VBG: The British Gaming Industry Musical

Nintendo cleaned up at last week’s MCV Industry Excellence Awards, picking up a mighty four gongs including the Special Recognition award. There was good news for UK developers, with Rockstar North collecting the Best UK Development Team award, and Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet winning the Best New Games Brand. That’s all very exciting, but the real news is the above video of awesomeness.

Put together by MCV for the awards show, it features leading executives from some of gaming’s biggest names in a spoof of Blue’s “Keep on Movin’”. Taking on the roles of the boy band and providing beautifully unsynchronized moves are Nintendo’s David Yarnton, ELSPA’s Michael Rawlinson, Gamestation’s Martyn Gibbs, Sega’s John Clark, and Ubisoft’s Murray Pannell. Beyond their dad-at-a-wedding dancefloor antics, look out for an amusing dig at a certain health awareness campaign, an interesting take on the music game wars, and some rather overenthusiastic gunning. Shoot, sir, shoot!

It’s a funny little video, and a very cheesy song, but the lyrics do have deeper significance for the British gaming industry. Having just seen Canada slip ahead of it, the UK has gone from being the world’s third-largest producer of video games to being the fourth, with reports that it may fall into fifth place this year. In trying financial times, and with poor governmental support, the British gaming industry is struggling. This is especially the case for the smaller British development teams, with closure and buyouts occurring left, right and centre.

On the other hand, reflecting on what’s been recently produced by British developers shows the number of strong titles produced by this country in the last year or so. For all the doom and gloom, there are things to be excited about in British game development – and that’s what this song is all about. Well, what MCV wants it to mean – what the song was actually about was a terrible boy band’s optimistic outlook. So, to celebrate the above video, the awards, and another year of British gaming, here are my own choices for songs to suit this year’s class of British developers:

Media Molecule: Franz Ferdinand – You Could Have It So Much Better

After just under two years of hype and expectation, Sackboy delivered on Sony’s big promises of an exceptional PS3 exclusive. Unfortunately, despite LittleBigPlanet being a critical success, the sales failed to match the quality – but why? Was it the delay, unclear marketing, or some other factor? Whatever the answer, let’s hope the game maintains its long commercial tail, because it deserves far better.

Traveller’s Tales: Queen – Can’t Stop Me Now

The Cheshire-based developer have been pumping out Lego games for over three years now, with many critics suggesting that Lego Batman: The Videogame should be the series’ final outing. Traveller’s Tales, Harmonix, and MTV Games didn’t think so, because Lego Rock Band will arrive on every system under the sun by the end of the year. Logical or otherwise, TT have created an unstoppable beast of bricks.

Criterion: Gwen McCrae – All This Love That I’m Giving

Despite being such a young concept, gamers already take DLC for granted. As such, Criterion’s generous attitude toward doling out free updates for their prolific racer Burnout Paradise came as a shock to the system. Yet when the developers started charging for DLC a year down the line, the community backlash was wickedly strong. For all the love they gave, it seems Criterion just can’t please everyone. 

Rockstar North: Daft Punk – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Ignore detractors, cynics and jealous rivals – Rockstar North have had yet another triumphant year as one of the most important video game developers worldwide. Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars were huge critical hits, with both displaying the franchise’s diversity and burgeoning maturity. Grand Theft Auto goes from strength to strength.

Sports Interactive: New Order – World In Motion
To those who doubted Football Manager Live: shame on you. SI have rarely put a foot wrong with their inimitable soccer management series, and so it was no surprise to see (on top of Football Manger 2009 topping the charts) Football Manager Live become a great success, bringing together wannabe Fergusons and Mourinhos from all over the globe. What better way to celebrate a footie management MMO’s success than with the music video for a terrible football song with World in the title?

Crytek UK: The Beatles – Help!

As the fate of Nottingham-based Free Radical Design hung in the balance post-administration, and their cries for help were seemingly unheard, Timesplitters fans must’ve been fearing for the worst. Step in Crysis developer Crytek to save the day! The German developer acquired Free Radical Design and renamed them Crytek UK, and all was fairly well again. Thanks, Germany!

Lionhead Studios: Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation

Peter Molyneux made some big promises with the original Fable, and many felt that he didn’t even get close to delivering on most of them. Four years later and Fable II does a far better job of showcasing its developer’s intentions, providing an accessible, colourful and memorable RPG that was successful enough for Molyneux to proclaim there would be a Fable III, IV and V. Steady on, Peter…

Eidos Interactive: Vapors – Turning Japanese

It had to be this song, didn’t it? Tomb Raider: Crystal Chronicles? Bring it on!

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