The French are known for guarding their culture jealously, though somewhat ineffectively. American icons McDonald's and Disney were greeted with indignation and scorn upon their arrival in Paris, but both institutions are currently thriving in the country. Now the French are ready to throw down. You can Americanize their palettes and globalize their theme parks, but no one, personne, is going to outsource their video games.France probably isn't the first country that comes to mind when one thinks about spearing orcs or scoring virtual goals. But the fact is it's home to three of the world's biggest video game manufacturers: Ubisoft, Infogrames Entertainment, and Vivendi Games.
The latter, by the way, is the publisher of a marginally successful title called World of Warcraft.
One French official now believes the indigenous production of those games is as important to the country's national identity as the Louvre, existentialism, and ill-timed head butts. Culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres is calling for laws that would prevent the country's game makers from shipping production to India, China, or some other low cost country.
"Call me the minister of video games if you want; I am proud of this," said Donnedieu de Vabres, in a recent interview with the International Herald Tribune.
"Video games are not a mere commercial product," he continued. "They are a form of artistic expression." Of course they are, just like music, poetry, and Jerry Lewis movies. As such, Donnedieu de Vabres also wants France's game producers to get the same tax breaks given to cultural institutions. Not surprisingly, the heads of France's video game industry think the plan is fantastique. In fact, they believe it's such a good idea they pledge not to even think about outsourcing production if the government ponies up with the subsidies.
"Without production in France, we lose the creativity and diversity that this country offers," said Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, in an interview with the Herald Tribune.
All of this suggests a plan of action for U.S. tech workers concerned about losing their jobs to India or some other outsourcing hot spot. They simply need to convince the National Endowment For The Arts that the development of an object oriented database is a cultural achievement right up there with, say, Piss Christ.
Only in France, kids, only in France…