Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Texas and Competition Go Hand-in-Hand

By Governor Rick Perry
Friday, January 22, 2010  •  Austin, Texas  •  Editorial

I'm no fan of stereotypes, but there are a few characteristics associated with Texans that make me extremely proud, starting with a competitive spirit. Perhaps that's why so many gamers and game designers are gravitating to Texas.

Whether that's because competition is the heartbeat of most games or the fact that our culture encourages people to go head to head in sports, academics and business, Texans love a winner and appreciate someone who does their best.

All across the country, in places where smart, creative people gather to devise the next must-have game, they are joined by people who are willing to invest their capital and risk their future on whether or not their idea can be refined to best-in-category status.

Those who succeed dominate the market and make money, hiring more bright people who earn paychecks and feed their families. Those who come up short learn from their mistakes and head on to the next company to try again.

Maybe gamers get so used to re-spawning onscreen, that they aren't intimidated when the health meter on their real-life business project dwindles to zero and their company's line of credit flickers and disappears. They just reboot and try again, wiser and tougher.

I have spent my career in the public arena working to cultivate that competitive mindset across our state's economy. Fortunately, that time has been spent in Texas, where our citizens come out of the cradle looking to prove they're the best.

It probably started with early settlers like Davy Crockett, who were willing to risk their lives defending Texas in exchange for land. It continued with folks like Captain Lucas, who struck oil at Spindletop in 1901 after drilling what seemed like an endless string of dry holes.

And we've seen that competitive spirit in the Texas game industry, with people like the folks at Origin Systems, who basically turned a tabletop RPG into one of the first viable video games made in Texas. That same competitive spirit is going strong in those individuals, and in the heart of pretty much every Texan I know.

Competition is in our blood.

So we are only following our nature as we work to make our state more competitive in the global marketplace, because we realize that the old notions of local and even regional dominance are completely outdated. It's not enough to be the best in town anymore or even tops in the state. Instead, we need to be the best in the U.S., gunning for the best in the world.

In Texas, 2,800 of our jobs are occupied by game developers, one of the highest concentrations of these hardworking artistic types to be found in the country. They are employed by 94 game development and publishing companies who are turning out some great stuff.

Average developer salaries may not match up directly with those on the West Coast, but our reasonable cost of living and remarkable quality of life tip the balance into our favor pretty quickly. Add in the fact that our housing market makes it possible to own a home with a little elbow room that's closer than 90 minutes from the office.

As governor, I'm proud that Texas is top five game producing state, but I would like us to be number one. I think we can be. We're educating new developers in our schools, boasting the nation's third highest number of colleges and universities with computer and video game programs. Besides that rapidly expanding knowledge base, we also offer one of the better incentive packages in the country.

In a nutshell, a game company get back up to 5% of what they spend in-state, including pay for Texas residents working on Texas projects. When you consider how skilled those Texas residents are, our state gets more attractive all the time.

While our state-funded financial incentives have been winning us new converts, there are other factors that will keep Texas moving up in the world of games and entertainment. For example, our business tax structure that doesn't penalize employers for expansion and investment. Employees love the fact we have no state income tax.

We have also built and maintained a predictable regulatory climate that keeps our citizens safe without strangling the companies that provide jobs and create wealth with red tape. These elements may seem simplistic, but they are the result of a conscious effort we've made to transform Texas, efforts that have moved us to the forefront of our nation's economy.

I can't think of too many industries that can match the game industry's creativity or the rapid pace of its advance, but it has found a home in Texas. In the months and years to come, I hope that more game companies, developers and players will gravitate to Texas and display their own competitive nature. It'll make the industry better, our economy stronger, and keep us in the lead as we compete with other states.

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