Scotland’s video game industry has the potential to outstrip the worth of North Sea oil, according to one Scottish developer.
Representatives of the Scottish game industry made the case for better investment and support at a government meeting this week, reports the BBC. Chris Van der Kuyl, the chairman of 4J Studios — the small Scottish studio that ported the insanely popular block-builder Minecraft to consoles — appealed directly to members of parliament to take the potential of the game industry seriously, saying it could make the oil industry look like “a drop in the ocean.”
The global video game market is worth $91.5 billion this year, and Scottish studios like Rockstar North, the creator of the Grand Theft Auto series, are a big part of the industry. But Van der Kuyl warned the assembled politicians, gathered to hear evidence about the country’s creative industries, that current immigration policies and a need for better support structures and investment are holding back growth. Van der Kuyl’s claim — comparing the video game industry to an oil industry that’s reportedly worth $54 billion across the entire U.K. economy — was bold, but gaming is an extremely fast-growing sector of many global economies.
“We’re living in a time where the pace of change has never been faster, and nowhere more so than in our sector,” said Van der Kuyl. “The increased rate of change in things like virtual reality and augmented reality, which is just around the corner now, means the growth potential for this industry is not 5 or 10 percent a year, it’s hundreds of percent. The opportunity is huge.
“If there was ever a time to get serious about this industry, this is it. If we let this opportunity pass by, others will take it, and Scotland will languish.”
Dr. Jo Twist, the chief executive officer of trade body U.K. Interactive Entertainment, explained that current immigration policies were potentially impacting Scotland’s ability to recruit industry talent from overseas.
“The current climate around immigration debates is potentially very damaging to our ability to attract overseas talent,” she said. “We must be able to continue to attract overseas talent while we are fixing our own homegrown talent pipeline in order to remain internationally competitive.”