Gaming industry continues to grow in Georgia

(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Georgia's aggressive attempt to attract filmmakers to the state has proven to be successful. Now, under a bill that has already passed the Georgia House, video game companies will also get a break for setting-up shop.

"I specifically remember sitting down on the couch with my grandmother when I was 2 years old and her showing me a portable version of Pacman and I thought it was the coolest thing ever," said Henry Harrison.

Harrison has been a gamer most of his life, and now the senior at SCAD is making video games. He's showing me one that he and a team of fellow students have brought to fruition in just a matter of weeks.

"I definitely like the fact that we can use games in so many ways, not just a form of entertainment, but also as a way of telling stories, of engaging with people, of being able to connect with others," said Harrison.

He is one of more than 700 students enrolled in SCAD's different campuses in the Design and Game Development degree program.

"The video game industry has always been incredibly competitive and it's not slowing down," said SCAD Professor Jack Mamias.

Per the Entertainment Software Association, employment in the video game industry grew at annual rate of 2.9 percent—double the rate of the U.S. job market—supports 220,000 jobs, and rakes in $30.4 billion in revenue.

"The engines make the games way more powerful. Games are becoming much more realistic. We are seeing aspects like virtual reality and augmented reality become important. And they have just become so mass market that everyone is playing them and it's massive," said Prof. Mamias.

He says he's excited about efforts that could expand the video industry here in Georgia and keep more of his SCAD students like Henry working here at home.

"I definitely want to get out there and impress some pretty big people in the industry and be able to put my foot in the door and say I'm ready to help you guys and to help make one of the next great things," said Harrison.

House Bill 199—known as the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act—would offer a 20 percent tax credit to companies pursuing film, video or digital work in the state.

It has now moved to the Georgia Senate.

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