Aug 27, 2015

Video Game Industry Meet-Up fuels momentum around Madison’s gaming cluster


Madison, Wis.—A capacity crowd of more than 75 people attended last night’s Video Game Industry & Higher Ed Meet-Up to discuss growing the Madison Region’s gaming industry and creating an innovation ecosystem for video games. The event was held at Filament Games as part of the 2015 Forward Fest and was planned and co-sponsored by Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP), the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), and the Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA).

Madison is a city with gaming opportunities and gaming talents,” notes City of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin. “Our residents have the skills to create games of entertainment and games of impact. Thanks in part to the talent at Epic, our IT sector is exploding, and gaming is an integral part of that. I am thrilled with the energy that has been growing and the potential for Madison to be a major player in the gaming world.” 

Last night’s conversation at this first-ever local industry meet-up centered on establishing an understanding of current assets, identifying gaps and barriers, and forming a coalition to help develop, brand, and lead the local gaming industry cluster. 

“We had an awesome evening of connecting people who care passionately about games and about Madison,” comments Lee Wilson, CEO of Filament Games. “We ‘found’ a vibrant scene that is already here and surfaced some exciting ideas about how to take it to the next level.”

“This was a fantastic step toward making Madison more well-known on the world gaming scene, notes Timothy Gerritsen, Director of Business Development at Human Head Studios. “Human Head is thrilled to be a part of building that scene.” 

The region’s gaming industry has been gaining momentum over recent years, with a handful of anchor companies like Raven Software, Filament Games, PerBlue, and Human Head Studios growing steadily in the Madison area and at least 15 additional start-up companies taking root. Training and education in the gaming industry is available locally through programs at UW-Madison, UW-Whitewater, UW-Stout, Madison College, Madison Media Institute, and Herzing University.

“We’re excited to see Madison become a virtual reality hub of innovation,” says Jon Brouchoud, CEO of Arch Virtual. “As we prepare to take Arch Virtual to the next level, this event couldn’t have been more timely, and we’re looking forward to the exciting opportunities to come. This was a very inspiring event.” 

Participants of the meet-up mapped out next steps for continuing the conversation and growing the cluster, including issues related to talent and skills, education, physical space, capital access, business technical assistance, public policy, and branding and marketing. It was clear that participants want to continue this dialogue as soon as possible and on an ongoing basis. Therefore, the consortium will plan an immediate follow-up meeting hosted by a Madison gaming company. 

“Madison has many of the necessary ingredients to build a solid gaming cluster,” observesConstance Steinkuehler, Co-Director of UW-Madison’s Games+Learning+Society and Executive Director of the Higher Education Video Game Alliance. ”We just need some coordination and intentionality behind shaping an ecosystem that will continue to build upon our critical mass and create a density that can compete with the coasts. This meet-up represents an important first milestone in that process and we could not be happier to have MadREP and ESA as partners in making this happen.” 

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