Baton Rouge is transforming from a college town into a gaming hub – VentureBeat

Though well-known for its diehard sports fans, excellent cuisine, and epic tailgates, Louisiana’s capital Baton Rouge has leveraged its film production industry, research university, existing tech incubators, and low cost of living to become an emerging southeastern hub for the video gaming industry.

The city’s gaming industry was kickstarted when community leaders realized that the city’s foundation of digital media talent and incentive frameworks for the film production industry could also serve as assets for video game companies. Louisiana has long been a regional hub for film production, thanks to its diverse locations, competitive incentives, and low cost of living. Baton Rouge itself is home to Celtic Studios, the largest film facility in Louisiana, with nearly 150,000 square feet of design-built stage space and 100,000 square feet of gated office space. Films like Dallas Buyers Club, 22 Jump Street, and Pitch Perfect 2 were filmed on location in Baton Rouge. The state’s film industry created a strong foundation of digital media expertise and talent in the region.

To replicate its success in film production in another industry, Louisiana has helped foster a regional gaming cluster with the Digital Interactive Media and Software Development tax credit. The most comprehensive of its kind in the country, the initiative gives digital media and software development companies tax credits on labor payrolls and production expenditures. The Qualified Entertainment Company program also supports gaming companies with tax credits on payroll jobs.

Y Combinator cofounder Paul Graham has said, “there are no technology hubs without first-rate universities.” As home to Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge is no exception. LSU was a critical component in Electronic Arts’ decision to establish its North American testing center in Baton Rouge. The center is instrumental to the development of games from EA studios such as BioWare, DICE, and Maxis. The

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