Made in Georgia

By Ashton Johnson, Photo Credit: Wix

The economic benefits of game design for CSU students.


Have you noticed the Georgia peach logo popping up in movies, TV shows, and video games? Through this logo, the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act offers a 10% uplift on production costs. This promotional peach represents only a small fraction of the tax breaks that helped make Georgia’s film industry first in the nation. Incentives like this provide the same opportunity for our local game industry to rise to the top. Thousands of Georgians find employment in game design, and many Columbus State University students aspire to join this workforce that accounts for an economic impact of over $550 million in Georgia.

Within the past few years, several house bills have circulated through legislation, shaping the future of homegrown entertainment production companies. A few months ago, House Bill 199 was proposed to amend the title regarding revenue and taxation of interactive entertainment companies in Georgia’s statutory code. While not all proposals have been in the game industry’s favor, developers can currently enjoy tax credits up to 30%. That’s a huge deal when it comes to cutting production costs, and it’s the very reason why Atlanta became the Southern “Hollywood.” Since the Georgia Entertainment Industry Investment Act, at least 12 Georgia-based companies received about $8.3 million in tax credits (per a 2015 study). Pairing its rapid economic growth with Georgia’s generous tax breaks makes for potentially promising careers for students here on the Games Track in Computer Science.

The Georgia Game Developers Association commissioned a study titled “Economic Contributions of the Georgia Video Game Industry in 2015.” This report—written by Dr. Jay O’Toole, an Assistant Professor at Georgia State University in the department of Managerial Sciences—uncovered some impressive numbers, like that $550 million output mentioned earlier. The data shows that video game m a n u f a c t u r e r s employed 3,142 full-time workers. “The industry as a whole added an estimated 407 new jobs in Georgia in 2015 as well,” O’Toole reported. The collective employment impact (both full-time and part-time) is 11,938 jobs. As the industry expands, more jobs will become available to local graduates. If you’re one of those students, you can expect a salary of approximately $64,000 per year in some cases.

“How optimistic are you about the growth of the electronic and video game manufacturing industry in Georgia?” This question was a part of a survey sent out by O’Toole. On a five-point scale ranging from “not at all” to “very,” responses ranked four. “The median and mode response indicated people with intimate knowledge of the industry are ‘considerably’ optimistic about its growth in Georgia,” the study concluded.

Hey, future game devs: maybe you’re not so optimistic yourself. Even though it’s a booming industry, it can be hard to get a foot in the door. However, there are plenty of opportunities at Columbus State University. The catch is that students are the ones who create these opportunities. Get involved in indie projects, organize game jams, and participate in the clubs and organizations available. Game design is teamwork, and you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage without social networking. While the industry is economically massive, it’s a small world on the developer’s side. Right now, your peers are your greatest asset in earning a future in game design. Get to know them, because you guys are the next generation of game developers. Your success will be made in Georgia.