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Video Games Expo Highlights Gaming’s Rising Influence In Ga.

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Kieran "Funballer" Patidar from the United Kingdom and his team competed at the SMITE Spring Finals Championship at the Hi-Rez E-sports studio in Alpharetta. His team came in last, but walked away with $10,000. Hi-Rez is one of the sponsors of SIEGE.
Credit TASNIM SHAMMA / WABE

More than 1,500 developers, designers and gamers are gathering in Atlanta this weekend for the largest gaming industry conference in the South. 

The Southern Interactive Entertainment & Games Expo is one sign of how the region is becoming the Southern capital for video gaming professionals.

A decade ago, there were only a handful of game companies in Georgia. Now, there are more than 80.

“I can go to Macon, Georgia, I can go to Columbus and we find all these very smart, very creative people wanting to make games,” Andrew Greenberg, executive director of the expo and the Georgia Game Developer’s Association, said. “It has become the gateway to technology for many students all over the world and especially within Georgia.” 

In addition to talent, another reason for the video game industry’s growth is because it enjoys the same tax credit that film and TV companies in Georgia get.

“We have some very large companies who’ve had a chance to grow larger thanks to the tax credits that are in place and, as these larger companies grow, other companies can see what they’re doing, learn from them and in some cases, spin off from them,” Greenberg said.

The conference includes a college fair, investment conference and an indie game cluster.

“From Microsoft HoloLens to Ocolus Rift to other developers, the tools are becoming less expensive and easier to use and providing a greater range of functionality,” Greenberg said.

The conference will feature talks on virtual reality technology, indie games and the CDC’s efforts to promote health education through video games.