Get Your Game On

It’s winter, it’s raining, it’s dark. Playing outside is still a feasible option, but if you prefer to stay warm and dry, then why not choose entertainment that supports one of the region’s fastest growing niche industries: electronic games. If you want to sound more professional, say you’re supporting the “interactive media” industry, which is the same, but refers more inclusively to aerospace and medical applications also being developed in this region, referred to as “serious games” (not that your own Xbox efforts aren’t serious).

In addition to Microsoft and Nintendo’s presence, dozens of smaller companies have established the region as a world leader in interactive media. In fact, we’re one of the country’s three most conducive areas to video game development, along with San Francisco and San Jose. More than 15,000 professionals in this region work directly in electronic games. Their skills and occupations are in high demand and the professionals migrate well to other industries, applying their technology skills to all industries for web development and electronic media. They also support other industries, such as music and theater, and companies worldwide turn to our local companies for collaboration.

Our region has a special niche in “casual games”, those light-hearted games on the Internet and on phones that most people reading this blog are more apt to have experienced recently. Our region’s casual game companies, like Big Fish Games and Pop Cap Games, have had significant growth and expansion throughout the recession – perhaps, in part, because of the recession and their low-cost access.

To give you a sense of the potential revenue from these activities, a couple of years ago Microsoft and Bungie collaborated on a “core game”, Quake 3, for which sales surpassed Hollywood box office revenues, establishing video games as a full-fledged entertainment competitor to Hollywood. (In fact, electronic games and the film industry have merged considerably.)

For those who need a little help rationalizing the social side of gaming, try this pbs.org link for support (who wouldn’t trust pbs?). For all of us, get your game on and know you’re supporting a burgeoning local industry!

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