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ELSPA relaunches as UKIE

Trade organisation expands remit to cover whole interactive entertainment spectrum

The UK trade organisation formerly known as ELSPA - the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association - has officially relaunched with a new identity.

UKIE, which stands for United Kingdom Interactive Entertainment, has now expanded its remit from focusing purely on the publishing sector with a new aim of representing the entire videogames business community, including developers and academia.

The move has become necessary, says director general Michael Rawlinson, because of the significant changes that the industry has undergone in the past few years.

"Fundamentally, the world of gaming has gone from boxed product on console and PC to any time, any place, anywhere," he told at the official launch event in London. "It's social, it's casual, it's mobile - and it's been demanded of us as an organisation to represent this industry.

"The old ELSPA was stuck in the past - publisher-focused rather than industry-focused - so there was a need to move on."

The key priority for the revamped organisation is to ensure for its members "the right economic, political and social environment" to allow the industry to thrive - something which Rawlinson admits will be a challenge with a wider footprint, but one he's confident UKIE can be successful with.

"[The industry] is a rich tapestry, and there is a challenge there to be able to offer something to the multi-national, huge corporations, all the way down to the micro, one- or two-man studio based out of a bedroom," he admitted.

"However, I think we can do that - we can provide a voice for those people, we can provide support at the different layers. And hopefully we can bring the disparate parts together into different policy areas and activity areas, and provide a grid of offerings that meet everybody's needs."

The organisation's expansion puts a question mark over the viability of two trade bodies existing side-by-side, but Rawlinson was diplomatic when asked whether he thought TIGA - traditionally the development community's mouthpiece - could continue in parallel.

"Our remit is to go and expand our membership, primarily into new areas of the business - online, casual, social and mobile," he said.

"We have member companies that represent development, and we see them having their own identity with UKIE as we go forward. We will continue to work with TIGA wherever appropriate and wherever we can - and would welcome the involvement of TIGA and its members in the work of UKIE.

"Let's see how that pans out going forward - I don't know - but we want to be open to dialogue and relationship with that organisation."

Among the key priorities for UKIE, according to its updated manifesto, are:

  • Building on the success of ELSPA and championing a range of issues including age ratings, education and skills, tax incentives and protecting intellectual property rights.
  • Ensuring true and accurate representation of the sector by raising awareness of the industry's positive economic contribution and the societal benefits of gaming to policy makers, regulators and consumers.
  • Acting as a public information resource, to help consumers and the media better understand gaming and interactive entertainment.
  • Supporting our members by providing them with key market information, promoting careers and offering the business support services, training and best-practice knowledge to enable them to operate most effectively.

One of the first members to sign up under the new remit was the University of Abertay Dundee, announced last week.

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