New York’s game sector is growing, though certainly more slowly than the area’s boosters would like to see. Though both the city and game companies want to build up the sector, they’re challenged by a lack of programmers and few tax breaks in an area where it’s notoriously expensive to set up shop. Since many game firms are startups, those hurdles can be especially difficult to clear.
The entire state’s video game sector represents just 5 percent of the industry’s activity, compared to 40 percent for the leader, California. The Entertainment Software Association, the industry’s trade group, says about 5,500 people in New York work in video games, directly or indirectly.
In New York City, says WNET’s MetroFocus, there were an estimated 30 game development companies as of 2008, with another 55 businesses involved in the wider game world.
“Lack of programmers is not specific to New York City,” Paul Dix, a freelance programmer and co-founder of Movable Ink, told Metrofocus. “But larger firms in Silicon Valley and finance companies in New York lure fresh graduates more so than startups.” (Still, it’s worth noting that many tech professionals in the financial world are getting tired of the industry’s pressures.)
At least the companies have a steady stream of artists to work with, MetroFocus notes. Plus, some companies are willing to train when it’s necessary, which makes New York a better place for those who want to really learn the business. Says Jordan Trańa, a freelance junior programmer at independent developer Tiny Mantis, “We gain a lot of hands-on experience at Tiny Mantis. California firms are often larger and so most of the entry-level positions there entail a lot of busy work.”