Industry organisations in the UK #1


Trade organisations are peculiar entities. They exist on the basis that the members have sufficient problems in common to overcome their natural competitive attitudes towards each other. I was involved in setting up the first UK microcomputer trade body, the Computer Retailer’s Association, in the late 1970s and in the 2000s I was the Codemasters contact with ELSPA working with them on issues such as political lobbying and anti piracy.

ELSPA is peculiar in that it isn’t what it says it is. It isn’t the European Leisure Software Publisher’s Association. Firstly because it is British based and British in it’s actions and secondly because many of it’s members aren’t European, they are American and Japanese. The main business that ELSPA concerns itself with are political lobbying and anti piracy.

Near to whereI live is Wellesbourne Market, one of the largest open air markets in Britain. It is an Aladdin’s Den of counterfeit, fake products. Louis Vuitton bags, Armani jeans, Gillette razors, Gibbs toothpaste, Chanel cosmetics, music CDs and film DVDs. You would wonder what trading standards are up to, the market would be less than half the size if it only sold legitimate goods. Yet in all the times I have been there I have never, once, seen a counterfeit computer game. This is testament the excellence of the ELSPA anti piracy unit when it comes to physical piracy. When it comes to online anti piracy, however, they don’t even scratch the surface.

The political lobbying is something they seem more prepared to boast about. They say they spoke to X and told them Y. But they are wasting their time because the current government and the opposition do not understand games. This lack of understanding manifests itself in something far worse than antipathy. Where ELSPA should be spending their time is in getting the right public perceptions and attitudes. Public opinions are something that politicians have far more respect for than lobbying trade organisations.

The big problem in Britain is that most print and broadcast media are massively under-serving their customers when it comes to computer games. They haven’t kept up with reality. They still think that games are played by a small minority of adolescent geeky schoolboys. They don’t realise that gaming is now mainstream and that their customers are gamers. The Queen like to play with a Wii. It is about time someone told them and it is ELSPA who should be doing that job.

It is a scandal that the culture sections of most print and broadcast media do not cover games. They cover theatre, ballet, opera, television and film. But why not games? Games are now a far bigger part of popular culture than most of what they do cover. Yet they continue to fail their readers and ELSPA fail to prevent this. It is scandalous that the BBC still report video gaming under technology.

Solve the media problem and you solve the political problem. It is obvious really.


  1. Interest rates aren’t set by the government, they are set by an independent committee and the last time that met it left the rates unchanged.
    A low value pound will not compensate for the huge benefits that game developers receive in Canada, nor will it make up for the opressive attitude of Brown’s Government towards our industry.

    And this thread is about trade bodies, it is not there for you to shill your blog on a slight pretext.

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