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Creative industry growth could make North Sea Oil look like a “drop in the ocean”

Chris van der Kuyl.
Chris van der Kuyl.

The economic benefits of Scotland’s creative industries could make the North Sea oil boom “look like a drop in the ocean,” MPs meeting in Dundee on Monday were told.

But Chris van der Kuyl, chairman of Dundee video games company 4J Studios, told the Scottish Affairs Select Committee investment and support must be better targeted if Scotland is not to miss out.

And he warned that UK immigration policy could derail the industry by preventing companies from recruiting the best talent from overseas.

Mr van der Kuyl told the committee that the game Grand Theft Auto, which originated in Dundee, is “bigger than the whole of the recorded music industry combined”.

He said: “This is the biggest entertainment industry in the world and Scotland actually has a serious foot in the door and we don’t treat it that way.

“We’ll talk about our TV industry and our film industry – our film industry is nothing in terms of relative scale to our games industry yet I don’t think we appreciate the resource that we have nor give it the focus that it deserves.”

He told MPs that emerging markets such as virtual and augmented reality could offer potential annual growth of hundreds of per cent.

“Especially for a country like Scotland, who really have nibbled round the edges and done very well, the opportunity is huge.

“If I were to be asked to compare it to the opportunity of North Sea oil, I would say it will make North Sea oil look like a drop in the ocean.

“This is the ocean we are playing for this time. We’re just trying to hold a tiger by the tail.

“If there was ever a time to get serious about this industry now is it. If we let this opportunity pass by others will take it and Scotland will languish, but we shouldn’t and I think we are brilliantly positioned to be successful.”

Dundee West MP Chris Law also clashed with BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie at the committee’s public evidence session at Abertay University.

Mr MacQuarrie denied claims the BBC’s coverage had been skewed in favour of the Better Together campaign.

For full coverage of the meeting, see Tuesday’s Courier or try our digital edition.

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