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Why the industry must unite for the Livingstone-Hope Review

As government reports go, we've not been overburdened over time. It seems like an age, although just a few years, since Dr Tanya Byron charmed us all with her review on child safety in relation to the internet and videogames (and shame on the corridors of power that the one clear result - PEGI - is still languishing in limbo... but that's another issue).

This time around the importance for the games industry is arguably even greater, so it's with great relief that so far the response to the Livingstone-Hope Review has been altogether positive. After all, it's only really slightly dramatic to bill this as a key battle in the UK development industry's fight for survival.

The content of the Review has by now been seen by many - and hopefully the conclusions will be largely in sync with the report's authors: that the recommendations are pretty much doable without the reliance on new resource.

Fundamentally, for the games side of things at least, the report's foundation has, with Ian Livingstone, a basis in pragmatism and understanding of what's needed - and thankfully an ease of communication that makes this particular government report a pretty easy read. "Lots of pictures," as he joked on-stage at the report's launch earlier.

But the big question is: Will the recommendations be implemented? After all, regardless of the amount of time and effort put in by Livingstone and Hope (and officials at NESTA), it's of little use if they don't prompt change.

Partly, and most remotely you feel, we're at the mercy of government for those recommendations dealing with changes to the education system. Less PowerPoint and Excel, went the refrain, and more actual computer science - and while art and science subjects have traditionally been kept apart, why it's crucial for them to mix.

But those aside, there is genuine confidence that most in the games business see the challenges ahead and understand why the recommendations have been made - and even in the short time since the report was released, Livingstone told me that he's been blown away by the response.

"I think I can say I was even overwhelmed by the support from the industry - not just from the trade bodies, but from the developers and publishers as well - saying that they want to help, that they want to offer placements for students, there was an offer of money, or staff to try and put our recommendations into effect quite early on," he said.

"It's great that everyone's rallying round the cause to do something great, which plays to the strengths of this country. We are the most creative nation in the world, in my opinion, and we are very good at high-tech.

"But it also demonstrates the frustration that's existed - here we have a ridiculous situation where we've got high levels of graduate unemployment; at the same time our industry and the visual FX industry are crying out for employees with the right skills. There's a total mismatch between what's coming out of universities and what people want.

"So I hope this report galvanises people to actually make something happen," he added.

Naturally, one of the biggest challenges is coming up with a plan that can survive the inherently long-term view that's needed. Changes made to education today might not yield results in terms of better-skilled graduates for another five years at least - and long-termism isn't popular in a difficult economic climate or an industry that has a reputation for evolving at light speed.

"I believe the recommendations in the report are too good to ignore," responds Livingstone. "I'm a games-maker myself - we've made recommendations that are doable by relocating existing resource and pointing out glaring inadequacies in the education system... and the failure of people to have joined-up thinking from education, industry and government.

"What we're recommending, to my mind, is actually common sense - and it's hard for people to say no to."

During the presentation of the Review a fantastic video was shown containing interview snippets from all major stakeholders in industry and education - but most fascinating were those comments made by ten year-old students actually learning through games already.

It's a video that everybody should see - as a whole it's inspiring and eye-opening, and I hope that we'll be able to add it to the site one day. Currently it's a problem about rights, regarding some of the clips used from films and games, but it showcases an array of major pieces of creative achievement made solely in the UK.

Certain sectors are working to make it public already - and I sincerely hope they're successful, because if companies in the games and film creative industries aren't able to come together and see the greater good on this small issue, there are bigger battles ahead...

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Phil Elliott

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