The video game industry is playing a vital role in growing the technology industry in America. The industry employs hundreds of thousands of individuals in all 50 states and in 84 percent of Congressional districts, adding to the United States’ economic power, and boosting the financial prospects of towns and cities that may have felt left behind. This isn’t by accident. Our industry thrives because of its geographical diversity and flexibility. Companies can recruit from both rural and urban areas to find passionate, talented, and diverse employees Raven Software of Middletown, Wisc., draws on their rural roots for their sophisticated workforce. The video game industry’s economic benefits extend beyond economic classes and state borders.
Across the country, states are reaping the benefits of a vibrant, profitable video game industry. Tennessee, the heart of the country music scene, has positioned itself as the video game music capital of the United States. The state is offering a tax-incentive program for video games and post-production scoring—and because of that, three of the top four best-selling video games in the world were scored in Nashville: Madden NFL 18, Call of Duty WWII, and Destiny 2. Prominent recording studios in Nashville like Blackbird, Nashville Music Scoring, and Music City Scoring work with video game developers to create innovative audio experiences for players.
California is a major center for the video game industry, generating $8 billion in revenue for the state and supporting at least 114,000 jobs, over 35,000 being directly employed by the industry. These jobs include engineers, designers, animators, hardware/software manufacturers, service providers and distributors. The state is able to feed the industry’s need for top talent with outstanding video game design programs at universities such as the University of Southern California and the University of California, Santa Cruz, ensuring that new developers looking to establish themselves in California will have easy access to workforce talent. Developers like FarSight Studios, Activision Blizzard, Riot Games, Sony, Naughty Dog and Tencent are headquartered across California.
In Texas, the state’s Moving Image Industry Incentive Program provides grants to qualifying video game productions based on a percentage of the project’s spending in the state. Because of this, video game developers throughout Texas such as MyndVR, and Powerhouse Animation attract local and out-of-state talent to Austin and Dallas. The Lone Star State has the second-highest number of video game companies by state in the country and generates $1 billion yearly in revenue.
Washington, home to companies that changed how the world shops, learns, and thinks, is also on the cutting edge of video game innovation and learning. Microsoft has done extensive work on video game accessibility, and Nintendo of America, based in Redmond, created its Labo program there. Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive controller, highlighted in a Super Bowl ad this year, is a leading-edge video game controller designed for video game players with limited mobility, and opens up the world of video games to players who were previously hindered by their physical disabilities—but not anymore.
New York leverages its deep educational resources to boost its prominence in the industry. The state has one of the highest concentrations of colleges and universities in the country that offer video game-related degrees. It’s home to Rockstar Games, the creator of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, which so far has grossed more than $6 billion. The state is also home to companies like Second Avenue Learning, which works with schools in economically challenged areas like Rochester, to introduce students to STEM learning. In addition, across the state’s border in Pennsylvania, established companies like Schell Games, and start-ups, bring economic contributions to their communities as well.
The benefits extend beyond the mainland. Hawaii’s public colleges and universities, such as Hawaii Community College, Leeward Community College, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa, offer video game design programs.
It’s time more states work to provide incentives to attract highly-paid and well-educated professionals in the video game industry. We know video games provide social benefits, create communities, and help people play, socialize, and learn. But the video game industry has created a network of economic advantage across the United States—and the growth shows no signs of slowing down. From small towns to teeming urban areas, on both coasts and across the ocean, American communities are competing and reaping the rewards of a thriving video game industry. For these states, it’s a whole new game. For more information on the video game industry in your state, visit AreWeInYourState.com.