Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"Digital Media Initiatives"

The Independent notices a meeting I attended recently to help strategize ways to bring video game production to Lafayette and Louisiana. Video gaming production is already a large industry which promises to only grow—and to provide good-paying jobs. According to an article in Biz New Orleans:
Video games and simulations typically take one to two years to produce and can cost up to $50 million. The majority of the production budget is spent on computer programmers, graphic artists and technicians, according to Greater New Orleans Inc.

The average starting salary in this field is $54,300 with average regular salaries of $75,000.
It's not just about video games, as attractive as that business might be; games also tend to push the envelope on technologies that later get pulled into more conventional applications.
Firefly Digital owner Mike Spears helped pull together the first strategy session. "We want to position Lafayette in the state landscape,"he says. "This isn't just about entertainment. There are educational and business applications that can be developed in a video game environment." He is also meeting this week with representatives of the tech communities from Baton Rouge and New Orleans: "We hope to develop a state strategy so we don't duplicate efforts."
The immediate issue is "workforce development" --building the educational pipeline and cultural surround that produces people the industry wants to hire. In that regard Lafayette is well positioned with at least the start of a pretty comprehensive framework ranging from Ninjaneering's "Game Camp" to a tech high school to specialized game programs at UL.

This all comes up as a consequence of a new law, the Louisiana Digital Media Act, which gives tax credits to video game production similar to the successful law which does the same for movies--a law which has been imitated by a number of other states.

Lots coming together here...pervasive bandwidth, education, tax credits, and a vigorous tech community willing to aggressively pursue Lafayette's interests.

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