Group Hopes to Turn Philadelphia Into a Gaming Mecca

While other American cities and states have been courting the video game industry with incentives and tax breaks in recent years, Philadelphia has largely stood on the sidelines.

But, as Philadelphia City Paper reports, a small team is hoping to change that equation by convincing government officials that encouraging video game development would prevent brain drain and bring jobs and tax dollars to the local economy.

The Videogame Growth Initiative Philadelphia recently pitched its case to state government officials at a meeting in the City of Brotherly Love. From the City Paper’s coverage:

The group has two hours to convince representatives of state government that it’s worth creating new incentives to lure video game companies to Philly… 


Philly might be an ideal city to take advantage of this opportunity. Currently, many video game studios are based out of Silicon Valley, Boston or New York. Philly’s comparably low cost of living is attractive. What’s more… Philly has… [at] the University of Pennsylvania… the only Ivy League game development program in the country, and graduates are routinely poached by large West Coast-based gaming companies…

There are, however, significant obstacles. The Pennsylvania legislature hasn’t been able to reach agreement on a budget which should have been in place by July 1st. The city of Philadelphia itself is habitually in dire financial straits; earlier this week Mayor Michael Nutter warned that he may have to lay off more than a thousand cops and fire fighters.

While state officials suggested that the group try to push already-existing business incentives to entice video game firms, VGI member Hardik Bhatt, himself a developer, was skeptical:

That’s still not enough, it’s not like other cities don’t have these kinds of incentives. I’m hoping it doesn’t take a studio to look into the city and decide to go somewhere else for them to change their minds.

GP: As a Philly native, I pondered the same issue in a November, 2006 column for Joystiq…

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  1. 0
    Neo_DrKefka says:
    Philadelphia still has a lot of taxes even if they gave game designing companies a break people would still have to move and live there. And the city is like all in the Rust Belt. It’s old you’ll be surrounding by a ghetto not to mention schools which are not that are and your pretty much sending your kid in with a bunch of hooligans who act like they are in a County Prison.

    Texas is a good choice but recently they have had a lot of carpet bagger Democrats move there and sadly they are starting to elect the same people who set policies and laws that ruined there own state there. 

  2. 0
    JustChris says:

    Yes, having another option for game developers to work at is of great important. Woe are the aspiring game developers who live in the South. Their best bet for a high profile job is to move to Texas.


  3. 0
    KayleL says:

    I could see Montreal or Vancouver becoming the gaming Mecca. Philly, not so much. But really, I don’t think we are going to have the gaming Hollywood.

  4. 0
    MrKlorox says:

    A gaming Mecca would be a place that gamers from all over the world would want to travel to once in their life. And that place is E3… well it was up until 2007.

    What this group hopes to create is more of a gaming Vatican or a gaming Salt Lake City.

  5. 0
    Flamespeak says:

    "Mayor Michael Nutter warned that he may have to lay off more than a thousand cops and fire fighters."

    Thank God he is getting rid of those unneccessary positions instead of just laying down a pay cut to political positions or anything like that. It isn’t like people commit crimes or fires occur in Philly afterall.

  6. 0
    Skillz817 says:

    Will people just make games I don’t care what city in the U.S. the game is made. The only obvious difference I’ll be able to point out is the country like western games made in NA/CA and eastern games made in JP I’m not gonna open a game and say "Oh is this game was made a philly"

  7. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Philly does need _something_ done.  Recruiting and retention are a nightmare.

    Right now if you want game developers you need to hire them from out of state.  When people quit local game companies they tend to leave the region.  There is almost no social networking between companies and few developers here even know what other companies are local!  This is esp frustrating given how many cool things are being done in this area, esp in the realm of seroius or military games.

    The local IGDA has helped quite a bit, but few companies have members that particpate in it.

    Unfortunatly the local tech culture is highly oriented to banking and biomedical.

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