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TIGA's Richard Wilson

The organisation's CEO outlines the differences with UKIE, and plans for the future

Since ELSPA rebranded to UKIE earlier this month - and expanded its remit to cover the whole of the videogames business as opposed to just the publishers, some questions have been raised as to TIGA's response, and whether or not there's room enough for two trade associations which, on the surface, seem to cover similar ground.

Here, TIGA CEO Dr Richard Wilson outlines just what he sees as the crucial differences between the two organisations, and gives us a sense of how he sees TIGA expand and develop in the future. Following on from UKIE's launch of a wider remit - which covers the development sector - how do you feel the two organisations differ, to warrant two trade bodies in the UK?
Richard Wilson

It's not unusual for there to be more than one trade association in a particular economic sector. There are about 38 different institutions in the engineering sector, 12 associations in the ceramics sector and two in the funeral and bereavement sector. The number of associations is not the issue. What matters is whether a trade association is delivering value for its membership, the sector and the wider UK economy.

There are four crucial differences between TIGA and UKIE, formerly known as ELSPA. Firstly, TIGA's membership consists overwhelmingly of UK owned businesses and organisations. Conversely, over 80 per cent of UKIE's membership are foreign-owned and -controlled businesses.

Secondly, TIGA's constituency is based on the creative content creators of the industry, UKIE's constituency are publishers. I am pleased to say that TIGA now represents over 160 organisations across the UK, including established independent developers, publisher owned studios, small indie-studios, start-ups and creative agencies.

We also represent games publishers, art, audio and motion capture specialists as well as law firms, accountancy firms and other service providers. We additionally have 25 education providers as members, from colleges and universities to distance learning providers and training specialists. TIGA truly represents the whole spectrum of talented companies and organisations that make up the UK games industry.

Thirdly, TIGA exists to serve the interests of the UK games industry. At TIGA we focus on helping our UK members successfully compete: hence our campaigns for a tax break for games development and improvements in education and skills; and our provision of services such as trade support, self-publishing advice, and our networking and creative industry switch programme. Conversely, UKIE is naturally more interested in issues such as age ratings and piracy matters as befits a publisher trade association.

Fourthly, TIGA is a highly effective organisation. We are the only trade association in the UK to have consistently and wholeheartedly led the campaign for Games Tax Relief and to have changed Labour and SNP policy in the process.

We are the trade association that has taken education and skills seriously. We collect quality information to enable our membership to benchmark their investment in workforce development, compare their staff qualification attainment levels and assess their involvement with educational institutions against industry norms.

We carry out research in the field of education and training in order to inform its public policy objectives. Our indefatigable education campaigning has helped lead to a review of education and skills for the games industry.

TIGA is the voice of the games industry as far as the media and politicians are concerned: TIGA has been interviewed on the BBC and Sky and we have been singled out for praise by leading politicians in both the Westminster and Holyrood Parliaments.

TIGA's services are making a difference for our members: our trade support work is helping developers do business overseas, our networking events are bringing people in the industry together and our Creative Industry Switch programme is creating business opportunities for developers with other business sectors.

There is much more to do, but TIGA is on the right tracks: we were named Trade Association of the Year 2010 by the Trade Association Forum and we have recently been named a finalist in the Chartered Management Institute's Awards in the category of Best Organisation of the Year Award (SME).

So - there are important differences between TIGA and UKIE. The fundamental difference is that TIGA is the voice for UK-owned and -controlled creative content creators, while UKIE is the trade association for foreign-owned publishers.

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