New York aiming to grow its development scene

Senator Martin J. Golden, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, and other industry members to hold panel discussions this week on how state can elevate its development business.

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The state of New York wants to be a bigger player for game development and will hold panel discussions this week to examine how it can grow its foothold in the multibillion-dollar business.

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New York Senator Martin J. Golden and NYU-Poly have organized fact-finding sessions so that government representatives of New York City, the Governor's Office, and the Senate can hear from 25 "industry leaders" during two panel presentations on Friday, September 20.

The list of industry leaders attending the event is headlined by Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, whose subsidiary Rockstar Games released the long-awaited Grand Theft Auto V this week. Others attending include MTV Digital executive producer Tom Akel, Games for Change co-president Asi Burak, and Kickstarter community head Cindy Au.

The roundtable is titled "Growing Computer and Video Game Development in New York," and speakers will discuss whether and how New York can grow its digital games industry to "match or exceed the size of its film industry."

According to Entertainment Software Association data, New York is among the top five states in industry employment with 5,474 direct and indirect jobs. The average compensation for New York game developers is $96,602.

In a statement, Golden explained that New York falls behind other game development hubs like California, Texas, and Washington. He said New York can and should do better.

"The gaming software industry is large and growing and New York State can claim an increasing share for our citizens," Golden said. "At present, New York State lags behind California, Texas, and Washington in the number of companies, employees, and contribution to the economy. We have about one-tenth the number of game software employees as California and one-tenth of California's gaming software's contribution of $2.16 billion to the state economy. Even Texas has twice the economic impact and twice the number of employees of New York. Clearly we can do better. We have the talent and we have the people."

"The purpose of these Roundtables is to create policy and program that will make us the center of the game software universe," he added. " When companies and gaming entrepreneurs think of gaming software, we want them to think of New York State. We are taking our first steps to make that happen with this Roundtable."

Other prominent New York-based developers include Avalanche Studios (New York City) and Vicarious Visions (Albany).

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