Quick. Think of a US state that’s known for its video game development. Places like California, New York, Illinois, and Georgia might be some of the first places that your mind conjures up, with the cities of Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco located somewhere in their midst. However, with no disrespect to the state intended, it’s perhaps a little less likely that Pennsylvania would be the first word off your tongue.
A Different Approach to Interactive Media
The Keystone State has become an important part of the United States’ game development landscape in recent years, though, with rumblings of its future success beginning in the middle of the last decade. With some excitement, the PA.gov website recorded that Pennsylvania’s video game industry contributed $83m to the state’s coffers back in 2015, following overall growth of 26% between 2009-12.
That might sound like a paltry sum compared to the several billion dollars Grand Theft Auto developer Rockstar made for Scotland and the UK over roughly the same period. But Philadelphia is still emerging from its metaphorical cocoon. Many of the studios within the state’s boundaries, such as Skyless Games and Simcoach, are arguably taking a different approach to interactive media, too.
To use the example of the latter, Pittsburgh-based Simcoach Games has the mission of building games that help people learn job-relevant skills. While this type of ‘edutainment’ does fly under the radar somewhat, the global industry is expected to break $10m by the end of the current decade. Aspects of construction, nursing, and even selecting an outfit for business are covered by Simcoach’s app catalog.
The Backdrop for Blockbuster Games
Of course, any discussion of the entertainment in PA inevitably brings up the newly legalized casino and sports betting scene. Pennsylvania is one of the largest contributors to the United States’ casino industry, falling just behind gaming paradise Nevada. In fact, according to the Playing Legal website, several major brands, including BetMGM, FanDuel, and Unibet occupy the Pennsylvania online sports betting sector.
While it’s not possible to bet on the increasingly popular eSports niche (otherwise known as competitive video gaming) yet, wagering on soccer, wrestling, golf, tennis, and motorsports is possible on several sports betting websites in PA. It’s undeniable, therefore, that Pennsylvania’s online entertainment offerings are varied and eclectic. So, it’s fair to say that overall, Pennsylvania’s gaming scene, which encompasses online gambling as well as the development of triple-A franchises being the exception rather than the norm, is somewhat atypical.
For better or worse, the state has served as the backdrop for many blockbuster games, including The Last of Us, Homefront: The Revolution, Left 4 Dead 2, and the Fallout 3 expansion, The Pitt, which envisages Pittsburgh as a vast dystopic factory. Why the idea of blowing up and/or infesting the state with zombies is such a popular idea among developers is one best left alone. It doesn’t change the fact that Pennsylvania is a fertile landscape for the creation of entertainment of all different types, from edutainment and sports betting to numerous indie darlings.