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New "culturally British" test for games

Nothing to do with Nick Griffin.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

While serious journalists pore over the full thing, Eurogamer Ctrl-F'd "games" and has learned that the Digital Britain report proposes that UK games must pass a "culturally British" test to qualify for tax relief.

The news comes after a long campaign by the industry to secure tax breaks for UK games development, to bring the gaming sector in line with the benefits already enjoyed by the film industry.

The government acknowledged that "a system of cultural tax credits has long helped to sustain a wide range of films that speak to a British narrative, rather than the cultural perspectives of Hollywood or multinational collaborations."

More to the point, Gordon Brown and crew appear now to understand the significant contribution the games industry makes to the UK economy - reporting a turnover of GBP 4.034bn in 2008 - and appreciate that a lack of competitiveness has been driving talent and development out of the UK to countries like Canada, which already offers tax incentives to games companies.

A review is now underway into the "evidence for a tax relief" for "culturally British video games". A lot will hinge on how "culturally British" is defined. A system similar to that employed by the film industry is expected to be used for games.

In the film "Culture Test", overseen by the UK Film Council, movies must score a minimum number of points according to a set of criteria to determine whether they are "culturally British" and therefore qualify for tax relief.

How the games system will work in practice remains to be seen, but film-types Eurogamer has spoken with criticised the movie test, claiming demonstrably non-British movies can be classed as "culturally British" according to the UK Film Council's terms.

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