People are key to making Ireland global games hub, says TD

17 Oct 2011

Fine Gael's Paschal Donhoe TD

Successfully vaulting hurdles like maths, science and languages will be the key to ensuring Ireland achieves its vision of being a global games hub says Paschal Donohoe, the TD who has helped ensure the games industry’s potential is recognised at a government level.

Earlier this year the Fine Gael Dublin Central TD revealed proposals that could see the Government optimise the structure of R&D tax credits currently on offer to include costs associated with the development and design of games.

Last week Forfas brought out a report indicating how the global games industry could be worth US$82.4bn by 2015 and claimed Ireland could double the number of people employed locally in the sector to 4,500 if it takes the right actions.

“I think its eminently achievable we will do it and we’ll have two sources likely to deliver the job growth,” Donohoe told Silicon Republic at a gathering of some of the highest-ranking executives in the global console, casual and social gaming industry in Dublin last week organised by Games Ireland.

“We already have a significant amount of multinational investment in Ireland and the challenge we have is to bring the activity they are doing further up the value chain so that the work they’re doing is adding more commercial value, employing more graduates.”

The second source is the creation of indigenous brands. “I have met the different colleges and Institutes of Technology working in this area and I have no doubt at all that we have the people and expertise to do it. We need to do two things to support them. We need to get seed capital to funding earlier stage companies. We have made good progress but can do more.

“The next thing to do is to give as much support as we can for smart young graduates in commercialising the ideas they have. There is a huge opportunity in that area. It’s just so clear to me having met people who are studying in this area and having met their lecturers. The ball is rolling but we can kick it a lot harder.”

Donohoe says it is vital that today’s school students realise that when they are older they could very much be the people creating and managing the very games they play today or covet for Christmas, thereby enjoying rewarding lucrative careers.

“The first thing is to combine creativity with an appreciation for and use of technology; and this industry has both in spades.”

The next issue is ensuring mathematical, scientific and technological literacy are grasped at second and third level.

“When you’re standing up in front of a group of kids and teaching quadratic equations – the best way to explain is say ‘see that game on that phone, what powers that is algorithms and quadratic equations and this is the core of progress and the core of all the things we take for granted now.’ We should explain these things in terms boys and girls can understand and that gets them excited

“I remember talking to one lad who said he wasn’t enjoying maths and couldn’t see where it was all going, but he was also playing a video game and I pointed out to him in that game if a bullet flies in a direiton that’s because of maths.

“It is a fabulously exciting industry. I am thrilled to see Ireland doing well but we need to do better,” Donohoe said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years