New York State of gaming: Ready to level up

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A silhouette outlined against huge screens displaying a League of Legends tournament

A man stands in the rows during the final of League of Legends tournament between Team G2 Esports and Team FunPlus Phoenix, in Paris, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019. The biggest esports event of the year saw a Chinese team, FunPlus Phoenix, crowned as world champions of the video game League of Legends. Thousands of fans packed a Paris arena for the event, which marked another step forward for the growing esports business. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Most people who tried to buy a gaming console in the last year know the vast world of gaming is growing ever more popular. It’s become so popular that local game producers, colleges, high schools, and legislators have been trying to get in on the action by making New York the place for game makers, successful esports programs, and programs to help the industry flourish in the state.

The gaming industry and esports have been gaining more footing in New York, with traction growing in the Capital District specifically in recent years. It was also aided by the COVID pandemic as people looked for ways to stay busy at home.

New York fell just out of the top 10 for most gamers per capita, coming in at 11 in a recent report from GetCenturyLink. It did come in first for one particular area in the report- most meetup gaming groups followed by New Jersey, California, Washington, and Massachusetts.

Some area colleges and high schools have seen potential in esports putting time and money into the creation of esport teams. Six local colleges including SUNY Albany, Bryant and Stratton, SUNY Poly and, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, participate in the Eastern College Athletic Conference’s (ECAC) Esports division, according to its website.

Eight local high schools are a part of the Gaming Insomniacs League (GIL), including Amsterdam, Gloversville, Rensselaer, and Troy High Schools. GIL, based in Schenectady, partners with ECAC for Hudson Valley Gamer Con.

Top ten states for most gamers per capita

  1. Maryland
  2. New Jersey
  3. California
  4. Texas
  5. Delaware
  6. Massachusetts
  7. Washington
  8. Utah
  9. Illinois
  10. Pennsylvania

*Source: GetCenturyLink

More than 400 participants battled it out last October at the 2020 Hudson Valley Gamer Con held at the Albany Capital Center. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s team won by playing the popular game Overwatch.

Hudson Valley Community College’s (HVCC) esport program took off just last year. The college announced Bob Stranahan as the program’s first coach in August 2020 and the team finished up its inaugural season in May. HVCC’s esport team is part of the National Junior College Athletic Association Esports.

For these high school and college students who want to compete professionally or on the world stage, there could be some solid financial awards with some tournaments paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Esports Earnings.

Whatever is on the horizon for the gaming industry it’s clear it can evolve with the times, growing with technology, and becoming a dominant player in local and state economies.

Besides hefty payouts in tournaments, there’s also plenty of money to be had in gaming development. Digital game development in New York is s $930+ million dollar industry, making it fourth in the nation for gaming development, according to Empire State Development.

Velan Studios co-owner Karthik Bala, told NEWS10 in May 2020 that he wants to see New York in the number one spot. Mario Kart Live and Knockout City were both developed at Velan Studios. The company, based in downtown Troy, was founded in 2016 by Bala and his brother Guha.

Senator Chuck Schumer paid a visit to Velan Studios at the beginning of June 2021 to support its efforts and the efforts of the Center for Economic Growth, Rensselaer County Industrial Development Agency, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in getting federal money to support the Game On Accelerator Program.

Funding for the program would help create 350 well-paying jobs in game development and encourage those participating to create their own companies, according to Sen. Schumer.

“The gaming industry generates hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue and shows no signs of slowing down. Internationally recognized companies, like Velan Studios, have taken root in the Capital Region, setting the area up to be a potential hub for game development and turbocharging the local economy, creating hundreds of new jobs,” Sen. Schumer said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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