#oneaday 2: Time Bandits

So I have signed up to the #oneaday project, thus meaning that I will have a monkey on my back forcing me to write a  blog post each and every day in 2011. Already I am late. Late to sign up (late on the evening of New Year’s Day) and only got my first posting in today, which ended up being a rambling mess yet again focused on the woes of our national sport, Association Football or soccer, depending on how you refer to it.

So this is post #2 of 2011 and I thought I would give some context to my love of computer and video games, or more specifically for the industry that is computer and video games, now broadening into interactive entertainment and beyond. I onne of my day jobs, I work with some very talented people ( I work with talented people in all my jobs, ahem) who are responsible for running the UK, or sometimes a bigger clutch of  ‘territories’,  of many of the world’s finest computer and video games companies. I have worked within this group on a purely voluntary basis without any sort of financial reward  for 10 years now  and I must say I have loved every single day of it. I reckon I put in a day or two a week for this organisation and cause, so it adds up to about 500 days work thus far. That feels like a lot, yet does not really seem to add up. I mean 500 days??? What did we do and where did the time go?

In short, this job revolves around a good deal of politics, dealing with politicians and those who serve them. Trying to define this task I would say it is sort of   ‘dealing with industry needs within a political context and ensuring proper representation and understanding of what we do amongst those who are chosen to govern us’. Snappy eh? Even the definition is clumsy and rambling, which kind of gives you a clue as to the monumental task we all face. Basically, the computer and video games industry makes games (and more) that millions of UK citizens, buy, borrow, rent (legally or otherwise)  and above all enjoy. But just like other creative industries before us, such as film, TV and recorded music, we just don’t get taken that seriously. Time and time again we are seen to be facile  by the media and government alike. We have been and to some extent, still are, a great British success story. We combine art and science in a pretty unique way and welcome scholars of English, design, graphics, music, physics and mathematics equally. In a ever more globalised and competitive market place, our elected leaders are flapping around wondering what Britain (or the UK depending on what moniker you prefer) will do for a  living as we head into a new decade.

Fascination with financial services seemed to have infected and  influenced policy in the last 20 years, indeed much of our best mathematical and scientific talent were recruited by the investment banking industry to the detriment of our engineering, software, technical and creative industries. The whole rotten game proved to have a fatal bug a couple of years back, and there was much talk of diversification spouted by the poiticians of all colours and ideologies. Indeed the investment banking industry bore a quirky little sideline in the noughties, one which many of us never really understood. Hedge funds. I remember thinking that these companies seemed to relish and profit from failure. Failure of other companies, currencies, commodities and in some cases nation states. Indeed some of us would question if  this industry was creative at all or simply destructive. It felt like the global financial crisis of 2008 was the wake up call for the capitalist world. At last those that governed started to talk about the creative industries with some passion.

But the allure of the filthy lucre seems to have prevailed yet again. Just as the endemic and short term greed present within some parts of the financial services industry, was outed, we seemeed to have lurched back into that dark, smelly place. Arts funding is slashed, tax breaks for the video games industry were withdrawn without a shot being fired either way and now we have to start all over again and figure out how and if the UK is a good place to make interactive entertainmen, after all it seems to be a place that loves to consume it.

Sometimes you forget the treacle. It is sweet , dark, uber rich and above all prevents you moving very  fast anywhere. No wonder that this treacle can kill. It killed at least 500 days of my life and counting.

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