British workers for US jobs: Americans want our video game developers

The UK has one of the best video games industries in the world - but US companies are increasingly recruiting British talent.

by Emma Haslett

The UK may be best known for over-paid bankers and phone-hacking tabloids, but actually one of our most successful industries is video games. In 2011, according to a study by the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, the industry was worth £2.52bn, and was projected to grow by 10% between 2010 and 2014, faster than the film, music and TV sectors.

But it seems we’re too successful for our own good, because the UK’s video gaming industry has been beset by a ‘brain drain’. Nope, not the kind you get from spending 12 hours straight in front of Call of Duty – but companies from the US and Canada trying to poach our talent.

According to a study by consultants Procorre, just 20% of the positions advertised to UK games developers are based in Britain, while over half are in North America, and 26% are on mainland Europe. Americans are particularly interested in Brits who have worked on our myriad betting sites, as the US gradually relaxes its laws against gambling online.

There’s no denying our gaming industry is good: among the top performers are Edinburgh-based Rockstar, which is responsible for the Grand Theft Auto trilogy. But there have been complaints the UK isn’t a supportive enough environment for high-tech companies: Candy Crush developer King, for example, chose New York, rather than London, to list in last month.

Lisa Mangan, Procorre’s relationship manager, reckons British gaming firms should do all they can to encourage employees to stay in Blighty.

‘The danger for the UK games industry and for the wider UK economy is that many of the best and brightest will be recruited by overseas firms who may have deeper pockets and be prepared to pay more,’ she said.

‘The government is right to do everything it can to encourage these and other specialist IT consultants to remain in the UK.’ No kidding. Bring on the ultra-graphic violence…

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