Governor Uses Klaus as Backdrop for Signing of Video Gaming Legislation

Gov. Nathan Deal (right) talks with College of Computing Dean Zvi Galil (left) and Chris Klaus, CEO and founder of Kaneva, after the governor signs legislation extending state income tax breaks to video gaming developers.

April 14, 2014

Gov. Nathan Deal visited the College of Computing and the Klaus Advanced Computing Building this morning for an important business matter: to sign a piece of legislation focused on video game development.

The legislation, House Bill 958, in part, will extend state income tax credits to video game production companies based in Georgia for another two years. Deal said Georgia already stands as an industry leader with contributions of about $1 billion toward a $20 billion global industry. With the tax breaks, the governor said Georgia can lure even more video gaming production to the state and build upon its leadership in that arena in ways similar to what it has done in film and television production.

The setting for the signing was appropriate. Chris Klaus, the building’s namesake, is also CEO and founder of Kaneva, an industry leader in 3D worlds and gaming.

Klaus, who introduced the governor during the ceremony, said that tax incentives have already gone far in encouraging industry growth in the state.

"The partnership and support from Governor Deal and the State of Georgia for the gaming industry will encourage new video game startup work, as well as foster stronger collaboration with hotbeds for gaming research like Georgia Tech," he said. 

As part of his remarks, Deal recognized Georgia Tech as a leader in the video game industry. He also made specific mention that the College of Computing currently holds the highest placement rate for its computer science majors among all Georgia Tech majors and that they also boast of the highest starting salaries.

Professor Blair MacIntyre of the School of Interactive Computing said Georgia Tech stands as a major reason why many video game developers choose Atlanta and the region as a home base. Georgia Tech, along with the Savannah College of Art and Design and Southern Polytechnic, offer a strong and skilled work force with their highly qualified students.

In addition, Atlanta offers a high quality of life at a low cost and is geographically positioned to access high tech areas in Europe and the Western United States. The busiest passenger airport in the world in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport helps as well, McIntyre said.

But Georgia Tech focuses on the workforce side.

To that end, MacIntyre, along with Professor Ian Bogost, unveiled the new Georgia Tech Game Studio last fall with the goal of giving their students real-world experiences in developing, designing and programming games.  During the program, students work on smaller scale games that can be fully realized in about a year either for commercial release or for industry fairs.

“We focus on smaller things that the students can actually sink their teeth into and actually finish,” MacIntyre said.

Bogost added: “Georgia Tech students continue to be heavily recruited into the games industry, and many are eager to start their own independent studios right here in Atlanta. Georgia Tech is committed to supporting these students through degree programs like computational media, research programs in Digital Media and Computer Science, and in the new Georgia Tech Game Studio, which helps members of the Georgia Tech community develop and complete games for commercial release."

MacIntyre said he hopes the legislation succeeds in creating more jobs and attracting more companies to Atlanta and the region, mostly to give Georgia Tech students the option of employing their skills nearby.

“They would love to work right here in Atlanta,” he said. “We have many good companies hiring out students, but they can’t hire all of them.”