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How Video Games Are Strengthening the U.S. Economy

One of President Obama’s favorite pieces of rhetoric is reminding the American people that they’re entangled in “the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.” And just as the movie industry offered a holiday from reality in those trying times, today video games have taken on a similar role, buoying our economy more than we’d ever give it credit for. The Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2010 Report, just released by the Entertainment Software Association, verifies as much: Positive trends of employment suggest that video games have solidly contributed to the U.S. economy.

Whereas the the economy as a whole only grew 1.4% annually from 2005 to 2009, the report notes that, in comparison, the computer and video game industries skyrocketed 10.6% per year in the same four-year period. By combing statistics from government sources and data published on gamedevmap.com, it was able to paint an encouraging picture.

According to the study, entertainment software publishing employs more than 32,000 people in 34 states, who were compensated a total of $2.9 billion in 2009 (average annual compensation per employee: $89,781). This is but a fraction of the over 120,000 whose employment is dependent on game software, whether directly or indirectly. And though publishing revenues dropped by 4.9% from 2008 to 2009, it’s worthwhile to note that the American game software industry was on the uptrend previously (9% in 2006, 9.3% in 2007, and 6.2% in 2008), and nonetheless has a value added to the nation’s GDP of $4.9 billion.

Ars Technica noted its surprise at the size of the industry in Texas, the report stating that “the six states with the greatest number of entertainment software industry employees were, in order, California, Texas, Washington, New York, Massachusetts and Illinois.” Texas, of course, houses the “Dallas Gaming Mafia,” as well as several Austin-based developers and publishers, including Bioware (Mass Effect, Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age), id Software (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake), 3D Realms (Duke Nukem, Max Payne), and Retro Studios (Metroid Prime). Let’s also not forget about smaller states with nearly as impressive pedigrees, like Maryland’s Bethesda or Firaxis, whose contribution to the state’s economy was recently recognized with an official Civilization day.

A total of $10.5 billion in retail sales were made last year, and unit sales of computer and video games have increased from 226.3 million in 2005 to over 273 million in 2009. It looks like these numbers are the irrefutable final straw for chasing our dreams: Let’s all jump ship and go work in video games.

Read the entire report at theesa.com (pdf).

(via Ars Technica)

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