Back immersive technology, Bacta tells DCMS

In its evidence to the government’s new inquiry on immersive technologies, Bacta has underlined the potential boon VR presents to FEC operators.

In response to the government’s ongoing inquiry as to the future direction of growth for immersive technology.

Bacta has urged committee members of the department of media, culture and sport to back the development and support of virtual reality and its related experiences,drawing a clear line between gaming experiences at home and those within a public setting.

The DCMS put out its call for public opinion on the subject of new immersive entertainment tech in December.

“The way we interact with cutting-edge technologies is life-changing for our generation and generations to come,” said DCMS committee chair Damian Collins at the time of the inquiry’s announcement.

“We have the opportunity now to shape that development, setting an agenda that benefits our economy and how we spend our leisure time,while ensuring the right safe- guards are built in.”

All well and good, but the terminology of the DCMS memo seemed focused almost entirely on negative implications as to data privacy and addiction issues within the realm of the private, home-gaming space. Accordingly, Bacta’s response elected to try and steer a more positive window of focus onto the potential benefits of gaming – and the FEC more specifically.

“The debate so far seems to be narrowly focused on in-home experiences,” the trade association argued to ministers.“Bacta urges the department to consider and introduce policies and reliefs that would benefit the family entertainment industry.”

Indeed, the trade-body posited that immersive technologies – VR in the specific – presented business owners with “a real potential to add a new experience in the family entertainment offering,” an option which it made clear “some venues have already begun to explore”.

Furthermore, to capitalise on what the trade body argued had swiftly become a real opportunity to be truly creative and innovative,” it pressed its desire to see “further investment in developing the skills required to embrace immersive technologies.”

Bacta went on to clearly underline a recent decline in FEC numbers, and argued that VR and similar technologies raised the serious prospect of relief, stressing the sector’s positioning to draw on “high-end components” to offer a“heightened experience.”

Such revitalisation wouldn’t just be a boon for operators, argued the trade group, but had far wider-reaching implications.

“With the well-documented decline of the high street, which our industry has also suffered from, immersive gaming provides the opportunity for FECs to enhance and boost their offering which could result in a boost to the high street,” it said.

Concluding with recommendations to the presiding committee, Bacta reinforced the import of FECs to Britain’s coastal economy, and maintained that support and investment in immersive tech was synonymous with the support of destination entertainment itself.
“FECs are amongst the most important economic activities in many seaside towns,” it surmised. “The sector directly supports British manufacturing and jobs and therefore requires government support to allow it to continue its investment in these coastal and inland businesses and the family entertainment industry as a whole.”


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