BUENOS AIRES — Holding a captive audience, Laura Gouthez, president of the French video game association SO-Games, spoke about the present state of the industry and its forward trajectory in a casual discussion hosted Wednesday by Maquinitas, the games sidebar that runs in tandem with the Ventana Sur market.
Located in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the association of video game professionals is dedicated to representing actors from La Rochelle via Poitiers, Angoulême, Bordeaux, Pau, Agen and Biarritz.
Connecting the games ecosystem in France with broader global collaborations, Gouthez noted how the business ties together academia, industry and government to develop the audiovisual sector. Noting a stagnant trend in France after the pandemic, she believes the static months will quickly give way to a crescendo of creation.
“The creation of video games is down, but only the creation. The number of video game studios has increased,” she pointed out.
With five years in the video game sector, Gouthez brought a depth of knowledge about the politics surrounding funding and education in the field and spoke to the production value robust incentives and support lend in creating and retaining French and international talent by way of regional schools and studios.
France, while behind mega-markets like the U.S., Canada and China, is the second largest video game hub in Europe directly after the U.K. and just ahead of Germany, with nearly 1,000 companies dedicated to the endeavor, and 600 studios to date.
“France’s sector is so strong,” Gouthez relayed. “First of all, we have a very strong fabric. Schools, for example, schools that go train all their talents, which then go to work in the studios. We also have companies and researchers such as banks, who believe in the sector and who’re going to help the studios with money first,” she continued.
Another boon to the industry is the increasing support of the government, which in 2017, according to Gouthez, “made a bet on the sector as well.” With Ubisoft Bordeaux helping to create “Assassins Creed Mirage” and studios in the region working on ever more ambitious productions, the bet is paying off.
The discussion continued, opening up to the audience who shared the challenges in the Latin American video games sector and the roadblocks that stall creation, including trouble securing necessary funds and a lack of labor support, which at times leads to exploitation, some bringing up the formation of syndicates and unions as a means to carve out more agency for creators.
After a spirited round of questions, the talk wrapped as the audience asked about cultural representation in French video games, as a large factor in the Latin American audiovisual ecosystem is producing art that communicates something about its country of origin. Gouthez admitted it wasn’t a large priority for France, as they seek talent from around the globe that inherently leads to a wide array of representation in the video games they produce, without specific nods to French culture or lore.
All-in, the conversation led to a generous exchange of ideas that ran overtime, some curiosities left unsated.