The world of culture and leisure is clearly changing. In Spain, in 2012, the video game sector had a turnover of 1,795 million euros. In 2020, national companies had a 20% growth compared to the previous year. The pandemic, obviously, marked a growth path for digital entertainment to the detriment of other media (Spanish cinema grossed 40 million in 2021) from which it is difficult to deviate. And it’s getting harder to ignore.
This week has taken place in Pamplona the first edition of the Next Lab Finance & Tech, an initiative promoted by the Government of Navarra and the Nicdo cultural platform that sought to unite investors and developers. That is, to give a boost to the creation of video games with a very clear premise: that those who have projects have a meeting point with financiers who want to support the interactive entertainment sector.
It was a good first step. A space where, fortunately, the question of whether video games are art was rarely heard and the focus was on more specific issues. For example, the exceptional importance that games have had in promoting and conveying most of the technologies, facilities and ways of using the digital world that surrounds us, from GPS to mobile applications. Something curious happens with the world of videogames: in the last century nobody asked writers to know how to set up a publishing house, film directors to know how to run a studio, or painters to have the knack of running their own gallery. But for a long time, entrepreneurs in the video game world have been required to do just that: not only have a bold idea with possibilities, but also set up their own company, know how to raise the necessary financing, control the bureaucracy and also manage to give birth a good product. Then what happens happens: the level of burnout among entrepreneurs in the sector it is obviously very high.
In Pamplona there was talk of financing, but not only private. Audiovisual is already (in March 2021 the Government approved it) a strategic sector in the cultural field. And in that bag enters, in addition to cinema, series or advertising, video games, augmented reality or virtual reality, a sector to which the Executive promised to allocate more than 1,600 million until 2025 to build a hub at European level. That is why organizations such as the ICO, ENISA or CREA SGR also had their representation and their commitment to open doors.
At the tables, it was debated whether the metaverse is something as groundbreaking as it seems or rather it is just a fine-tuning of —the term seems to have become quite outdated— cyberspace. They went there from Raúl Rubio, CEO of Tequila Works (the studio responsible for jewelry such as colorful fantasy rhymeinspired by the Levante air, or that schizophrenic puzzle called The Sexy Brutalewhich mixes a party worthy of the Great Gatsby with a time loop) to David Lorenzo, who struggles to find the best financing for the first Pentakill Studio work, The Occultist, a game with an unbeatable look. There were from Virtual Reality initiatives to the film by the Argentine Fernando Sirianni The Paradise, created entirely with Unreal, one of the most famous graphics engines in the world of video games.
Similar initiatives have always existed in the world of culture. But in video games understood as a cultural artifact, not so much. It is fair to point out that less is said about them, but that under the world we see a series of tectonic plates are moving that could transform the Spanish cultural landscape in a few years. Video games live their momentum, and just around the corner there is a young woman, a recent graduate, a group of friends with a new, creative, stimulating project with the possibility of commercial success. It only remains to grease the machine a little so that all the talent can sprout. We talk little about the digital world understood as a sector. And yet, it doesn’t stop moving.