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Nick Poole

Nick Poole, CEO, UKIE

Video games are shaping UK mainstream culture while research suggests benefits in literacy, empathy and mental health. They enrich the economy and creative landscape while prioritising player safety.

When Scottish indie developer Sad Owl Studios won ‘Best British Game’ at the 2024 BAFTA Awards for their game ‘Viewfinder’, it marked a significant moment in UK video games. The game combines stunning visuals, compelling storytelling and mechanics into an entirely new cultural experience.

Video games cultural crossover

Video games are big business in the UK; we spent £7.8 billion on games and related activities in 2023–24. However, the real story is how games are crossing over into ‘mainstream’ culture, influencing film, TV and even sports.

Take, for example, the success of Netflix’s ‘Fallout’ series, which attracted 65 million viewers in a fortnight, or the way that HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’ deals sensitively with themes of love, loss and LGBTQ+ identity. Over 60% of UK adults and 91% of young people aged 3–15 regularly play games.1

Enriching our understanding

Research produced by the National Literacy Trust2 shows that playing video games helps develop creativity, literacy and empathy. Two-thirds of players (65%) said that games helped them imagine what it would be like to experience the world through someone else’s eyes.

Elsewhere, the landmark ‘Power of Play’ research3 has shown the positive mental and emotional benefits of playing games for creativity, problem-solving and collaboration skills.

Playing video games helps develop
creativity, literacy and empathy.

UK success in video games creativity

Video games are a new creative medium at the intersection of art and technology. It’s a medium in which the UK leads the world — partly because it draws on our great traditions of creativity and pushing the boundaries of new technology.

British video games are a ‘force multiplier’ for the wider creative industries, too. Spending on media and intellectual property that originated in games rose to more than half a billion in 2023.

Maintaining safety and growth

The video games and interactive entertainment industry understands that with this new-found cultural impact comes a responsibility to help players stay safe. Working with the global industry, the UK is leading the way in areas such as privacy and ‘safety by default’ for younger players.

With a new generation of talented developers, exciting new games and strong global exports, the UK video games industry is set to make a powerful contribution to the UK economy and our creative and cultural lives.

[1] More than 60% of people in UK play games – report – The Creative Industries

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