Drexel University’s Entrepreneurial Game Studio (EGS) is on its way to becoming a proving ground for enterprising young game developers. As part of a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the studio, which was founded about two years ago by Frank Lee, PhD, an associate professor in Westphal College, will take the next step toward becoming an educational business incubator for undergraduate students pursuing careers in game design.
“This grant will help EGS fulfill its mission of being a place where students can take risks as game developers and as entrepreneurs,” Lee said. “They will be able to learn from both their failures and successes, and it is my hope that upon graduation they have both the tools and experiences they need to join and lead the game design industry.”
Drexel is one of three recipients that will share a $750,000 Discovered in PA grant, which is intended to grow the high-tech sector of digital entertainment and video gaming. The award will establish a consortium between Drexel, Harrisburg University and Carnegie Mellon University that will bring together educational and industry professionals to fuel the interactive media industry in Pennsylvania.
In addition to the comprehensive campaign, each university will employ unique strategies including awarding of micro-grants to startups, employing a gamer-in-residence and startup mentoring, for growing the interactive media industry. Resources and ideas for success will be open and made available to the public by the consortium.
At the Entrepreneurial Game Studio, Lee’s lab for developing young game designers, the funds will support early stage student-run, mobile game start-up companies. This includes the use of professional design software, development workshops, business training, mentoring and a small incubator fund to help get the apps into the marketplace.
“The participants in the EGS program will go through a rigorous selection process to ensure that they all have the motivation to succeed,” Lee said. “Their goal is to produce a finished mobile app for the App Store in a nine-month period. We’ll give them the tools, training and support to get there –but they need to bring the vision and drive.”
Philadelphia’s game design industry has grown in recent years with many small, independent game companies setting up shop on N. 3rd Street, which has been branded as Philadelphia’s tech corridor. Part of the economic expansion in this area has been spurred by game design programs at local colleges and universities —like Drexel’s top-ranked program—producing graduates who are prepared to enter the industry. The advent of game-specific, collaborative work spaces has also helped to nurture the growth, according to Lee.
“The city is becoming a great place for game design companies to put down roots,” Lee said. “Drexel is producing some of the best students in game art, design and development and the city has some of the best independent game developers. In working with local universities like Penn, University of the Arts and Temple, as well as local independent game studios, at EGS we’re hoping to plant the seeds from which will spring the next success story like Rovio, and turn Philadelphia into a major game industry hub in the east coast.”