The future of the Scottish gaming industry was debated at a roundtable event at Abertay University in Dundee yesterday.
Ben Macpherson, Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development, attended the event where he heard first-hand from Scotland’s computer games industry – including reps from Dundee-based games design companies Ninja Kiwi and Biome Collective – about the potential impact of Brexit.
Scotland’s computer games sector employs 1,285 people, generates £98.9 million annually and recruits a significant number of highly skilled citizens from elsewhere in the EU.
Industry figures have warned that Brexit, and an end to freedom of movement, will make it more difficult to attract the staff they need.
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Macpherson said: “I met with industry leaders from the computer games industry about their concerns regarding Brexit and the end of freedom of movement and the effects it will have on them.
“They now report there has been a drop in the number of applications because of the Brexit process and the uncertainty surrounding it.
“Businesses are concerned about the number of people leaving and a lack of applications for vacancies. This is making it harder for them to satisfy their projects. It is having a big impact on how they can continue to grow and attract the best talent possible, so they can continue to hold that world-leading reputation.”
Brexit presents major challenges for more than just the Scottish gaming industry, he added, and instead affects all of the nation’s creative sectors. Therefore, he believes it is vital to understand their concerns and what initiatives each sector could benefit from.
He said: “The Scottish Government recognises the importance of the games sector to Scotland’s economy and this roundtable was an important opportunity to explore how UK immigration policies and any Brexit process could affect the industry.
“In an area like the games sector, where it is necessary to compete internationally for the best developers, designers and talent, we need migration policies that enable Scotland to maintain its strong reputation as an open, welcoming and attractive place to live and work.”
Professor Gregor White, Dean of Abertay University’s School of Design and Informatics, said: “As Europe’s leading university for computer games education, Abertay attracts some of the most talented students and academic staff in the world, so an immigration system that allows for smooth mobility is important to us as an institution.
“Having a diverse international mix on-campus highly benefits the Abertay student experience, adds value to our research and supports the quality of our teaching.”
The Scottish Government has made available support grants of up to £4,000 for businesses to help them prepare for Brexit. In the past four years, Scottish Enterprise has provided £11.5 million of financial support to some 40 games companies in Scotland.
The Scottish Government is engaging with the UK Government on the design of the UK’s future visa and immigration system, and urging the UK Government to minimise barriers for EU citizens. All of Scotland’s population growth over the next 25 years is projected to come from migration.