Search for a Statewide Video Game Blockbuster: New York Asks Experts, Public How To Grow its Digital Games Economic Engine

CEO Strauss Zelnick Follows Take-Two’s Grand Theft Auto V Launch with His Take on Ways Government Can Help; Joins Academics, Entrepreneurs and Industry Experts

Brooklyn, N.Y.—Within days of one of the video game industry’s biggest launches, the CEO of the company behind Grand Theft Auto V will join leading game developers, indies, venture capitalists, academics, and entrepreneurs at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) to explore how New York State can foster a blockbuster that reaches beyond a single game to the entire industry.

New York Senator Martin J. Golden (District 22), chair of the Senate Select Committee on Science, Technology, Incubation and Entrepreneurship, and NYU-Poly organized the fact-finding session so that government representatives of New York City, the Governor’s Office, and the Senate can hear from 25 of the most prominent leaders in the sector during two panel discussions on Friday, September 20, 2013.

The roundtable, entitled “Growing Computer and Video Game Development in New York,” will offer opportunities for the public to question panelists and make suggestions on how to attract and support an industry that accounted for $4.9 billion of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2009. Speakers will explore whether and how New York can grow its digital games industry to match or exceed the size of its film industry.

Other statics from the Entertainment Software Association illustrate the impact of the sector:

  • New York is among the top five states in industry employment: 5,474 direct and indirect jobs.
  • The average compensation for an entertainment software industry employee in New York was $96,062.
  • From 2005 to 2009, the entertainment software industry’s annual growth exceeded 10 percent, compared to 2 percent growth for the entire U.S. economy.

“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.  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.”

“NYU and NYU-Poly have emerged among the top universities in the country in game design, and this autumn we brought together all our graduate programs in Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center under the Media and Games Network (MAGNET) to provide offices, studio and work spaces, teaching labs, and research areas,” said Katepalli R. Sreenivasan, president of NYU-Poly and dean of NYU engineering. “These Roundtables continue our tradition of collaboration with government and the professional digital games community and our commitment to helping New York grow through the application of technology. We heartily welcome this important discussion.”

Game developers will include:

  • Strauss Zelnick, chairman and CEO of Take-Two, developer of Grand Theft Auto
  • Tom Akel, executive producer and editor of MTV Digital
  • Asi Burak, co-president of Games for Change (G4C) and co-producer of the Annual Games for Change Festival in New York
  • Ian Cheng of the Grasshopper Project, developer of touchscreen game table
  • Rob Grossberg, CEO of mobile web gaming company TreSensa
  • Kati London, senior researcher at Microsoft Research’s FUSE Labs
  • Kenny Rosenblatt, CEO and co-founder of game studio Arkadium
  • Wade Tinney, co-founder of Large Animal Games
  • Nik Mikros, CEO of game studios SMASHWORX and Tiny Mantis Entertainment
  • Mathieu Nouzareth, CEO of FreshPlanet, developer of the music mobile game SongPop
  • Syed Salahuddin, founder of the video game collective Babycastles and adjunct professor at NYU and NYU-Poly
  • Jason Schreiber, veteran developer and founder of Powerhead Games
  • Greg Trefry, co-founder of game design studio Gigantic Mechanic
  • Margaret Wallace, CEO of Playmatics, developer of interactive experiences for a variety of platforms
  • Jamin Warren, founder of video game and arts and culture company Kill Screen.

The morning session will be facilitated by Senator Golden; Bob Herz, director of the Senate Select Committee on Science, Technology, Incubation, & Entrepreneurship; and Katherine Isbister, director of the Social Game Lab at NYU-Poly, an investigator in the NYU Games for Learning Institute, and an Advisory Committee member of the NYU Game Center.. Among the morning panelists will be:

  • Eric Gertler, executive vice president for the New York City Economic Development Corporation and managing Director for the city’s Center for Economic Transformation
  • Brad Hargreaves, co-founder of General Assembly
  • David Hochman, consultant in tech-based economic development and executive director of the Business Incubator Association of New York State
  • Erik Huey, senior vice president for government affairs of the Entertainment Software Association
  • Frank Rimalovski, managing director of the NYU Innovation Venture Fund and founder and executive director of the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute
  • Joost van Dreunen, co-founder and CEO of the online research firm SuperData and adjunct professor at NYU.

The afternoon roundtable will be facilitated by Herz and Frank Lantz, an associate arts professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and director of the NYU Game Center. Among the panelists will be:

  • Cindy Au, head of community at Kickstarter
  • Micah Kotch, NYU-Poly director of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Registration is required here.
For more information about the event, click here.
The Roundtables will be live-streamed here.