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Innovation & Startups

Make room Austin, Pittsburgh gaming companies are gaining momentum

A cottage industry of nearly a dozen gaming companies is flourishing in the region.

While Schell Games on the South Side has quietly grown to 60 employees since 2002, another 10 gaming companies are plugging away: SlateXP, eGenesis, Electric Owl Studios, Evil Genius Designs, SilverTree Media, Left Right Studios, Sim Ops Studios, Bossa Nova, Interbots and MechAnimal. And rumor has it another group is moving here from Florida.

In addition, an International Game Developers Association (IGDA) chapter was revitalized in 2004 and has about 180 members, serving the professional and social needs of the local game community with a calendar of regular events and popular fall studio crawl.

"People may not realize how cool the gaming industry is here," says Jake Witherell, COO of Schell. "It's a very tight-knit community and bigger than people think."

Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center's unique two year Masters of Entertainment Technology helps to keep game developers in supply, along with the Art Institute's media arts curriculum.

"Pittsburgh has a chance to be the next Austin," Witherell adds. "With CMU's Entertainment Technology Center and companies like Schell Games, Pittsburgh can be a force in the entertainment technology industry. There's incredible talent, people, artists and a low cost of living. Those are the perfect ingredients."

"I'm a big fan of the Pittsburgh game development community, and I've seen it grow to quite a substantial force," says gamer Shawn Patton. "I think we have one of the most active chapters out there and believe there's much more we can accomplish!"

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Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Jake Witherell, Shawn Patton, Schell Games

Image courtesy of Schell Games

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