Help Wanted: Gaming Puts On Major Expansion in U.S. Economy

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

Help Wanted: Gaming Puts On Major Expansion in U.S. Economy

Admittedly, the last several years of the economy in the United States has not been great. But there are notes that suggest things are on the mend, economically speaking, as unemployment rates drop and more businesses look to do some hiring. But even through the rougher times, there was one bright spot in the economy over the last few years, and that bright spot was video gaming.

Word from the Entertainment Software Association—the game industry's lobbying group—showed that business grew over nine percent annually from 2009 to 2012, which is no small feat given what was going on in the wider picture economically during that same time. In fact, it was better than four times what the entire United States economy could muster up, suffering an anemic average two percent growth during those years. The gaming industry actually managed to contribute better than $6.2 billion to the United States economy just in 2012. This growth rate was also reflected in gaming hires as well, averaging nine percent growth in jobs while the wider economy couldn't even muster up a full percent of job growth.

Individual states, meanwhile, are seeing the clear value the gaming industry represents and are looking to draw companies accordingly, offering tax incentives and the like to pull jobs away from California, where the most such workers are employed. Texas and Washington State are two of the biggest such hiring forces in the field, and 19 other states, along with Puerto Rico, are all in the hunt.

It was something of a truism even during the Great Depression that the entertainment industry still did pretty well. Naturally, all businesses suffer, at least somewhat, during an economic downturn—fewer customers feel good about spending and hold back accordingly—but by like token, an economic downturn often creates a whole new demand, specifically, the demand for something that will make you feel better about the horrorshow the economy has temporarily become.

When you've been looking for a job for any length of time, it's easy to feel...inadequate. After being told no several dozen times or hearing nothing at all, it's easy to think that, maybe, you're perfectly educated for the Bronze Age. Your skills are useless. You're unpleasant to look at or be around. It's like a night club with great lighting and absolutely no one's drunk. Perhaps worst of all, if something doesn't turn around AND SOON there is a very real chance you will lose your home and possibly starve to death. But you can only do so much, so you spend a lot of time feeling bad about yourself and you desperately need a pick-me-up only slightly less than you need a job. Enter movies, TV shows, and video games; the means to give you a laugh or even a whole new vicarious lifestyle full of love, laughs, and gold that's as easy to find as whacking a half-man / half-pig over the head with a big stick. It may not solve the big problems, but at least it makes you feel better, and not living in a frothing pit of misery for a while is worth $59.99 to a lot of people.

So it's not a surprise to see the gaming industry did well even in dark times. It's not even much of a surprise to see just how far it outpaced the economy. With the economy seemingly on its way back, it may well be that it may keep going. It will be interesting to see just how far it can go, especially with a new generation of consoles about to celebrate its first metaphorical birthday.

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