This week, the Interactive Futures event has taken place again in Leamington to celebrate and develop the contribution the video gaming industry makes to our local and national economy. Perhaps more appropriately than for many industries, the event has been virtual, but having attended when the event was held in person, I know what an impressive showcase it is, supported by the many leading and growing companies, like Codemasters based in Southam, who have helped to make Leamington and its surroundings the second largest industry cluster in the UK. As a former Minister for the digital and creative industries, I also know how important this economic activity is to our country’s prosperity. As things stand, the creative industries make a bigger contribution to our national wealth than the automotive industry does, and around £4 billion of that contribution comes from the gaming sector. It employs around 27,000 people, many of them in South Warwickshire, and it continues to grow. Over the next few years, the sector’s value and its workforce are expected to triple, and that growth is not surprising. The restrictions on our lives brought by COVID-19 have led to more appetite for virtual escapes (though it is noteworthy that the gaming sector has profited more from the last lockdown than the music or movie industries) and that is, as so often, the acceleration of an existing trend. Games are increasingly advanced and the industry requires more technical, artistic and business talent.
Among the sessions offered at Interactive Futures were those made available to pupils and students of different ages to explain the careers available in the gaming sector. I sympathise entirely with parents who think their children spend too long on video games already, but in the real world games are an industry whose expansion offers a range of highly skilled jobs of different kinds, and in which the United Kingdom is globally competitive. The pandemic we are experiencing will change our economy, but it is being reshaped more fundamentally by the capacity of technology to replace many traditional occupations. Careers working with technology, or those requiring the sort of creativity automation cannot provide, are those with strong futures, and South Warwickshire has much to offer those who want to pursue them.