5 Cities Gamers Will Love to Play (and Live) In
Twenty years ago, the idea of moving somewhere to pursue your love of video games just wouldn’t make sense – mostly because there wasn’t anywhere to move to. But as gaming has become a massive multi-billion dollar industry, many cities have become hubs of gaming and game development.
Here are just a few of the towns where gamers will find themselves right at home, both in their careers and their pastime.
1. San Francisco, California
Video game development lives and thrives in and around San Francisco. The city proper is home to 280 video game developers, not to mention studios like EA, which is headquartered in nearby Redwood City, CA. Beyond developers, the press that cover them also call San Francisco home, as outlets like IGN, GameSpot, and Polygon all have offices in the city.
San Francisco isn’t just a hub for video game development: it’s also been the setting of dozens of popular video games over the years — from Grand Theft Auto to Tony Hawk games — so many gamers may feel like they know the city already. And for those who like their old school games, the city also boasts dozens of arcades where you waste your quarters like it’s 1989.
2. Austin, Texas
Anyone who knows Austin won’t be surprised to learn it’s a hotspot for video game development. While most larger game studios are headquartered in California, many of them have satellite offices in Austin, including Activision Blizzard, EA, Microsoft, and ZeniMax.
But what Austin is really known for is its strong indie game community. Juegos Rancheros, an Austin-based indie game community that’s been around since 2011 hosts meetups and provides support for the city’s vibrant community of independent video game developers.
3. Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta might not be a major destination for gamers, but it’s perhaps the best-hidden Easter egg on this list. The city doesn’t have a ton of game studios, but its tech and startup scene is thriving – a perfect safe haven from the stresses and burnout caused by developing games.
And for gamers who don’t want to leave their battle-stations, Atlanta topped Movoto’s list of Top 10 Cities for Gamers and came in 5th on WalletHub’s rankings, owing to its fast, reliable internet speeds and game stores per capita.
4. Los Angeles, California
Its size, proximity to Silicon Valley, and strong history in computing science all practically guarantee that Los Angeles spawned a great number of video game studios. Two of the most notable SoCal studios, Riot Games and Blizzard Entertainment, produce two of the most popular games in the world in League of Legends and World of Warcraft, respectively. Blizzard also produces Overwatch, Diablo, and StarCraft and their Anaheim campus is the stuff of legends among video game nerds.
In the world of esports, LA is a haven for competitive gamers across the country. Both Riot and Blizzard have dedicated live TV studios where esports fans can cheer on their teams, and both have hosted major international tournaments in the area, turning out tens of thousands of viewers.
5. Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City may not host as many game developers as it once did — large studios like Disney Interactive and EA Salt Lake recently pulled out of the area — but a large gaming community remains and thrives. The city is home to the second largest comic con in the country (so large, in fact, it was recently sued by the San Diego Comic Con for copyright infringement) and its annual gaming con grows larger every year.
Salt Lake is also home to the University of Utah’s Entertainment Arts and Engineering program, which regularly ranks in the top 3 programs nationwide for game development.