Columbus Gamemakers Aren’t Playing Around

By Mary Sterenberg - Columbus CEO Magazine

Video game development is serious business, and its champions believe it will be big business in central Ohio.

Video games are big business. In Ohio alone, they’re $43 million big. Globally, we’re talking $91 billion—more than the music and movie industries combined—and growing rapidly.

It’s an industry that extends far beyond entertainment games. It includes creative technology such as mobile experiences, virtual reality, eSports, 3D printing and motion capture, and it has the potential to reach into nearly every other industry.

Cities such as San Francisco, Austin and New York City, with reputations as hubs for the gaming industry, draw top talent, add more jobs and benefit from a booming revenue stream.

For the last six years, Columbus-based Multivarious Games has been developing not only games out of its Franklinton office. It also has been developing relationships and the start of a local ecosystem of related businesses that could make central Ohio a major player in the explosive game development industry.

Its newest initiative aims to raise $10 million toward economic and workforce development to add 20 new businesses and 100 new jobs over the next five years. CEO Chris Volpe says he hopes the effort can turn Columbus into what he calls the Silicon Valley of Gaming.

John Bowditch, who teaches game development and design at Ohio University in Athens, shares Volpe’s vision for turning central Ohio into a top center for the industry. Until then, he jokes “we’ve been a powerful, driving force for the economy of California. We would train these excellent students and they would head west immediately upon graduation because there was no opportunity here.”

That reality has prompted OU to invest in recent years to “start helping students create those opportunities here,” Bowditch says. One focus is to develop “an environment of entrepreneurship that makes them want to do a startup company if they choose to.” A Business of Games Summit on Sept. 14 will bring 10 alumni-based studios from across Ohio to campus to show students “what it looks like to start a games studio or a virtual reality studio in the Midwest,” Bowditch says. Read the rest of the article.