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Industry PR must improve further, says Morris

Audiomotion MD has seen changes in recent years, but believes there's more to be done

Audiomotion MD Mick Morris has told GamesIndustry.biz that although the industry has managed to improve its perception in recent years - particularly among MPs - he still feels there's more work to be done to help move the general public on from stigmatising games with past controversies.

Morris first discussed the matter in late 2009, referencing the reporting of the Stefan Pakeerah murder which was incorrectly linked to Rockstar's Manhunt game, as well as the NHS campaign for Change4Life that featured a boy playing a games console and the slogan: "Risk an early death, just do nothing."

He questioned at the time whether or not the trade bodies - then ELSPA and TIGA - were being pro-active enough in changing perceptions of video games, saying: "It's all very well having a Manhunt fiasco, ill-informed and incorrect as the reporting actually was - at that point we trot out somebody to make a comment, but should those trade bodies be more proactive and be doing a bit more about the good side of the industry... and not just shouting about tax credits? Although I do think that's important."

But speaking last month Morris acknowledged that improvements had been made, particularly within the halls of government.

"Since my rant the last time, I think TIGA and UKIE have taken some steps to try and change that perception," he said. "I find it amusing - but really encouraging - to see high profile MPs playing Wii Sports and keen to be photographed messing around with Wii controllers. It's a step in the right direction.

"Companies like Special Effect, and the fact that David Cameron - it's his constituency anyway - but the fact that he turns up to open the new premises is a big turning point for us. The stuff that those guys are doing is incredible, it really is fantastic."

However, said Morris, the industry's image to the wider public is still defined by certain negative stereotypes.

"I think we still need to PR ourselves better. There's a big movement at the minute called Play for Japan - all the big publishers are putting up mega items for auction and all that money's going to the Japanese.

"We need to make more of the fact that there are positives in the industry, and we are doing positive things. And forget about hookers in GTA," he added.

Meanwhile, speaking on the government's Budget statement, he said he hoped the R&D tax credits expansion - which TIGA estimates could benefit games companies to the tune of £7 million - would be a positive step, but felt that further political progress could stall until the video games business boasted more powerful lobbyists, citing film industry proponent Lord Puttnam as a primary example.

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