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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

November 19, 2008 at 5:44 PM

Video game industry to state lawmakers: Keep funding higher ed

While Steve Ballmer was making his case to Microsoft shareholders this morning, representatives of the state’s video game industry were across the street at Bellevue City Hall, making their pitch to Lt. Gov. Brad Owen and the state Legislative Committee on Economic Development and International Relations.

The electeds were reviewing the economics of the video game industry. It was also a chance for the industry to strut its stuff while state budget proposals are being developed.

Although other cities and countries are trying to lure game companies, the Seattle area is doing pretty well. It’s among the world centers for game development, with more than 150 companies employing more than 15,000 people.

Washington also ranked the second best state in the nation for its “new economy” climate, in a report issued today by the Washington, D.C.-based Information Technology & Information Foundation. The state gained two spots from the group’s 2007 report, trailing only perennial leader Massachusetts.

Continued support of education was one concern mentioned by panelists including Jason Robar, founder of Issaquah game company The Amazing Society, and Raymond Yan, chief operating officer of DigiPen in Redmond.

Game companies already benefit from state research and development tax breaks. Given the economic situation, they’re not going to be asking the state for much more in 2009, said Lew McMurran, WTIA vice president for government affairs.

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