The importance of gaming in Wales

I remember when I got my first gaming console as a child (the good old Commodore 64!), and I knew from the start that video gaming was something that’d be a massive part of my life. The one thing that struck me even from a young age was the community in Wales.

I’d go over a friend’s house and talk about my new game; he’d have played that game and would introduce me to other people who liked that it. And before we knew it, we were a group of friends playing games and meeting new people every day.

Fast forward 18 years later, and I’m still as blown away by the gaming community as I was when I met my first gaming buddy. In my opinion, Wales is one of the best countries in the world for the gaming industry to thrive.

Wales is a country that has the perfect mix of being large enough to be globally recognised and small enough to be able to walk down the road to meet up with your friends and game. This has enabled the gaming industry to thrive in Wales with streamers, pro gamers, gaming societies, gaming stores and game developers all using the land of their fathers to push forward the industry.

Video gaming is one of the most important industries that could happen to Wales; we already have a number of worldwide “wow” factors to brag about (Doctor Who, BBC studios, Welsh Assembly, Millennium Stadium). Gaming is our next big conquest.

There’s also less of a stigma attached to gaming these days, and if a game exists, there’s a pro gamer/streamer/society that’s associated with it. This can now enable young and adult audiences to further enjoy the games they love and to socialise with like-minded gamers. This has a huge effect on the Welsh economy because it inspires gamers to organise tournaments, viewing parties, LAN parties and gaming conventions. These events can be held on a regular basis and attract a lot of gamers who bring money into Wales and work towards further putting the country on the map.

Game development is also on the rise as the technology to make your own game is not only accessible but you can make a game on your own or with your friends (Just look at what happened to Minecraft!). Welsh Universities – like The University of South Wales’s Atrium building in Cardiff – run game development courses for undergraduates. There are also courses that can teach young adults the skills needed to join a game development team, such as sound design, animation and programming. These courses are creating a new influx of professionals who now have the opportunity to stay in Wales and do not feel that they have to travel to London or Manchester in order to get a job in the gaming industry.

Welsh gamers now have the perfect opportunity to stand up and make themselves heard. It doesn’t matter if you live in the big city or a small valleys town; there’s nothing stopping you using your skills and passion in gaming to make a difference to Wales and the gaming community here. There are so many opportunities for gamers to make money and make a difference. Wales is a proud nation and is known for its passion (I should know, I am one of them!). It’s time for Welsh gamers to let the rest of the world know that while we may be a small country, it is not the size of the person in the fight – it is the size of the fight in the person.

Paul Tristram is the co-founder of Welsh gaming community Checkpoint Gaming Lounge