The doctor is astounded to report that flying pigs were spotted soaring over a snow covered Sahara desert today!

Unfortunately, it was still raining at Cypress Mountain on Vancouver’s North Shore.  The organizers for the Winter Olympics are now planning to make mudboarding an official event 😉

The British Columbia provincial government announced on Wednesday that a 17.5% labour tax credit will come into effect starting August 1, 2010 for video game companies. While the Doctor is glad to finally see the industry receive a tax credit after many years, I can only say to the politicians ‘WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG?

I have a hypothesis!

It’s fair to say that most politicians don’t play video games or understand the current state of the industry. Their experiences are primarily rooted in the days of Atari, Pacman, and Space Invaders. They are not exactly ‘technologically literate’. For several years, the industry lobbied the government for some form of tax incentive to keep companies from leaving and setting up shop in other provinces, or other countries. I spoke to a provincial cabinet minister in 2008 about why there were no tax credits for video game developers. The minister replied that because the industry was so successful in BC, there was no need for a credit. I explained at the time that BC video game companies generated more revenue than the highly tax credited BC film industry ($1.2 billion compared to $940 million). The minister waffled when I made that point

The doctor notes that Premier Gordon Campbell has used the video game industry for political advantage on several occasions. I remember him being filmed by CBC television on billionaire Jimmy Pattison’s yacht while schmoozing with homegrown video game titan Don Mattrick. Campbell was also filmed by CBC while visiting EA’s massive Burnaby campus during the 2009 election. When the studio was officially opened in 1999, former Prime Minister Jean Chretien was filmed there as well.

The BC video game industry began in the early 1980’s as a small cluster of  cottage companies. Today it is a recognized global powerhouse of creative talent. People who work in the game industry usually make better than average salaries. The current economic recession, the cost of living, the rising dollar, and increased global competition are affecting BC video game companies to attract and retain talent. The major BC game studios are controlled by publicly owned game publishers in Europe and the United States. If they and their shareholders feel that developing video games in this province is not a viable economic proposition, they will leave. Hopefully this tax credit will provide some measure of confidence for them to maintain their current level of operations.

The new video game labour tax credit is a start. But when you compare 17.5% to Quebec’s 37.5% labour tax credit, it is clear that more collaboration between government and the video game industry needs to happen for its long term health.

How about a new Olympic video game Grand Theft Muk Muk? 🙂

Doctor Arkanoid

Advertisements