Great games require a healthy ecosystem that spans not only researchers, designers and players but also universities, companies, and markets. Within this ecosystem, the health of various nodes in the network are coupled, with the strength of stakeholders in one area contingent on the success of stakeholders in others. At the state by state level, entities such as higher education programs are bound up with local game studios, with a 0.90 correlation between the two (HEVGA, 2015). Although we often cross institutional silos on the individual day-to-day level, with many of us spending half our day on campus and the other half at local studios or cooperative workspaces, it is often only rarely that we organize as groups and organizations to catalyze and improve the ecosystem overall.
In this plenary panel session, we discuss the local game ecosystem in Madison as way to highlight grassroot efforts to organize and catalyze a healthy ecosystem across business, philanthropy, university, and markets. In this session, local leaders discuss their work through the Madison Games Alliance over the last year to create a local network of game studios, independent developers, faculty, investors, and regional economic economic development agencies with the shared mission of promoting one region (here, the Madison area) as a premier site for game development and design. Local leaders discuss their goals for the local games scene, the barriers and frictions to working across silos, and their working solutions to creating a viable collaborative across nodes. Topics include strategies fro business creation and growth, attracting quality talent, and preparing students for 21st century creative tech industry.