The UK's creative and digital industries are booming. Contributing 6% to the UK's GDP and employing almost four million people, Britain is steaming ahead and it is safe to say that this boom will continue into the foreseeable future.
Therefore, the Blueprint for Growth report into the video games sector, published by UKIE, comes at a pivotal time for the sector. It highlights many of the challenges facing the industry and sets out a number of recommendations to help it contribute an extra £1bn annually to the UK economy.
Many of the report's recommendations about funding, regional growth and taxation are sensible and long overdue. However, given that this is essentially a graduate industry (86% of people working in video game design have a degree), points on the relationship with universities are conspicuous in their absence.
Escape Studios' own research into the state of the video games industry has found that only 5% of graduates working in video games design studied the course at degree level; far more studied computer science. This is of course not necessarily a bad thing, however to ensure the industry's continued success we need a to nurture a supply of tech savvy creative visionaries - equally at home working on the bigger picture as they are behind a screen.
We also cannot ignore the fact that the UK video games sector is not immune from the graduate skills shortages that have hit other, less niche, industries. The majority of employers we speak with expect their graduate employees to have the creative, technical and the soft skills needed to succeed from day one and higher education's challenge is to work out how to provide this.
We have just designed a suite of new degrees for Escape Studios that address these very issues and it is clear having done this that the future success of the video games industry depends on employer engagement in the education process right from the word go as only employers know what they really need from the talent pipeline.
Balancing the economic needs of employers with the duty we owe to our students to design an interesting course in an environment that provides the technical, creative and intellectual skills expected of a degree is not an easy task. However it is what we must do if we are to ensure that the UK's video games sector, and the creative industries more broadly, are to continue to thrive.