Originally posted on the Orlando Sentinel website:
Florida’s video-game industry has been growing at more than twice the national rate. The Electronic Software Association numbers released last week come as little surprise for those within the industry.
David Sushil, president of the local independent game group Indienomicon, said he has seen that growth first-hand. “When we started running Indienomicon, we knew of half a dozen indie game houses in Orlando,” he said. “Now it’s about 40 strong.”
According to the report, Florida’s video-game industry grew by 79 percent from 2009 to 2012, outpacing the national average of 31 percent during the same period. The study measured growth in several categories, including number of employees and sales. The 79 percent growth in Florida related to what the study called “value adds,” which covers wages earned, taxes paid and surplus held by video-game companies and workers.
The report quantifies recent growth just as the city’s startup community has started to come together, with companies that develop video games squarely in the mix of that emergence.
Ben Noel, executive director of the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, said the growth reflects the region’s ability to retain workers being paired with resources to convince locals to stick around.
“This is not one of those places you want to run away from,” he said. “The economy is good. The cost of living is good. Why would you run from that?”
It found that Florida employs the sixth-most video-game-industry workers in the U.S., just shy of Massachusetts. California, by far, employs the most video-game workers in the country, containing 41 percent of all industry workers in the U.S.
“The high-energy, high-tech video game industry is rapidly producing some of the most valuable jobs in Florida,” Michael Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, said in a statement. “Our industry is one of the nation’s fastest-growing economic sectors and represents tens of thousands of lucrative career opportunities for well-educated people in America.”
In Florida, the industry added more than $171 million to the state’s economy and indirectly employed about 4,600 people in 2012.
Sushil said the industry’s growth in Florida should continue. “Being in Orlando, it feels like it’s a rocket ready to lift off,” he said. “We just need a spark to light that fuse and get this rocket going.”
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