Montpelier's Chris Hancock is a 20-year veteran video game developer. Unlike the shoot 'em up, first-person games that many associate with video games, the MIT-educated programmer's passion lies in children's education. Like a rhyming game he's working on for the toddler set.
"There is an aha moment when you think of a concept that's really simple but really powerful that's going to work," Hancock said.
Hancock and six other programmers share space in Local 64, a co-working space that opened on State Street just last year. He says the incubator space and others like it are prime examples of a growing industry in Vermont.
"I think that Vermont has a tremendous ability to attract or potential to attract more people who develop games because they're looking for the great quality of place that we have here," Hancock said.
Up the street at the Statehouse Wednesday, Hancock and a dozen other game developers were showing off their labors to lawmakers. It's all part of an effort by Vermont Game Developers and a group of lawmakers to secure $75,000 in state funding to help market the industry here and lure some of the talent from places like Montreal, which has captured a sizable chunk of the $52 billion worldwide industry.
"We're at a moment when marketing Vermont as a great place for entrepreneurs to build small game development studios and to encourage our students to remain in Vermont and pursue their own entrepreneurial dreams can make a big difference," said Jackie Weyrauch, a game developer.
Lawmakers said that just like the ski industry, which receives promotional funding from the state, nurturing the developing video game industry could pay huge economic dividends.
"This is one that is actually a small footprint, it brings a lot of jobs and it's sustainable," said Sen. John Campbell, D-Vt. President Pro Tem.
"We can get out in front as the place to bring your game business or the place to start your game business and that what I'm hoping we'll do," Hancock said.
Efforts to make Vermont a winner in the gaming game.
Game developers say Champlain College plays a vital role in attracting the industry to Vermont. The school has gaming and emergent media programs.
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