Five years ago, you could find Joey Davidson’s name right here in the virtual pages of Technical.ly, as the Delaware lead reporter.
Davidson, who still lives in Wilmington, decided to pivot from a decade in journalism to the marketing side of the gaming industry – a move that nearly meant moving away from Delaware.
“I had covered the industry remotely for a bunch of different sites, and then when I left [journalism] I wanted to get into marketing,” Davidson told Technical.ly. “I worked at an agency for a while, but the ambition was always that I wanted to go back to games. My wife and I toyed with moving; we were totally cool with moving to Seattle or wherever. It wasn’t until a remote opportunity popped up that we’re like, ‘Oh, we can stay.'”
The COVID-19 pandemic was the driving factor for the Massachusetts-based Fire Hose Games to, like so many other tech companies, adapt by switching to remote work and eventually hiring people to work remotely from other parts of the country.
“Without remote work, I wouldn’t be able to work in my industry and live in Delaware,” Davidson said.
‘Why wouldn’t Delaware want this?’
While Delaware has a few game studios, most notably Momiji Studios and its Video Game Fables, they’re small enough that positions like Davidson’s current role as marketing manager for Fire Hose Games, don’t exist — and if they do, they’re rare.
Since starting the job in February, Davidson has been focused on Firehose’s main pipeline: Techtonica, a building game where players build underground factories in an alien world.
“There’s so much money in the gaming industry, and it attracts such diverse and intelligent talent,” Davidson said. “My office [at Fire Hose] is super freakin’ diverse. They’re also the smartest people I’ve ever worked with. And it’s just — why wouldn’t Delaware want this?”
There are definitely people in Delaware who want it, like homegrown startup Futures First Gaming. Still, Davidson says doesn’t see the industry taking hold in Delaware in the near future — not because it’s impossible, but because it takes a long time and patience for the industry to grow anywhere.
“It’s a slow burn,” he stressed, noting that Fire Hose, whose previous titles include the multi-platform first-person cat simulator Catlateral Damage, was launched by MIT grads in 2008. “I don’t know that people recognize that the incubation period for a video game is a lot longer than a lot of other things.”
Remote brings new access to the gaming industry — and more opportunity to Delaware
The industry is massive, and remote work makes it more accessible than ever.
“It’s funny, there was kind of like a turning point,” Davidson said of his recent job search. “I consciously had this epiphany — it just sort of hit me that everyone is remote, and that applies not just for the massive of organizations, but also the really small ones. There are small studios in big cities all around the country. The possibility of applying to places in Boston and North Carolina and Florida opened up.”
These remote jobs may draw many times the number of applications they once would when they were region specific, but Davidson believes it’s still worth going for it if you’re well-qualified.
With enough funding and patience, the hybrid model could could be a good fit for Delaware in the future. The state is relatively inexpensive, and close to major East Coast cities. It could potentially draw both local developers coming out of programs like the University of Delaware and Wilmington University, transplants from other cities and remote workers from all over the world.
But it will take a real, intentional investment and long-term commitment.
“If I had all the money in the world, I would probably spend it on getting an organization to open a studio here,” Davidson said. “Let the developers come to Delaware and say, ‘Look, if you open up a Delaware studio and hire five people to work here, we’ll help you make it to that first three or five years of funding that you’ll need.'”
“If Wilmington in 10 years became a hub for esports, that would be pretty unbelievable — in a good way,” he said. “I think it has a lot to offer.”
In the meantime, Fire Hose games recently released the Techtonica trailer. The game can now be wishlisted on Steam.