Isle video game sector surges
Game development accounts for 129 jobs
STORY SUMMARY »
The isle video game industry, which has weathered several closures in the past five years, is now growing at a faster pace than the national average, a study released yesterday says.
Hawaii's entertainment software industry grew 19.7 percent in 2006, topping national growth of 17.9 percent, according to a study by the Entertainment Software Association, a gaming consultant based in Washington, D.C.
However, at $84,818 a year, isle employees were paid less than the national average of $92,368 in 2006. The state has 129 game developers employed by four companies.
The video game industry should continue to see an uptick in growth continuing into next year because of the recent release of new gaming consoles, the study's author, Stephen Siwek, said.
FULL STORY »
Hawaii's video game industry is growing at a faster pace than the nation overall, but its employees here are paid less than the national average, according to a study released yesterday.
Hawaii's entertainment software industry grew 19.7 percent in 2006, topping the industry's national growth of 17.9 percent, according to a study by the Entertainment Software Association, a gaming consultant based in Washington, D.C.
Hawaii video game industry
Developer locations: 4
Average annual wage: $84,818
Contribution to state economy in 2006: $21.3 million
Industry growth from 2005: 19.7 percent
Source: Entertainment Software Association
"Overall the real growth rate is rather significant," the study's author, Stephen Siwek, said in an interview. "I'm a bit surprised at this. In 2006 we saw the beginning of what appears to be a new upward cycle."
The industry contributed $21.3 million to the state's economy in 2006 when adjusted for inflation, up from $17.8 million in 2005. Hawaii's economy last year grew an inflation-adjusted 4.34 percent to $49 billion from 2005, the study said.
"The industry in Hawaii is relatively small," Siwek said. "The largest state for this industry is California. It far and away has the most employees with 40 percent of the employees in the industry."
California's gaming industry directly employs 9,245 workers in 191 locations, contributing $1.7 billion to the state's economy.
Video game development and publishing directly employs more than 24,000 people nationwide, with an average salary of $92,368 in 2006.
Hawaii's average salary was $84,818, with 129 workers employed by four gaming companies -- Maui Games in Kihei; Jamdat Mobile Hawaii, owned by Redwood City, Calif.-based gaming giant Electronic Arts; and Honolulu-based Avatar Reality Inc. and Blue Planet Software Inc., both founded by former Square USA game developer Henk Rogers.
Thirty-one states employ video game industry workers, according to the study. It did not give comparative state rankings on employment or pay.
Hawaii's game industry has seen several companies come and go in the past decade. In 2002, Square USA studios closed its Honolulu office after it collapsed under losses of more than $100 million after producing the computer-animated film "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within," displacing 240 employees. In 2006, Tokyo-based Konami Corp. closed its studio in Waikiki, affecting 40 workers.
On the success of Blue Planet Software, founded in 1996 to license the Tetris computer game, Rogers created Avatar Reality here in mid-2006 to develop Blue Mars, an online multiplayer game due out next year. Separately, Maui Games was formed in April 2002 to develop Internet, game console and mobile games.