The Video Nasty Party; Margaret Thatcher's Tory Government Are Credited as the Midwives at the Birth of Scotland's Successful Computer Gaming Industry - at a Time When Coal Mines and Car Factories Were Being Closed - in This Look at 80s BritainSTEVE HENDRY

Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), August 7, 2016 | Go to article overview

The Video Nasty Party; Margaret Thatcher's Tory Government Are Credited as the Midwives at the Birth of Scotland's Successful Computer Gaming Industry - at a Time When Coal Mines and Car Factories Were Being Closed - in This Look at 80s BritainSTEVE HENDRY


Historian Dominic Sandbrook continues his journey into the 80s and looks at a Britain where Union flags were flying high again, courtesy of the Falklands War, and finds a country in search of an identity.

Skirmishes on the picket lines were playing out on the TV news, as were tombstone adverts warning of the ominous spectre of Aids, the IRA were a threat and immigration and identity politics dominated.

But there was a decade of conflict and division with the emergence of a globalised world and the Americanisation of our culture. Mary Whitehouse attacked the new threat of video nasties such as Cannibal Holocaust, and the invasion of the home computer, led by the BBC Micro and the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, began in earnest.

The latter had repercussions which reverberate today and the industry had the support of the Thatcher government.

While the ex-PM was accused of turning off the tap on British Industry and killing off the car, steel and coal industries, she invested in technology. This helped create the gaming industry, paving the way for games like Grand Theft Auto. According to Dominic, her government's policy on technology helped companies like Dundee's DMA Design who created it and later became Rock Star North, one of the leading players in the industry.

He said: "Rock Star North is a classic 80s story. These guys were at school in Dundee and had been picked to test the computer science 'O' Grade, so they had computers before most other schools. But Britain had more computers than any country in the world.

"The Thatcher Government were accused of turning off the HISTORICAL tap on British industry but Keith Joseph, one of her mentors, said computers were going to be the steam engines of their age and we should make an investment and spend a lot of money on this - and they did. …

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The Video Nasty Party; Margaret Thatcher's Tory Government Are Credited as the Midwives at the Birth of Scotland's Successful Computer Gaming Industry - at a Time When Coal Mines and Car Factories Were Being Closed - in This Look at 80s BritainSTEVE HENDRY
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