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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Dec-18 > AT THE CREATIVE FRONTIER

AT THE CREATIVE FRONTIER

Video games are the most profitable arm of the entertainment industry. But as Tim Martin discovers, away from the headline-grabbing, money-spinning, ultra-violent games designers are creating true works of art

AT THE CREATIVE FRONTIER

Video games are the most profitable arm of the entertainment industry. But as Tim Martin discovers, away from the headline-grabbing, money-spinning, ultra-violent games designers are creating true works of art

Inspired craftsmanship: Red Dead Redemption 2
© ROCKSTAR GAMES

On a chilly September morning outside the vast, aircraft-hangar-like space of the Birmingham NEC, a long queue—mostly cheerful, mostly white, mostly male— curls back and forth outside the building, chatting and playing Nintendo Switch as a couple of women check them for knives and guns. “You must not be carrying sharp metallic blades,” a sign reads, “or anything that can fire a projectile such as BB guns. Props or weapons may be retained by our staff for the duration of the event if they are deemed to be unsafe.” This level of specificity would be understandable elsewhere—survivalists’ gathering, medieval reenactment, a US high school—but this is the EGX (formerly Eurogamer Expo), the UK’s largest public event celebrating the world’s most profitable entertainment medium: video games.

Video games we’re told (and certainly I hear it several times in the course of my weekend at EGX) power an industry whose profits already far surpass those of Hollywood. Worldwide receipts, including everything from the smartphone app Candy Crush to survival game Fortnite, totalled $121.7bn last year, while cinema box-office takings amounted to a less glamorous $40bn. The fairy at the top of the tree is Grand Theft Auto V, the action-crime game from 2013 whose profits have reached more than $6bn.

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In Prospect’s December issue: Timothy Garton Ash and David Allen Green assess Brexit and ask whether it’s too late for things to change. Garton Ash explains how Brexit is just one part of a fracturing Europe and that it might not be too late for the UK’s situation—or that of the rest of Europe—to change. Green takes apart the “shambolic” way that Britain has approached Brexit and suggests a number of options that parliament should strongly consider if minister are to change their views. Elsewhere in the issue: Jo Glanville visits a rural GP surgery and exposes the crises that are played out day-in-day-out all over the country. Stephen Phelan suggests that Spain’s decision to exhume General Franco’s remains threatens to disturb more than his bones. Martin Rees writes about our dreams of understanding the entire universe—and how we may never be able to satisfy that desire.