(Photo by Aidan Un)
Drexel’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio is getting a boost from the state.
Drexel is one of three Pennsylvania universities receiving a total of $750,000 from Harrisburg to bolster the state’s video game industry. Carnegie Mellon University and Harrisburg University of Science and Technology are the other schools. The three applied for the grant as a consortium.
Drexel will use the money (its share is $200,000) to expand its Entrepreneurial Game Studio, said Frank Lee, who runs the studio. He hopes the grant will help him fulfill his vision of turning Philadelphia into a mobile game hub. His Entrepreneurial Game Studio incubates mobile gaming startups run by students.
Each school will get $200,000 and the trio will share $150,000 for collaborative efforts, like hosting a statewide conference that highlights the game development in Pennsylvania.
“Like E3 but for Pennsylvania,” Lee said.
That conference is part of a marketing campaign that the three schools will work on to show off the state as a place for game developers. That’s a different approach from that of some in the indie game development community, who want to put more resources into supporting what’s already happening in Philly, versus importing big companies.
“We don’t need a Microsoft satellite studio here for a scene to grow,” said PHL Collective’s Nick Madonna.
Along with other indie game developers, Madonna and Cipher Prime’s Dain Saint are working on a new initiative (“Philly Game Forge 2.0”) to grow the local gaming community. It’s a response, they said, to how some people think that Philadelphia needs the presence of a big gaming company if the video game industry is to grow. They’re also working with Drexel’s Lee, in hopes of creating a pipeline between Lee’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio and the Game Forge 2.0 as a way to retain local talent.
The state grant is also another chapter in a years-long initiative of the local gaming community working with the state: the Video Game Growth Initiative, which existed about five years ago and has since shut down, aimed to get state tax incentives for game companies to move here.
The gaming grant comes from Gov. Tom Corbett’s “Discovered in PA — Developed in PA” program, which funded several Philadelphia region initiatives:
- DreamIt Athena, DreamIt Ventures’ women founder program
- Philadelphia Game Lab
- Benjamin Franklin Technology Partners‘ Life Sciences Connect
- Walnut St. Labs
- University City Science Center’s Digital Health Accelerator