "by no means the only forum through which we influence [government]", suggesting other ongoing efforts such as visits to games studios within an MP's constituency as another highly effective way to gain attention.