IF YOU dig into your Christmas stocking this weekend and are lucky enough to discover a computer or video game, there’s a strong chance it was designed or created in Scotland.

Household names such as Grand Theft Auto, Lemmings and Minecraft came from Dundee and there is much more untapped potential just waiting in the wings, but there are varying reports about the size, scale and economic impact of the industry.

As a result, Brian Baglow, director of the Scottish Games Network, says he is “sick of the ongoing uncertainty and plans to take an in-depth look at the industry early next year.

Creative Scotland made a limited attempt last year but the only real data they’ve generated is the 2012 report, which values the industry at zero, says Baglow.

By his count there are around 80 companies involved in development and maybe the same again in associated companies.

Regardless of the number, it’s fair to say that there’s an impressive cluster in Dundee leading the way.

Baglow says Dundee has a virtuous cycle going on. The first two games companies in the country started there, which in turn led to more companies as stuff churned.

That gave Scottish Enterprise in Dundee more experience in helping games companies set up and then Abertay University starting the world’s first games degree meaning that there’s a constantly refreshing talent pool.

There are now four universities producing games graduates and nearly every college offers courses. With a young talent pool and the opportunities now primarily entrepreneurial, more and more companies are setting up.

Baglow says the requirements to support this burgeoning sector are light. A desk, laptop and access to the internet are the basics, but it is cheap space and networking that’s key.

“We are already seeing more clusters, mostly around universities,” says Baglow. “We need to help these young start-ups understand business better and become more sustainable. That’s the biggest challenge for games developers.

“We have companies who are technically and creatively excellent but are not natural entrepreneurs, and simply making games is no longer enough. There’s little or no public funding for games developers. It’s a difficult market. We have to make sure they understand how to compete effectively in the rapidly evolving global market.”

Baglow predicts we’re going to see more and more start-up games companies. However, he fears their long-term survival chances are poor; it’s an ultra-competitive global market and Scots companies are “allergic to marketing”.

“We already have excellent business support from Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International, but we have nowt from Creative Scotland, however, and no platform to showcase our talent on a national level. That is a disgrace.”

Polly Purvis, chief executive of ScotlandIS, says: “Scotland’s games sector is rightly internationally renowned. Abertay University has built up a world-class reputation that has helped foster the games sector in Dundee, and both Edinburgh and Glasgow are home to a number of games companies, in particular Rockstar North in Edinburgh.

“Like the rest of the tech sector, the games industry needs access to highly skilled people, internationally competitive markets for property, connectivity and financial investment, and tax policies to encourage innovation and research and development.”

Michelle Rodger is a communications consultant