The US video game industry is growing every year, both geographically and financially.
Americans love video games. With more than two-thirds of US households owning a device they use to play video games, you can find Americans enjoying their favorite pastime in all 50 states. In recent years, the same can be said of Americans making video games.
Video game companies have more than 2,700 locations across all 50 states and Washington, DC, and 84 percent of congressional districts, adding millions of dollars to state economies across the nation. More than 220,000 people are employed by the US video game industry, and that number is increasing from California and Texas to Michigan and Kentucky.
The US video game industry is growing every year, both geographically and financially. In 2017, the industry generated a record $36 billion in revenue, up 16 percent from $30.4 billion in 2016.
“The spectacular growth of our industry in 2017 proves video game developers, artists, and storytellers are the brightest lights in the US economy, finding more ways to delight the world’s 2.6 billion gamers each year,” said Michael D. Gallagher. “Congratulations to our industry’s brilliant creators on delivering another record year of remarkable entertainment that inspired the passion of gamers everywhere.”
Jobs in the video game industry are high paying, offering an average compensation of $97,000 a year. Motivated by financial security and their passion, eager young Americans who grew up playing video games have driven even greater geographic diversity through increased demand for college and university video game programs across the country. The US is now home to more than 500 college and university video game programs, available in 46 states.
Serving the business and public affairs needs of a growing video game industry requires a geographically diverse approach to ESA’s activities as well. In 2017, ESA launched an invaluable tool for engaging, educating, and making allies of leaders in all levels of government across the country – www.areweinyourstate.org. An interactive map that showcases the scale of the US video game industry, the website localizes industry statistics for users and was even awarded a prestigious People’s Voice Webby for best association website.
“ESA used its interactive map to show every US senator and state governor that they have at least one company making video games in their state, a statistic that positioned ESA to advocate nationwide on issues important to the industry,” said ESA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Erik Huey. “All politics are local, and this interactive tool allowed ESA to better engage policymakers and their staff at home in their districts and facilitate interactions between elected officials and video game companies and college and university programs.”
ESA attended and hosted events in states around the country – including New York, Illinois, Texas, California, and Massachusetts – leveraging them to contextualize the video game industry for legislators and other decision makers. The Bullock Texas State History Museum’s Pong to Pokémon: The Evolution of Electronic Gaming exhibition is one such example. Sponsored by Nintendo’s Retro Studios, the exhibition ran from July 2017 to March 2018. Throughout its run, ESA toured the exhibit with elected officials from Texas and discussed with them the video game industry in the state, its economic impact, and the benefits of continuous funding of the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program.
ESA’s partnerships also played an important role in 2017 advocacy efforts, as well as meeting the video game industry’s other needs. The Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA) provides policymakers an important academic perspective on the video game industry and helps ESA connect them with colleges and universities in their districts. A nationwide network of college and university faculty, students, and affiliates, HEVGA underscores the cultural, scientific, and economic importance of video game programs in colleges and universities.
HEVGA is also one of many ESA partners crucial to nurturing a geographically diverse talent pipeline for the growing video game industry. Many recipients of ESA Foundation grants, which in 2017, included Brown University’s Bootstrap, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, iCivics, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Extra Life and Vision Quest, likewise contribute to the health of the video game industry’s talent pool nationwide.
“ESA Foundation grants deliver unique opportunities for America’s youth to explore their own potential and that of video game careers,” said Anastasia Staten, executive director of the ESA Foundation. “We take pride in funding organizations demonstrating the educational power of video games and working with them to build a pipeline of future game developers.”
In 2017, ESA Foundation support for Boys & Girls Clubs of America provided much-needed science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) opportunities to K-12 students in communities across the nation. The organization’s STEM strategy, which reaches 4,200 club locations and 54,000 youth, encourages critical thinking, exploration, and problem solving, preparing students to find creative solutions to both real-life and STEM challenges.
America’s love of video games will continue in 2018. Thanks to the hard work of ESA in 2017, the industry is better prepared to strengthen that relationship in both 2018 and the years to come.