Swiss Home Affairs Minister Alain Berset says he has gone to an international games fair because computer and video games are an important form of culture.
Speaking on Tuesday at the international Gamescomexternal link trade fair being held in Cologne, Germany, through Saturday, Bersetexternal link described gaming as a “globally important industry” with a turnover “more than three times” that of the film industry.
He said he was there to see it for himself, along with all the Swiss developers on site. “But I’m also here because I’m fascinated by the games myself: by the worlds that are designed, visually, and musically; the stories that are told; and of this special form of culture,” Berset told the crowd, noting the mixture of innovation, research and culture.
At Gamescom there are 18 Swiss studios represented at the “Swissgames” pavilion, which is financed by Swiss arts council Pro Helvetiaexternal link. The council started promoting games nine years ago.
The Swiss government is looking into a pilot project where games will benefit from a systematic, regular funding programme, Berset said. This would provide Pro Helvetia with CHF2 million per year towards “design and interactive digital media” from 2021-2024.
The video game industry in Switzerland employs nearly 600 people and has an annual turnover of $150 million (CHF147 million). Swiss games have won more than 150 international awards. In 2009, there were fewer than a dozen startups. Now there are nearly 130, according to the Association of Swiss Game Developersexternal link.