Guest Op-Ed: Jobs & Development: Entertainment & Educational Digital Gaming

Here’s a great opportunity for New York to develop high level jobs in a high growth area: digital entertainment and educational gaming, where jobs average $90,000 annually, and annual growth has been in the 10 percent range.

My committee, the Select Committee on Science, Technology, Incubation & Entrepreneurship,conducted roundtables in Brooklyn and upstate, to discuss how we accelerate this kind of development.

Here’s some of what we found:The gaming industry is huge, bigger at $21 billion than music, movies or the DVD industry in total sales. The 5,500 people who work in it in New York add about $270 million to our state’s economy. That’s good, but it’s dwarfed by the industry leaders — California ($2.2 billion), Washington ($480 million), and Texas ($492 million). The Texas expansion is due in part to significant incentives, which have helped the industry achieve critical mass.

The industry is diverse, including not just desktop and online games, but also apps, large and small companies, entrepreneurs, the academy, and entertainment and educational gaming parts. The learning game part is very healthy, projected to grow 18 percent by 2017, to $9 billion.

Talent is pouring out of schools like Brooklyn Polytech, RIT and RPI, but many of them go to other states where opportunities for creative work are greater. Many companies are moving employees to areas that make more economic sense, despite a stated desire to stay in New York State.

To summarize: The industry is large, adult, diverse, growing rapidly and reacts to incentives.

Conclusion: We have room to grow, by a lot, if we do it right.

We can build on the incentives in place, and add new and needed ones. I believe we can use the Startup-NY zones, the incubator and Hotspots, and some other approaches to develop critical mass in this industry and grow it in New York.

Is it possible? Well, we just did it.

Over the last several years, a program I sponsored and helped create to provide incentives to the film industry, brought an industry that once was ours back to this state. Filmed production today accounts for $7.1 billion in spending and employs 130,000 people in New York City, with growth that was accompanied by private infrastructure investment, expanding studio and post production capacity.

We did it, and we can do it again, with another significant industry.

State Senator Martin Golden is chair, NYS Senate Select Committee on Science, Technology, Incubation & Entrepreneurship.

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