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UK games industry "suffers from a PR problem," says Morris

Audiomotion MD believes videogames deserves a better mainstream perception

The videogames industry in the UK is suffering from an unfairly negative perception in the eyes of the wider public in the UK, and needs to better present itself.

That's the view of Audiomotion MD Mick Morris, who told GamesIndustry.biz that while he didn't necessarily have the solution to the problem, the industry could be more responsible - and more proactive - in helping itself out.

When asked whether or not he was confident that any change in the political landscape in the UK might pave the way for more even tax incentives between film and games, he was unsure if it would make too much difference.

"I don't know - I think the industry as a whole suffers from a PR problem," he replied. "The perception of the games industry needs to change.

"I think we could be a bit more responsible as an industry - I'm not saying censorship is a good thing in any way, but perhaps we don't do ourselves any favours. There's a perception that we're mainly about violent content.

"I think on the political landscape, are the Tories just trying to score points with the games industry by saying they're going to take us more seriously should they get into power... will they do nothing when they then get into power? Or they might be genuinely serious, that we're a really important part of the creative economy that generates a lot of revenue."

But in terms of whose responsibility it is to put forward a more acceptable public face for the industry, Morris was reluctant to blame existing groups such as ELSPA and TIGA for not having put some effort in - although he did question whether or not more work might be done in advance, instead of relying on fire-fighting issues as they arise.

"I'm sure the trade bodies are playing their part to some degree, but are they being proactive?" he asked. "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 then how do they do that, how does the message come across, and what are the positives? Look at the Change4Life campaign [which linked videogames to childhood obesity and death]... I wrote to the Advertising Standards Association to say that I found that offensive, but there wasn't enough fuss made about it I don't think.

"If that's the perception, if that's what the country thinks playing games is going to lead to, however tenuous a link that is, then it comes back to us having a bit of a PR problem - but I don't know what the answers are."

The full interview with Audiomotion's Mick Morris is available now.

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Phil Elliott