Lt. Gov. Murray Announces Massachusetts Digital Games Institute

Published on Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Media coverage:

Becker in the gameWorcester Telegram & Gazette
MassDiGI makes state support of games biz officialMass High Tech
State unveils video game instituteBoston Globe
Becker Launches Video Game InstituteWorcester Business Journal

Building on the Commonwealth’s strengths as a center for innovation and recognizing the economic development potential of the digital games industry, Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray joined President Robert E. Johnson, PhD of Becker College to announce the creation of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI). MassDiGI will serve as a statewide institute representing a strong partnership between the digital games industry, academia and the public sector to strategically foster job growth and economic development through this cutting edge industry.

“Massachusetts is not only one of the largest digital games clusters in the United States, representing a $2 billion industry and employing approximately 4,000 people across the state, but we are also home to strong academic institutions focused on digital game design and development,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray.  “This presents a real opportunity for MassDiGI to promote collaboration between academia and industry, nurture existing and new talent, and strengthen the industry’s growing presence in the Commonwealth.  We’re excited about the partnerships already underway and the future collaborations this new institute will foster.”

First announced in December 2010, Lieutenant Governor Murray proposed the creation of the institute and called for Becker College in Worcester, home to a top ten nationally-ranked digital game design and development program, to collaborate with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s John Adams Innovation Institute to support the establishment of MassDiGI. Lt. Governor Murray and President Johnson officially unveiled that plan today, joined by academic officials, digital game design students and industry representatives from across Massachusetts.

“Digital game technology represents a significant opportunity to advance our Commonwealth’s economic priorities," said Becker President Dr. Johnson. "Becker College looks forward to the collaboration between government, business and higher education that will take place at MassDiGI to fuel the growth of this evolving industry. I welcome the opportunity that Governor Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Murray have afforded Becker and the greater Worcester area. From students to CEOs, there is tremendous energy surrounding this endeavor.”

“This collaborative effort led by industry, academia and government will strengthen the competitiveness of the digital games industry in Massachusetts and bolster its potential for future growth," said Patrick Larkin, Director of the John Adams Innovation Institute. "I am excited by the enthusiastic commitment of industry leaders, as we work together to enhance innovation-led, economic development across the Commonwealth."

In the start-up phase of MassDiGI, Becker College will host the institute and will also be the lead provider of resources and services supporting the institute. The institute’s start-up phase will run from April to December 2011 with plans for the facility to open at Becker College in the fall of 2011. First year operations are expected to begin in January 2012. During the initial phase, MassDiGI plans to organize and seek to gain a broad base of support, including the creation of a 19-member Advisory Board comprised of business, education, and community leaders and chaired by the President of Becker College.

MassDiGI will also collaborate with organizations from across the Commonwealth to spur opportunities within the digital games industry.  In his remarks, Lt. Governor Murray also announced:

• MassDiGI and game industry veterans Monty Sharma, Robert Ferrari, and Kent Quirk, with support of a $15,000 grant from MTC’s John Adams Innovation Institute, will immediately launch a working group to investigate the development 1) an Integration Lab to create a shared environment where industry and academia can test and demonstrate next generation game technologies and 2) a “reverse” sabbatical concept that would bring senior game developers and industry professionals to the Institute to collaborate with students and faculty and explore new and innovative game technologies;

• The Governor’s STEM Advisory Council will provide a letter of support for future grant applications in which the mission of the institute aligns with the mission of the Council;

• Worcester Technical High School and Mashpee High School will cooperate with MassDiGI in areas of shared interest including conversations related to curriculum alignment and professional development; and

• Mashpee High School will offer meeting space for future Cape and Southeastern Massachusetts regional MassDiGI meetings.  Holyoke Community College’s Kittredge Center will offer meeting space for future Pioneer Valley and Western Massachusetts regional MassDiGI meetings. Moreover, the Kittredge Center looks forward to discussing additional ways it can work with MassDiGI to help foster the growth of the industry.

“I am excited about MassDiGI and really excited about the integration lab and reverse-sabbatical concepts,” says Monty Sharma, industry veteran and Vivox co-founder, “It’s great that the Becker and the Commonwealth are taking action in the games space. Given the incredible opportunity, it is critical for the State, higher education and industry to work together to grow jobs in this sector.”

In addition to today’s announcement to support the digital games industry and educational programs, Lt. Governor Murray announced the new Mass Stay Here Internships Site, a comprehensive statewide internship resource for students.  The new site, powered by Experience.com, a Massachusetts-based web company, allows all Massachusetts-based companies to post and promote their internships opportunities on the site for free, and provides all students a great one-stop-shop for searching state-wide internship opportunities. At today’s event, Lt. Governor Murray encouraged both the industry representatives and students present to use these resources, which can be found on www.massitsallhere.com/stayhere.

MassDiGI’s longer-term goals and objectives will evolve from input provided by stakeholders, the institute’s Advisory Board and the lessons learned during the first year of operation.  The institute’s services will be driven by its vision, mission, goals and objectives and will be designed to maximize long-term stakeholder benefits. Services currently planned will include: 1) Outreach and industry marketing; 2) Workforce development; 3) Business development; 4) Education and research; 5) Conference planning; and 6) Practices, policy and advocacy. Over time, in order to measure the impact of MassDiGI, key performance indicators will be established, measured and assessed annually.

The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council reports the cluster of existing digital games companies in Massachusetts represents as much as $2 billion in gross annual sales within the Commonwealth’s growing creative economy. More than 75 digital games companies attract and, according to the Entertainment Software Association, employ, directly and indirectly, more than 4,000 people in the Bay State – representing one of the larger digital games clusters in the United States. Additionally, nearly twenty leading Massachusetts higher education institutions offer degree programs or individual courses in digital games design and development.  Most recently, in March, more than 69,000 people attended PAX East, an international games industry conference and trade show in Boston – one of the largest events in the history of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

To learn more about MassDiGI and to read the complete plan, please visit: www.mass.gov/governor/massdigi or www.becker.edu/massdigi

Contributed by the Office of Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray

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