Well, this is interesting - the Isle of Man is giving game and interactive media companies tax breaks with effect from April next year. For those who don’t know, the island I live on has a lot in common with the IOM economically in that it’s heavily dependent on financial services industry (far, far too dependent in many people’s view, including mine). So far our politicians have been ‘forced’ to copy what the IOM is doing as regards tax reform to avoid being seen as ‘uncompetitive’ in the financial services arena, which involves charging no tax on companies with non-resident beneficial owners as from 2008. Companies with resident beneficial owners (like mine, for example) will still get taxed, so once again local businesses (and residents, who have to make up the shortfall left by this tax reform) get fleeced in the interests of courting external investment. But I digress.
I’d love to dream that our politicians, with their boundless ability to copy others, might introduce a similar incentive scheme here to promote diversity, but I highly doubt it. A zero tax rate for interactive media companies might actually stir up a few interesting opportunities over here (not least for my company), instead of the desperately dull situation we have now where almost everything is geared toward endless acres of sterile office blocks filled with besuited fund administrators, lawyers and accountants. Often as I wander through our town centre I wonder how on earth so many people can devote their lives to shuffling money around from place to place - I think I’d go stark raving bonkers. 😮
I did train as an accountant for a little while in my youth (13 years ago now I think - scary) - after 2 years I’d realised that, despite the seriously good money prospects, and the fact that I was pretty good at it (being a fairly numerate chap), I really couldn’t face getting up every day and doing it no matter how much they paid me. Money is great and all, but if you’re not interested in what you do, it’s not going to work. So I did the final year, got my qualification, stuck it in a drawer and never went back. For me, computer science gave me the variety and opportunities for creativity that I really couldn’t find elsewhere.
So if I lament the lack of diversity in our local economy, why am I still here? Well, the fact that I still live on this island owes more to coincidence than planning (although from a quality of life perspective I do like living here). About 10 years ago I’d just got to the stage where my 3D coding was starting to mature, pre-OGRE, and I had applied for a few positions at game companies in the UK (including the then Bullfrog - no-one can blame me for trying). I didn’t have any luck at first. Then, I met the person who was later to become my wife, and just about everything changed 😉 I’ve got more responsibilities these days, and my wife is extremely rooted here so moving to a place where there’s more (read: any ;)) demand for my 3D skills is out of the question, at least for the forseeable future. A man has to have priorities, and my wife’s happiness trumps any ambitions or delusions of grandeur I might have.
I don’t regret anything - you makes your choices, you live with them, and life is generally good - but having my cake and eating it would be nice too. 😉 But then again, the ‘Golden Years’ of being a game developer are firmly in the past, and we’re now in a period where poor pay and conditions are the norm (certainly very few game positions I’ve seen match my current salary), and there’s very little opportunity for any personal ownership or creativity in game creation anymore in most mainstream circles, so hey, perhaps it turned out for the best, who can say. I’m certainly grateful for what I have.
Until something changes, I’ll see what I can build in exile from the rest of the ‘civilised’ world 😀