City to develop £5m computer games academy
AMBITIOUS plans to turn Liverpool into an international nerve-centre for the computer gaming industry can be revealed today.
The centre-piece of the proposal involves setting up a £5m National Games Academy to become a breeding ground for the finest computer minds in the country.
The Liverpool city region is already the “most significant” games cluster in the UK, employing 1,500 people directly, and the proposal aims to build on this position.
It is hoped the Academy would also support the city’s firms to stay ahead of the curve in the fast-paced industry, which is constantly developing and evolving.
Ideas for the Games Academy include training in game art, game programming and new technologies, plus offer testing facilities, work placement learning, high-speed links to Media City in Salford, intellectual property and business advice, and mentoring services.
The region is home to some of the leading companies in the video games sector, including Sony, Evolution Studios, and Project Gotham Racing creator Bizarre Creations, as well as many smaller developers.
Despite this, many people are not even aware of the games industry’s presence on Merseyside – there is no sign at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe’s development centre, in Wavertree, to alert passers-by to the hi-tech work going on there.
In total, the region’s digital and creative sector employs some 36,000 people in 4,500 companies.
“Jog”, an innovative games controller for the Nintendo Wii, has sold over a million units this year and was developed in Liverpool.
Now city leaders want to use the burgeoning industry as a key sector for future economic growth.
Enterprise leader Cllr Gary Millar and his Liberal Democrat party colleague, Cllr Laurence Sidorczuk, are behind the plans to capitalise on the city’s gaming industry.
Last night, Cllr Millar said: “It’s early days. The city region is the UK’s leading games developer catalyst and we need to capitalise on that.
“We need to work with the public and private sector to help create the game developers of the future.
“The Games Academy has every chance of catching the imagination of the next generation of gamers and workers, and inspiring people to up-skill and get involved.
“It would also provide the employers with a hub for well- trained potential new employees with which they can grow their businesses.”