Government Invests £2.5m In Home Of Grand Theft Auto


The government is investing in the computer games industry, believing it to be an important source of future UK jobs

Digital Britain minister Stephen Timms has announced £2.5 million in funding for Abertay University where the controversial Grand Theft Auto game was originally conceived.

The investment will help with the expansion of Abertay’s computer games centre of excellence – to based in Manchester – which could help create 30 new companies and assist 80 others, the government said in a statement this week. The investment should also “stimulate” 400 new jobs across the UK, the government believes.

“Scotland has rich heritage when it comes to computer games. Some of the world’s most iconic games – like Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings – have been developed around Dundee,” Timms said. “This new investment will strengthen Abertay University as a centre of excellence for the games industry. Investing now means that firms can start to build and grow for the future.”

According to government figures the UK is the fourth largest producer of computer games in the world and the largest in Europe. “Last year the UK games market generated £3.31 billion for the economy, with video games software sales accounting for £1.621 billion,” the government stated.

Rockstar North, developer of Lemmings and the Grand Theft Auto series was founded in Dundee as DMA Design by David Jones, an undergraduate of the University of Abertay Dundee, the University’s website claims. But despite its success, the Grand Theft Auto series has attracted – and courted – controversy over its casual violence and depiction of crime.

As part of his visit to Abertay, Timms also met finalists from the University who have entered the international “Dare to be Digital” competition, where students from across the UK work in teams of five for 10 weeks to come up with ideas for new games and then take the ideas through the entire design process.

According to the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was one of the most successful games of 2009 grossing more than £67 million in its first week of sales. “The phenomenal success of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was undoubtedly one of the leading entertainment stories of year and firmly established videogames as one of the leading forms of entertainment in the UK,” said Michael Rawlinson, Director General, Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA) in January this year.

Last November, the GCHQ arm of Britain’s intelligence services announced plans to run an advertising campaign within Xbox Live online games in order to attract suitable people to its ranks.

Sales of video game hardware and software remained sluggish in the United States, as overall sales fell 13 percent in January to $1.17 billion (£747m), compared with the same period last year, reported the NPD Group earlier this month.

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