Tech notes

The North-East isn't just competitive - it's ahead of the game.

The North-East isn't just competitive - it's ahead of the game. That was my thought after attending the computer and video games industry's inaugural London Games Week last week.

The aim was to bring together everyone involved in the UK games industry - publishers, developers, journalists and games players alike - to discuss the state of the industry and suggest the best ways forward.

Befitting such a young, exciting industry, the week attracted several high profile speakers such as science minister Lord Sainsbury, games industry legend Peter Molyneux and Sony Entertainment Europe's vice president, Michael Denny.

Lord Sainsbury kicked things off with a positive message for those worried about the Government's attitude towards the UK games industry, which some have grumbled about in the past.

He said games and other technology-based industries are vital for the future creation of wealth and that the export value of the UK games business is worth more than the film industry, despite films currently carrying more prestige.

He was followed by Michael Denny, who said today's developers and publishers face an unprecedented battle for consumers' attention - especially against the likes of YouTube, MySpace and iPods - while suggesting the growing range of digital distribution channels (such as downloading games from the net) represent a major opportunity for the industry.

Several presentations, a Dragon's Den-style pitching event, a careers fair for games graduates and numerous buffets later, London Games Week culminated in the first BAFTA ceremony solely for video games, with the prestigious `game of the year' award going to Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter.

So, taking all this into account, where does the North-East stand in the UK's games industry right now? Are we likely to be the ones bringing home a BAFTA any time soon?

As I said earlier, I believe we're currently ahead of the game in many respects - and with the right support we can stay there. BAFTAs and more awards will come. In fact, since Gateshead-based driving game specialist Eutechnyx has previously been nominated, we're already on our way. Our region is home to a genuinely thriving games industry with over 20 successful companies. An impressive 10% of the UK's jobs in games are with North-East employers and the region has a strong pipeline of talented graduates flowing out of our universities' world-leading games courses.

Herb Kim is CEO of Codeworks, the North-East's centre of excellence for digital media and technology.

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