By Karen Y. Snyder (KYS Realm), MFA
Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States, yet it lacks either a vibrant technology industry or a media industry. Having moved here from Los Angeles, California five years ago, I was shocked at the lack of tech and media jobs, especially since the city is on a growth spurt. It is the most diverse in the nation; it is rapidly expanding, and it is centrally located within the U.S. After watching countless students within the Digital Media program at the University of Houston move from the area once graduated due to the lack of jobs, and after hearing the newly-elected mayor was seeking a deeper technology and media vision, I decided to help cultivate change.
My first goal was to organize an umbrella organization to house supporters and various individuals within the city whose voices had not been heard by government leadership. I developed a brand, Gamers of Houston, and then curated a group dedicated to encouraging video game development in the Houston, Texas region. Many individuals in the group were born and raised in Houston, and had a comprehensive overview of the needs of the city.
Next came the most intense job of the project in which I researched, wrote, and designed a 115 page Economic Impact Report for government officials. The report consisted of an industry overview; details on every game studio within the region; regional statistics; interviews from various key leaders; and a six-step action plan to achieve goals that could most impact the area.
A website was created so that I could house other information for officials to review, such as full biographys of local video game talent and leaders. The site includes 21 sections of additional resources and information and acts as a digital hub for the Houston video game industry.
Considering that government officials are very busy people, I filmed 23 interviews as well as events within the city to compile into various videos to showcase constituents insights. Video clips were shown within the live presentation meeting and utilized online via social media.
Having secured various points of view on the needs of the industry from the standpoint of developers within the region, I put together a plan and a scripted presentation so that volunteers would book time in front of the city council to speak their case. Over ten people took the time to join city council meetings and spoke up on behalf of the video game industry.
A presentation luncheon was created to present the economic impact plan and to personally woo government officials. Station Houston acted as the venue site with Six Foot kindly opening up their studio doors for a tour. City councilmen, Economic Development members of the City of Sugar Land and the City of Houston, and congressional representation attended.
“Great video, Karen. The work you've done to expand the scope of understanding for gaming in Houston is incredible!”
“Thank you for helping push the City of Houston to recognize the importance of bringing esports and gaming to Houston.”