Video games: pixels in Brussels
Brussels and the Tour & Taxis site, as of 14 October, are now home to the Pixel Museum, dedicated entirely to the world of video games, with only 6 counterparts worldwide. Jérôme Hatton’s project began life in Strasbourg, but has been able to relocate to Brussels thanks to the concentrated efforts of hub.brussels services.
- Read also : “Brussels’ first Video Game museum opens its doors“, from the Brussels Time
Three-way interview with Isabelle Grippa, Marine Haverland and Céline de Gheyndt.
Welcoming the Pixel Museum to Brussels is, as they say in the gaming world, a real achievement.
Isabelle Grippa, CEO hub.brussels: Absolutely! above all it’s real proof that Brussels is continuing to make its mark as a major technological capital, with an ever more significant position in this particular sector. The video game industry today is, quite simply, the biggest entertainment industry in the world.
Marine Haverland, screen.brussels cluster coordinator: Unprecedented growth, with annual turnover of a €100 billion! It’s dizzying, when you compare it with the traditional giants: the TV industry, €90 billion. The film industry, €35 billion, so only a third the size.
And in Belgium the sector is really booming! It currently employs 1,100 people, compared to 400 five years ago, with turnover of more than €90 million and 95 different developers across the country.
Céline de Gheyndt, invest manager: A few months ago we had the pleasure, at hub.brussels, of working with the European Esports Federation, which has also chosen Brussels as the location for its new head office.
On top of our city’s international dimension and our experience with international associations, it’s the excellent health of our local audiovisual sector that is generally the reason behind choosing a move to Brussels.
It’s proof that our capital offers fertile ground for developing this creative sector, but it’s also proof that the concerted efforts of hub.brussels contribute to Brussels’ attractiveness and economic development.
Céline: Yes, in fact the Pixel Museum’s arrival at hub.brussels was a three-level game.
- Our team that manages foreign investment was able to convince Mr Hatton that Brussels was “The Place to Be” for developing internationally. Our invest team was also able to help him access our agency’s various resources.
- At hub.brussels we have numerous consultants specialising in a series of fields that tie into developing businesses: planning permits, environmental permits, legal matters, digital technology, credit mediation, and so on. Mr Hatton was pleased accept the help of all of our specialists, particularly for his legal and financial questions.
- And then there are our clusters; the Pixel Museum was able to draw on the expertise of our hospitality.brussels cluster, which supports companies working in tourism, events and culture in Brussels. Not forgetting support from our screen cluster, which works with a series of initiatives in the audiovisual and gaming world.
How does the screen.brussels cluster support the gaming sector?
Marine: It works especially through support given to companies, as well as backing Brussels events like Brotaru, Big Brotaru and Anima. Also, and above all, by helping Brussels companies to develop and flourish internationally.
How do you see the future of gaming in Brussels?
Isabelle: The first challenge is clearly to continue innovating and investing, so that Brussels can continue to the narrow gap that still exists with other regions that lead the way in the field. In this context, the best opportunity for gaming in Brussels will without a doubt be the forthcoming opening of the Tax Shelter to video gaming.
After film in 2003, and the performing arts in 2018, we are convinced that the Tax Shelter will give the gaming sector in Brussels a massive boost, as it has for other cultural industries in the past.
Marine: Exactly… Taking a lead from France, the UK, Finland and Canada, which have granted state support to the sector for a number of years, this will enable the creation of a genuine ecosystem, and will be a springboard for our companies.
Elsewhere, the results of this supportive policy speak volumes! Fifteen years on from the first incentives, and from a standing start, the Canadian gaming industry is now the 3rd largest development hub in the world, behind Japan and the United States. It provides more than 21,700 direct jobs and counts 596 developers.
Isabelle: The draft law to expand the Tax Shelter to include gaming was broadly approved by the Chamber of Deputies in March 2019. The legal text lodged with the Belgian gazette in April 2019 is now awaiting Europe’s approval before coming into force. I have no doubt that its enactment will be wonderful news for Brussels’ business and employment prospects.
And how are things in the sector for our businesswomen?
Isabelle: That is the other challenge where I believe it is essential that our agency gets involved. Particularly on the question of parity. Today, when nearly half of gamers are female, women only represent 7 tiny percent of the jobs created by the industry in Belgium. So there is a massive challenge to overcome to enable all the women and men in Brussels to access a world that is still far too closed.
I am sure that through our Women in Business and Women in Tech programmes in particular, we will be able to accelerate the transition. I also hope that the Ludus Académie, founded by Mr Hatton alongside the Museum, will be able to contribute to making Brussels a model when it comes to inclusion. Finally, I hope that the Pixel Museum will be an excellent propaganda tool with Brussels businesswomen and men for the creativity of the sector.