The Midlands is leading the the world in many parts of the digital gaming sector but needs to look to the future rather than the present in order to keep pace with rapid development.

That was one of the key messages at the LAUNCH Future Gaming & Digital Conference 2012 at Birmingham Science Park, which gathered together some of the major figures in the industry at home and abroad.

The Midlands continues to be the UK's powerhouse in the gaming sector with many of the industry's big hitters based in the region.

The industry now outperforms the cinema and DVD markets with an annual UK turnover of more than £4 billion.

Sion Lenton, studio manager at SEGA Europe, based in Solihull, described digital gaming as "the biggest small industry in the country" and urged companies to concentrate on future trends and "where they want to be".

Citing Canadian ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, he said: "Wayne Gretzky said don't go where the puck is, go where the puck is going.

"It's about market trends. Don't be derivative. Don't just follow what's hot now. Try and figure out what's going to be hot 12 months from now.

"You have to understand the market and where you want to be and have a roadmap for where you want to be."

Pointing to SEGA's seismic shift from boxed to digital product, Mr Lenton said the Dorridge studio was an embodiment of the change, having recently completed the company's first iPhone game, Sonic Jump.

Rich Eddy, communications director at Codemasters which employs around 600 staff at its Leamington Spa headquarters and a further 100 at the Birmingham studio where its Bafta award-winning series of official Formula One games is produced, said its involvement with Formula One helped to open doors and boost exports.

He said: "Our business truly global now and working with Formula One opens up a lot more markets - such as in the US and South America. Brazil is becoming a massive market for us and is probably going to become our biggest export market outside Europe this year."