In the beginning, there was a promise to jump-start the development of an industry sector. 38 Studios was going to help Rhode Island become a player in the digital gaming space.
From hiring talent being developed at a number of existing programs at local colleges to encouraging that talent to start up more digital gaming ventures and other economic benefits, the expected return on the state’s $75 million loan guarantee was going to be significant. But we all know how that ended.
Still, the key to the 38 Studios multiplier concept was attracting and developing talent. So it is altogether appropriate to see, two years after the collapse of Curt Schilling’s dream, what has happened to the talent that he did attract to Providence.
The answer is that some of the game designers have stayed in the area, but most of them seem to have set course for regions of the country that have a more robust gaming ecosystem. From Boston to Silicon Valley, former 38 Studios employees have found work in their field, oftentimes for other ventures that have gone under as well. Without an anchor tenant, so to speak, the digital gaming environment is just not attractive enough to keep most of the game developers around.
On the other hand, the local higher educational institutions continue to teach students what they need to know to succeed in the business. So, clearly that side of the equation continues to fire on all cylinders. Perhaps there is hope for the region after all.
Unfortunately, for the moment at least, success in the field is happening elsewhere. •