Student working in Rochester Institute of Technology's 2D animation lab.

Spring Highlights in the Digital Game Development Industry

From the days of Pac-Man and Nintendo 64 to 21st century virtual and augmented reality games and special effects, digital gaming has become an $11.7 billion industry nationwide. New York State is recognized as an industry leader, fostering creative talent and innovation—and is ranked #4 in the country for jobs in digital game development.   

This spring marks the 10th year that The Princeton Review reviewed and ranked undergraduate and graduate game design programs. For the fourth year in a row, five New York schools were ranked in the top undergraduate programs list: New York University (NYU), Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Marist College and Cornell University. This is also the fourth consecutive year that both NYU and RIT’s respective undergraduate and graduate programs ranked in the top 10, with NYU earning the #1 spot on the graduate programs list for the first time. RPI made the list for the 10th consecutive year. Rankings were determined based on academics, faculty, technology and career prospects, analyzing everything from course offerings and facilities to graduates’ starting salaries and professional achievements.

As of this spring semester, NYU, RIT and RPI are all operating as New York State Centers of Excellence (CoE) in Digital Game Development. Since the digital gaming hubs were established in 2016, with support from Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR), they have created and retained more than 120 jobs and assisted in the development of more than 110 games.

Complementing New York’s first-class digital game development academic programs, the state is also home to hundreds of game development companies, including Vicarious Visions, Velan Studios, 2nd Ave Learning, Avalanche Studios, PUBG MadGlory and Workinman Interactive.

In addition to universities and businesses, events and conferences are vital to New York’s digital game development ecosystem.

The Capital Region, home to RPI and a growing hub of game development, is drawing gaming-related events to the state. Hudson Valley Gamer Con, the largest collegiate e-sports event in the Northeast, showcased New York’s digital game development industry and academic strength in March when it welcomed 2,500 gamers to Albany. Last month, NYU sent representatives to Games Week Berlin where they gave talks and highlighted New York’s successes and opportunities in this $130+ billion worldwide industry.

In March 2020, New York State will be the first in the nation to lead a statewide coordinated presence at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, the world’s largest professional game industry event. GDC brings together 28,000 attendees to exchange ideas and influence the future of game development through networking, lectures, panels, tutorials, roundtable discussions and an exposition of the latest game development technology. ESD will lead a contingent of schools and businesses at the conference with a goal of demonstrating all that New York has to offer aspiring game designers and developers in pursuit of a top-ranked education, existing companies looking to relocate near world-class talent and entrepreneurs looking for a home to build their new game development business.

Through nation-leading educational programs, university-based Centers of Excellence, interactive networking conferences, thriving studios and more, New York State is investing in the advancement of the game development industry—not only connecting businesses and top talent, but ultimately connecting people all over the world through digital gaming.

ESD is currently soliciting feedback, information and ideas to help shape New York’s GDC role in 2020 and beyond. If you’ve attended or considered attending GDC as an individual, firm, or organization, please share your experiences, goals, reasons and challenges by emailing us at [email protected]


Photo credit: A. Sue Weisler / ​RIT