Texas Game Development Incentives Come with Political Strings Attached

As reported by the Austin American-Statesman Gov. Rick Perry recently signed into law a bill providing incentives for film producers and video game developers in Texas. 

Game companies are eligible for up to $250,000 in grants. But content restrictions have caused some concern. According to the newspaper report:

To appease some concerned legislators, the incentive program was structured to guard against paying companies that make violent games. The state will be allowed to pick and choose projects, eliminating those that have "inappropriate content" or are "obscene." Game companies are left wondering which projects could be deemed "inappropriate."

Additional guidelines say that the project cannot ‘portray Texas or Texans in a negative fashion.’

The Daily Texan notes that:


The bill requires the office to consider "general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the citizens of Texas" when considering grant applications. The bill also requires submission of a final script to determine if changes occurred during production would conflict with these standards.

Gov. Perry (seen yukking it up with actor Dennis Quaid at last week’s bill signing) commented:

What we’re trying to do here is pretty straight forward. It’s trying to get the film industry to come and reinvest, and invest in a big way, in the state of Texas. And if the first thing that happens is we start seeing some type of censorship, then it’s not going to happen.

Ultima series creator Richard Garriott (aka Lord British) said:

This is a great first step in trying to support developers who already are in the state of Texas or might consider developing projects in the state of Texas… Our industry doesn’t have a very sophisticated lobbying process. I do believe the legislators that have carried this through for us have done so in spite of the utter lack of lobbying.

Rodney Gibbs, an exec with Austin-based Amaze Entertainment (Lord of the Rings Tactics, The Sims 2 DS) said that Texas developers struggled to distance themselves from the mainstream image of games as excessively violent.

What we do is mass-market mainstream family-friendly stuff. [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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