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Politics & Government

PA Lawmaker Wants to Draw Game Developers to the State, Proposes Video Game Tax Credit

Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania’s film tax credit program is lauded by state and local officials as a success, and one state lawmaker wants to implement a similar tax credit program for another entertainment industry – video games.

State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) has introduced the Video Game Tax Production Credit bill aimed at attracting game developers to the state. He said the video gaming industry is huge and growing.  

“It’s traditionally thought of as a niche for the male 18 to 24 demographic, but it’s not. It’s not, it’s growing, the most rapidly expanding gaming demographic is women 35 to 55,” said Jonathan Tew, legislative director for Senator Leach.

Plus, video games themselves continue to evolve.

“Games are getting so diverse, what we traditionally think of when we think of a video game is not what every video game is, they span the spectrum. Everything from Tic Tac Toe on your iPhone to the most labor-intensive almost movie production-like games and everything in between,” said Tew.

The tax credit would be for job creation and production costs, including building a studio. Tew says Pennsylvania currently has some of the best training programs in the industry.

“Drexel and Penn and Carnegie Mellon and a lot of other universities that are training these incredible software and game developers, but then they’re leaving, they’re going to places like Boston or California to get jobs,” he said, “it would be better if they could stay in Pennsylvania, start their own studios, or big studios would locate in Pennsylvania so they could come to where the talent is.”

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the state has provided about $300 million in tax credits to production companies since the film tax credit program started in 2007. More than 18,000 jobs have been created and more than $4 billion in direct and indirect revenue has been generated.  But, Tew said movie shoots end, crews pack up and leave – and jobs disappear. That would not be the case with game developers.

“When a video game studio sets up, they set up a studio to create more than one game,” he said.

So, Tew said, those who work in the area will live in the area, buy houses, do their shopping and contribute economically for years, rather than months.

This is the second year the bill has been introduced; it is awaiting consideration by the Senate Finance Committee.