In celebration of Guildford's thriving global industry that many local residents aren't aware of

November 12, 2020 6:54 PM
By Zoe Franklin

Globally the value of the gaming industry is approximately $150 billion. It is an industry that has seen huge growth over the last decade and this year, with Covid having resulted in so many more of us working from home and increasing our gaming and spending, the increase in value will likely be more significant. Here in the UK, the industry's value is estimated to be £5.4 billion.

As the Hollywood of the UK gaming industry, Guildford is making a significant mark on this global industry. Our town is the home to some of the world's biggest video games companies: Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Epic Games and Sony, to name but a few. We are also home to many smaller, independent studios who are creating innovative, breakthrough successes of their own year on year.

Fortnite

Photo by Vlad Gorshkov on Unsplash

Guildford-based companies are responsible for games ranging from the Burnout series and Need for Speed to No Man's Sky, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Populous, Theme Park & Theme Hospital and Little Big Planet. Also, locally-based Epic Games is the developer of probably the most well-known survival game on the planet, Fortnite; a game that, as a parent of two enthusiastic young gamers, has become a regular dinner-time conversation topic and saved my (and their) sanity during the lockdown as they used it as a 'virtual playground' to meet, play and socialise with friends whom they could not meet in person.

I don't think that Guildford's success as a hub for the industry will come as a surprise to anyone who knows something of the town's history. After all, the inventor of software herself, Ada Lovelace, lived just five miles away in Horsley and Alan Turing also called Guildford home.

In more modern times Peter Molyneux started Bullfrog Productions which helped kick start the Guildford Games industry we see today. This continued to grow thanks to its proximity to London, global transport links and university amongst other things, Guildford has seen more and more high tech companies founded here or relocated to the town. However, we need to recognize the potential challenges ahead for the games industry and tech companies more widely. Brexit and changes to immigration rules, combined with COVID, has the potential to create a serious issue around accessing the talent and expertise needed by companies to continue to grow and succeed in a global market. The Liberal Democrats and I recognise this and it is one of the many reasons why I have fought so hard to prevent a damaging no-deal Brexit.

Guildford Games FestivalKnowing the huge value that the games industry in Guildford brings to our local economy, I am very proud of the fact that the Liberal Democrats as a party also understands the immense cultural and financial contribution it makes. This is clear in policy we included in our 2019 General Election manifesto where we pledged the following:

  • That every adult would receive a £10,000 grant to put towards training to skill them for the future ahead
  • That we would continue full support for the Creative Industries Council
  • That we would reform the British Business Bank's support for venture capital funds in order to provide investment for UK tech start-ups

All of these would provide support and opportunity for the industry and enable it to continue to thrive.

The Liberal Democrats and I, both locally and nationally, are committed to supporting the gaming industry as it continues to grow and make its mark internationally, and I want to take the opportunity to wish everyone attending the Guildford Games Festival tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday a great conference and continued success in 2020 and the years to come.

12th November 2020

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