SCOTLAND has a “phenomenal reputation” across the globe when it comes to gaming and the Scottish Government remains committed to developing this further, a minister has said.

Speaking at the Scottish Games Week Industry Conference, Minister for Trade and Innovation Richard Lochhead said the country’s gaming industry was “testament to our innovative spirit”.

He alluded to Scotland’s role in creating some of the world’s most famous games, including Grand Theft Auto (below), as well as the number of opportunities available to study gaming across the country.

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“Scotland’s games industry is a testament to our innovative spirit from the early days of video game development in Dundee where the seeds of creativity were sown across the country, to here in Edinburgh which now has its own huge gaming community,” Lochhead told the conference.

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“We’ve captured the imagination of gamers worldwide and the sector has played a pivotal role in defining Scotland’s global reputation.”

The minister added that he sees how well thought-of Scotland’s gaming industry is from trade missions he has undertaken.

He explained: “I go overseas with my trade hat on, and Scotland has got a phenomenal reputation around the world for many of the things we’re talking about at this event.

“It’s incredible Scotland is still supporting some of the biggest names in the world with contributions to Grand Theft Auto and Minecraft, with hundreds of millions of copies sold worldwide.

“We can also look at our education system. When Abertay University launched its degree to study gaming back in 1997, they became the first university in the world to do so.

“In the years since, it’s been joined by a number of other institutions but maintained a reputation among the world’s best.

“Scotland is one of the best places in the world to study video games.”

‘Driving forward’

As much as Lochhead (below) was keen to celebrate Scotland’s past achievements, he also wanted to look to the future.

He noted how the global gaming market is currently valued at around $200 billion and that “there’s no doubt the Scottish games industry holds potential for economic growth”.

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“Scottish games have been shaping cultural narratives, stories and immersive experiences and captured the hearts and imaginations of millions of people,” he said.

“Scotland is uniquely positioned to excel in this space.”

He added: “I believe we need to better understand the power that games hold and that applies to myself as your minister.

“As many of you have proven through your work, it’s no longer an entertainment function, games provide many real-world benefits.

“If it isn’t through employment and economic growth, then it’s providing social interaction that creates a sense of community.”

In terms of those “real-world” applications, there’s a number of companies exhibiting who are using gaming to tackle various issues.

Edinburgh-based Glitchers for example developed Sea Hero Quest – a game in which people make their way through a maze of islands and icebergs.

The data from this game is then translated into data and sent onto experts looking to find treatment and eventually a cure for dementia.

Other companies are more focused on entertainment, such as Ant Workshop who are exhibiting their latest game Dungeon Golf (below).

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“It’s a multiplayer game, basically mini golf in a dungeon that you can mess about on with your friends and have a good time,” explains the games artistic lead Paula Lucas.

Despite all the clear signs of success, Lochhead said he felt it was still important to push Scotland’s reputation as a centre of gaming excellence.

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“In traditional Scottish fashion, we are incredibly humble about our successes, and we don’t shout from the rooftops about how good we are and what we’re doing,” he said.

“Recently, we had an art historian from Edinburgh College of Art who worked on the latest Assassin’s Creed title to bring the world of ninth-century Baghdad to life.

“I urge you to make sure your successes are well known so we can tell Scotland’s story to the rest of the world.”