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BRIT AWARDS FOR THE GAMES INDUSTRY
Copyright 2004 www.tombraiderchronicles.com

[ April 15th 2004 ]

It was 25 years ago this year that the world first started playing Space Invaders. Today in the UK we spend more on computer games than we do going to the cinema - over two billion pounds every year, making us the third largest games country in the world. And Britain has produced many of the most successful games, including world best-seller Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider and Harry Potter. The industry is a significant contributor to our balance of payments.

This weekend (17 April) the industry is celebrating with the 2004 Game Stars Awards. They're billed as the Brits of the computer and video games industry, and will present awards in ten categories, including Action, Adventure, Racing, Sport, Multiplayer and Pocket Games. Game Stars will also be searching for the best player in the UK, who will win a trip to Japan to meet the creator of Space Invaders.

Games are big business - since 1995, the global leisure software market has almost tripled in value. More than 32 million consoles were sold around the world in 2003. And may of the best games are developed in the UK. The biggest selling game series in the world, Grand Theft Auto, was developed and produced in the UK by Rockstar North. The video games industry is a big employer - it's by far the largest software employment field in Europe. It employs 20,000 people in the UK alone. And games are good for you! According to a Home Office five-year research study, those who play computer and video games regularly are more likely to enjoy academic success.

Games have made staggering technical advances in the three decades of their existence. Once we used to huddle round a black and white screen in a pub. Today's best seller, 'James Bond Everything or Nothing', has state-of-the-art graphics and even includes specially recorded dialogue from actors Pierce Brosnan and John Cleese. That game is a contender for an Award in the Action category. Among the other finalists are Mario Kart, Grand Tourismo 4, Lord of the Rings and Eye Toy.

Two contestants will be playing for the title of UK's Greatest Gamer. 16-year-old Thomas Kingston from Walsall and Michelle Homewood of Gravesend reached the final from a field of more than 28,000 entrants. The pair secured their places in the final at playoff heats held on April 3 at ExCel in London's Docklands.

The event will be broadcast on Saturday 17 April ITV1 at 12.30pm. (with repeats on ITV2 at 6:00pm and 11:00pm). The show will be presented by Iain Lee and Holly Willoughby. A galaxy of stars are lined up to present the individual awards, including Katie Price (Jordan), Major James Hewitt, comedians Simon Pegg and John Thomson, Jessica Taylor of Liberty X and many more.

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Lara Croft and Tomb Raider are trademarks of Square Enix Ltd.
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