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Industry support is "number one priority" - Vaizey

Tory Shadow Arts minister claims measures to level playing field are "a given" if they win election

Shadow Arts minister Ed Vaizey MP has restated his claim that a Tory government would look very seriously at fiscal measures to support the UK videogames industry during a panel session which took place today at the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).

The event, entitled Playing the Game, marked the release of a new report into the state of games development in the UK, with Vaizey stressing the the importance of the industry to the country's business landscape.

"I think that the videogames industry, in terms of the political world, has come an enormous distance," he said. "When people like Richard Wilson and ELSPA came to see me, they described this industry which is a politician's dream, and I couldn't understand why it wasn't more prominent...and the only way we heard about it was when Keith Vaz raised it in a motion about serial killers."

He cited work by Tom Watson, Labour MP, as another reason for the new-found momentum, having set up a Facebook group with the intention of gathering greater voter feedback on the way that games were treated by society, the mainstream press and the government.

Vaizey went on to explain the extent of his support for measures that could benefit developers in the UK, but first applied the caveat of the overall economic situation that his party could inherit if victorious in a May election.

"We are... in a very difficult economic environment," he said. "It would be beyond my pay grade, as it were, to suggest what the economic situation will look like after the election, and what measures we'd need to take to get back on track.

"But the most important things to help the videogames industry would be those things that will help any business, and that's to tackle the deficit, get public spending under control and reduce burdens on business such as tax and regulation.

He went on to underline the constraints on what he was able to commit to, or "put down on paper," but did claim he was "very sympathetic" on the subject of tax breaks - particularly recognising that "talent is bleeding" to other countries which offer more favourable terms.

"You are competing against countries that are giving active fiscal support to the videogames industry, and I think it's a given that you have to put something in place to, quite frankly, level the playing field - so it is my absolutely number one priority, should we win the general election."

The news will be welcome to those people that have long been lobbying for greater recognition of the need for the government to act, despite there still being some distance between comments made in the build-up to an election and solid action thereafter.

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