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UK game coders form trade body

Cue endless 'paper Tiga' puns in the games rags...

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The Government today attempted to stress its computer culture credentials by sending e-minister Patricia Hewitt along to the launch of a trade organisation for British games developers.

Dubbed Tiga, the non-acronymic shorthand for the Independent Games Developers Association, the body was by formed by well-known small games company bosses - including Argonaut's Jez San and Elixir's Demis Hassabis - to provide support to fellow coders in an industry dominated by big name publishers like Eidos, Electronics Arts and Infogrames.

One of its stated aims is to lobby government for "support and assistance", so it was handy that the e-Minster was around to show how much Blair and co. supports the industry.

"The UK games development industry is expanding and maturing into a key sector in the economy. We have a world-class reputation as a creative and technical centre of excellence in games development," she said.

That's not quite the commitment to "tax breaks similar to those available to the UK film industry", that Tiga is looking for. "Bigger than Hollywood," is one way Tiga describes itself. The games biz sure is. Given how vastly more lucrative the games business compared to the movie industry, it's questionable whether they really need such support, but hey, there's no harm asking.

Microsoft's European Xbox chief, Sandy Duncan, was on hand to give the Beast of Redmond's blessing to the venture. "Developers are, by their nature, creative people and the risks they take day to day should be creative rather than commercial," he said.

All those games developers starving in garrets, struggling to get their art seen by the public will no doubt be pleased with that vote of support. Provided, of course, they're writing stuff for Xbox...

Another Tiga aim is to "represent the sector in a positive light to government and the public", the next time a senior public figure criticises game violence or a bunch of 14-year-old American boys shoot each other.

Still, Tiga should help persuade the wider commercial world that the games business is a significant one, something often hidden by the higher profiles of less lucrative industries, such as movies and music. Britain has been a hotbed of good games development since the early 80s, and it's about time the coders themselves - as opposed to the publishers, who already have the European Leisure Software Publishers Association to watch out for them - began to promote their efforts. ®

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