TWO polarised stories showed the predicament of culture and economics in Scotland this week. On one side, the circus drum was being banged for Scottish computer games. The sector showed 27 per cent growth in 2016-17, with 1540 staff in 91 companies contributing £172 million to GDP and £71m in taxes.

On the other side, Creative Scotland suffered resignations from its board, and received lively petitions, over the choices it made about which arts institutions to start, stop and continue funding. The large numbers flying around in this discussion are £99m of subsidy.

Now before anyone gets antsy about commercial virtue and public vice, or contrasting money makers and subsidy junkies, just hold on. It’s not as if the computer games sector in Scotland entirely disdains public support. Nor that publicly supported arts don’t contribute to national wealth.

Video Games Tax Relief (VGTR) allows for up to 80 per cent of “core expenditure” – designing, producing and testing the game – to count as a tax deduction. And Creative Scotland describes arts subsidy as a “fulcrum” to growth in the creative industries overall, whose contribution to Scotland’s GDP comes in at £4.6 billion.

Commercial computer gamers are also not above some of the old strategies of the traditional arts – for example, establish your esteemed public institutions. Their industry head, Dr Richard Wilson, wants a BGI (British Games Institute) to match the long-standing BFI (British Film Institute) – and with a big pile of taxpayer-provided investment funding attached.

So that’s all pretty complex. But still, if you compare the elements of this week’s stories, a lot of it jars. The picture that illustrated the Scottish games boom in various papers (including this one) is from Grand Theft Auto, the billions-generating franchise begun by Dundee-based RockStar North.

It shows a bunch of 1930s-style, gunned-up gangsters chucking an sprawling unfortunate off the side of a building. Gratuitous cruelty and disregard for human frailty is a hallmark of GTA, indeed one of its selling points.

In a week where disabled arts companies like the Birds of Paradise, or the children’s theatre company Catherine Wheel, lose their direct funding, let’s be honest – this isn’t a great look.

Of course, it would be wrong to take GTA and its penny-dreadful aesthetics for the whole of the games industry. Yet as many in the arts sector rend their garments, it might be useful to compare the relative worth of computer games and the traditional arts.

Much of the Scottish games sector produces what are called “casual” games, with obviously and schlocky scenarios, but with addictiveness at the core of their design. That’s generally the consumer appeal – a “gameful” manipulation of attention and attraction, such that hours are spent in game worlds layered with ads, or needing in-game purchases to proceed further.

Of course it’s fun! But these are closer to mind-games like Sudoku, mingled with the euphoric chemical hits of sweeties or coffee, than they are to anything resembling artworks.

You might support a BGI if its investments were aimed at helping support aesthetic experiments and risks in computer game making – much as the BFI does for movies. (And of course, an SGI or an SFI would be best).

But as it stands, out there in the marketplace, much of the culture of Scottish contemporary games making is crass, cliched and simplistic.

So by contrast with all this, it feels particularly tough to see the end of support for some notable arts organisations. Indeed, those whose core aim was to oppose cheap effects and the obvious formula.

I’m particularly sad about two of them – NVA and Transmission Gallery in Glasgow. NVA has been trying for a number of years to establish the old St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross – a glorious modernist ruin – as a very original kind of venue. One in which we might contemplate the ruinous outcomes and plans of the 20th century, the better to prepare ourselves for the chaos and complexity of 21st-century living. And with the ambiguous power of faith and belief hovering over it all.

This is an exciting project and has a global resonance – and in terms of NVA’s own practice, which has been all about bringing radical energy to built environments, would be their lasting monument. But I imagine losing £450k of funding isn’t going to make opening the doors at Cardross any easier. I hope its evident quality finds other backing.

As for Transmission Gallery, I have some history. In the mid-90s, I once trailed down to London, and over to Chicago, to do a half-hour documentary on the arts collective, for BBC2’s then-fashionable The Late Show. It was fun to hang out with now-star artists like Jacqueline Docherty, Martin Boyce and Ross Sinclair.

What I marvelled at was the gallery’s ability to traverse these international networks, on shoestring subsidised budgets. And then make awkward, challenging art that was powerful in any context.

What I also marvelled at was their near relentless fury at the arts institutions that funded them. Not to mention their ultra-left opportunism, using the gallery as a locus for resistance against Glasgow as a “culture city” – code words, they thought, for marketisation and gentrification.

Do they deserve their cut? I had tried a few times in the last few years to enter Transmission’s refurbished new gallery in the Trongate theatre – every time it seemed to be locked shut.

Maybe the energy has moved away from there. I note the Centre For Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, which daily buzzes like a revolutionary commune just down the hill from the Art School, retains its substantial £1,920,000 grant.

But we need more places that can support a “scenius”, as Brian Eno puts it – meaning, a genius for making creative scenes happen. Perhaps new awardees NeoN (a digital festival and network in Aberdeen) will prove to be an example of that.

Indeed, as we compare these two cultural stories, it might be that investing in tech-literate public arts is a pretty good response, faced with the supreme confidence of a commercial games sector. Can we establish thinking spaces in which we can try to contemplate what we can do with these virtual powers? Perhaps something more than just judder and shudder before their onslaught?

Arts funding is tricky, messy, and always likely to cause a stooshie. We should worry more if the flow of ideas and idealists ever stopped. Thankfully, there’s no sign of that – in any sector.