The gaming industry is an important contributor to the world’s economy. That’s a sentiment that would have seemed absurd to most people a few decades ago, but those who have lived and breathed gaming have always understood it to be a vital artform. It’s taken a little while, but the world is starting to recognize that.
As a result, major cities across the globe have embraced the gaming community, from hosting events to creating job opportunities. There’s certainly a financial incentive for this — it’d be naive think that city leaders aren’t rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of hundreds to thousands of gamers with disposable income visiting them. Nonetheless, there are still passionate geeks at the heart of these changes, ensuring positive infrastructure and facility additions are put in place.
Whether it’s as simple as free Wi-Fi access in city centers or deep-rooted as providing tax incentives to encourage a strong game development business presence, there are fantastic opportunities for gamers to travel. Pack your bags, keep abreast of the currency fluctuations, and save room in your luggage for the inevitable gear purchases. You might find some adventure along the way.
Gaming Destinations Within the US
Perhaps second only to Asian countries, the U.S. has long embraced gaming as both commerce and entertainment. Gamers who began playing as children have worked to make it possible for their fellow geeks to enjoy a rich variety of gamer-friendly cities. There are those which host huge events, such as Seattle’s Retro Gaming Expo and GeekGirlCon, and more low-key destinations, like Sacramento’s Computer Gaming Museum.
If you’re in the market for esports, the U.S. has you covered. The Overwatch League — hosting teams from across the globe — holds their regular matches and stage playoffs in Los Angeles, with the finals most recently hosted in Philadelphia. Whether you want to take part as a seasoned player or just show up as a spectator, this kind of high-stakes gaming has become an unmissable part of the gaming landscape.
Top of the list of U.S. cities for gamers is Orlando, FL. In a recent analysis, the city had racked up 17 major esports events in a single year, alongside multiple geek culture conventions — more than any of the other cities subject to gaming scrutiny. It’s clear that in the U.S. gaming is being taken seriously, and opportunities for geek culture tourism are set to grow.
Asia: A Continent Embracing Geek Culture
You can’t really overstate the access to geek culture in Asia. While there are countries across the planet who have dipped a toe into geeky waters, Asia is gaming’s equivalent of Atlantis. Gaming thrives here to a breathtaking degree.
If you’re seeking to be overwhelmed in the best possible sense, the Japanese city of Tokyo is an ideal place to start. Gaming has been embedded into the culture here — particularly in the visually “Blade Runner”-esque Akihabara Denki Gai. You’ll find a dizzying array of gadget emporiums (usually boasting low prices), cosplay and otaku-themed eateries, and the famed retro gaming store, Super Potato.
Seoul, South Korea should also be on every gamer’s travel hit list. We could discuss the incredible culture until we ran out of breath, but we really can’t ignore that this is the true spiritual home of every MMO player — a reputation bolstered by its possession of the fastest internet speeds on Earth. They take their esports very seriously, too; events are hosted at national sports stadiums, and practices are regulated via a body linked to the South Korean Olympic Committee.
Find a Games Development Career in Europe
It seems strange that most of us don’t tend to associate Europe with gaming culture. This may have something to do with U.S. and Asian destinations tending to offer larger, louder stadium gaming events. Much like everything else Europe does, while they may take a more laid back approach, there is no less of a passion for the art form of gaming.
In fact, Western Europe is one of the choice relocation destinations for many reasons, including the ability to turn your passion into a career. Berlin, Stockholm, and Paris have all committed to creating infrastructure that is attractive to game development studios. While it’s always important to make an effort to learn the local language when moving abroad, it’s also worth noting that many of these studios are primarily English speaking and encourage diversity in their workforce.
There are opportunities for those passionate about mobile gaming or interested in joining small indie startups. It can be tempting to stray toward the obvious hubs such as the UK, but don’t discount places such as the Netherlands. The country’s thriving development industry has grown to include almost 50 studios. Do your research, get your travel documents in order, and see what you can offer the European gaming industry.
There’s a horrible, toxic image that the world seems keen to cling to: that gamers are “indoor” people, devoid of varied cultural passions. This cliche is starting to subside as more gamers are heading out into the world to spread positivity and create viable industries. This era of gaming has the potential to be an exciting one.
It’s important to note, though, that these opportunities don’t just make themselves. Gamers have to be at the forefront of their cultural shift — the best cheerleaders for their art. It’s in geeks’ best interest to keep traveling the world, spreading a positive influence, finding new cities to add to the map of those friendly to their interests.
This is just a smattering of what the world has to offer you. Get a passport and stray outside of your comfort zone. There has literally never been a better time for you to travel as a gamer. Make the most of it.