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Watson urges action on "UK Games Council"

Being part of government "machinery" would benefit "long term interests" of games industry, says MP

Tom Watson, the Labour MP and self-styled advocate of the games industry in UK parliament, has called on ELSPA and TIGA to begin "forming an idea" of a UK Games Council that would "run along the lines of the UK Film Council" and ensure government can no longer "ignore the games industry".

Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz in a wide-ranging interview, Watson - whose Gamers' Voice Facebook group has attracted over 15,000 members - outlined his vision for "locking the games industry into the machinery of government," so it could take a "wider strategic look" instead of embroiling itself in "small tactical campaigns" like age ratings and tax breaks.

"We can really think about what the long term interests are for the industry: skills, training, job, publishing, copyright," explained the MP for West Bromwich East. "And a Games Council would mean that the government can't ignore the games industry. It's part of the machinery. I'd like to see the government go down that route - I don't know whether they will yet, but I think it would benefit the industry and I think it would benefit the understanding of the industry by government."

While admitting that a UK Games Council was "only just sketched out as an idea", he said he would "like to see TIGA and ELSPA working collaboratively together" on it now. "If they could put some meat on the bone on this in the next few months they could really motor with this stuff."

He added: "It would be good to get something in place before the general election; it would certainly be good to get both parties [Labour and the Conservatives] committed to that in the manifestos for the general election so they can move quite quickly after it."

Meanwhile, on the subject of games classification, Watson said he was "pretty certain" the PEGI system – as agreed upon in the aftermath of the Byron Review – would "go through" before next year's general election.

"If there're clauses in the new Digital Economy Bill, which is going to be debated in the House of Lords in a couple of weeks' time, that should get to the House of Commons in February and PEGI will be the system that's adopted," he explained.

In the meantime, Watson promised to continue pushing Gamers' Voice, which he hopes will become "the equivalent in gaming of what the Football Supporters' Association is in football", giving "a platform to ordinary people who are going out there and just love playing games."

The first part of the interview with Tom Watson, which part of this text is taken from, is now live.

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Johnny Minkley


Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.

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