I often try to keep my politics and my career in game design completely separate, but given the scale of the EU referendum and the effect it may have on the industry, I thought it was about time to bring the two together. On Friday I set out a general case for remaining in the EU, but what has the EU ever done for the games industry? Here’s a rundown of a few reasons I think the UK’s games industry is better off with the support of the European Union:
More Employment Options
The European Union’s freedom of movement laws don’t just apply to workers who want to come to the UK, British citizens can take advantage and work in any of the other 27 EU member states. The video games industry is still growing, and it can be hard to find work in your local area. The EU opens up a whole new jobs market for British game developers.3 & 4
Better Working Conditions
The games industry is infamous for its tight deadlines, cramming and unpaid overtime. We all do our part, because we love what we do, and the nature of the industry means that bugs will need fixing, builds will need testing, and games need to be published on time to make it all worth while. However, it’s still good to know that the EU has your back when it comes to working conditions. The EU’s Working Time Directive1 caps working hours at an average of 48 hours a week (including overtime), guarantees sufficient daily and weekly rest periods, and ensures that businesses provide at least 4 weeks of paid holiday per year. We can’t guarantee that our national government will uphold these rules if we leave the EU.2
Funding For Video Games
The EU has funding projects for all kinds of industries, video games included. The “Creative Europe” project5 provides funding to support the development of video games that “enhance European cultural identity and heritage” (among other things)6. UKIE reported in August 2015 that companies in the UK had received more funding from this project than any other EU country (€547,000).7 While the project does also apply to several non-EU states, it’s clear from the list of successful projects that companies in EU states tend to receive more money than those outside of the EU.
Making The Industry Better For Creators & Consumers
At the end of 2015 the European Commission proposed a new directive which is currently being debated by the European Council. The directive is part of a range of improvements proposed for the “Digital Single Market” including items like downloadable games and their in-app purchases.8 & 9
The directive strengthens consumer rights when buying digital goods, forcing the games industry to step up product quality, but is also predicted to boost consumption of digital products across the EU by €18 billion, and by €4.6 billion in the UK alone.10 & 11
The directive still needs to pass various stages of the law-making process, and may be amended by the European Parliament, but its proposal shows that the EU is committed to taking the rise of digital content seriously.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of good things the EU can do for us. Check out my post on the broader benefits of remaining in the EU for more arguments that kind of cross over into the games industry (being greener counts, if you want clean air to breathe while you develop games :P). I’m also aware that there are many things the EU could be doing better, but on balance I hope you’ll join me in voting to remain in the EU on June 23rd for a better games industry and a stronger Britain in Europe.
1. Information on the Working Time Directive
2. Telegraph: Cameron to opt out of EU work laws
4. GamesIndustry.biz European Job Listings
5. EU “Creative Europe” hub for video games development
6. EU “Creative Europe” Funding Information
7. UKIE News: UK takes biggest share of “Creative Europe” funding
8. UKIE News: Digital Single Market
9. UKIE News: Proposed European Directive for the Games Industry
10. European Commission: Predicted effect of directive on UK economy
11. EUR-Lex: Information on the EU directive