Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Texas Game Incentives Update

In Austin, they're ramping up for Screenburn Fest...

Deep in the Heart: Developers Call Texas Home

It might come as a surprise to some that Texas has a thriving video/online game industry, with at least 70 video game development companies calling the Lone Star State home. Based mostly around Austin and Dallas, giants such as Blizzard Entertainment, Sony Online Entertainment, BioWare Corp., Amaze Entertainment and Ncsoft (as well as a host of smaller, independent development companies) all have offices in Texas. “Austin was already what I would describe as well-primed for this industry,” says Richard Garriott, co-founder of the now defunct Origin Systems and current head of Destination Games, “Prior to gaming we already had high-tech companies like IBM, 3M, Texas Instruments, National Instruments, Samsung, Advance Micro Devices and Dell. And Austin has always had a thriving music and arts community… we had programmers, artists and developers beating down our door wanting to join what they immediately recognized as a big part of the future.” So serious is Texas about it’s gaming industry, that when the state legislature passed a set of film production incentives last spring, it included incentives for in-state video or computer game projects. While the program, intended to give Texas a competitive edge over New Mexico and Louisiana, does come with some restrictions over violent and ‘obscene’ content, many developers see it as a positive move for the Texas market. Rodney Gibbs, an exec with Austin-based Amaze Entertainment, says that the incentive program “is helping to overcome that stigma we still suffer from: ‘Oh, games; that’s shooting people.’ That’s just like saying all films are Quentin Tarantino films.”

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