In Oregon, the game has changed—and so have the games.
Over the past decade, the state's masters of warfare, zombie apocalypses, and more personal adventures have taken Oregon's video game industry up a level.
A report by the Entertainment Software Association in 2016 found that game development in Oregon contributes nearly $200 million to the economy and employs 2,000 workers—making it the eighth-biggest market in the country, according to Fortune.
And then, last year, business exploded like a landmine in Call of Duty.
In 2019, two major releases turned the thumbs of the world toward the Beaver State. Days Gone, a dystopian journey set right in our backyard and created by Bend Studio in Central Oregon, arrived for PlayStation 4 on a wave of hype. Sony spent $7.9 million to promote it on television, and it finished as one of the console's top-selling games of the year.
Then, in the fall, Portland tech company Panic published Untitled Goose Game, which allows players to control an obnoxious bird wreaking havoc on an idyllic English village. It became a viral sensation, and has sold over 1 million copies.
Sure, the triple-A game makers—your Electronic Arts, your Activisions—are all based elsewhere. But with Oregon proving it can produce both sprawling smash hits and smaller, more idiosyncratic titles, the industry is only going to get bigger.
In this issue, we spoke to the founders of Panic about unleashing the viral video game of the year, and where they're going next—which might be even weirder.
We toured Days Gone's post-apocalyptic vision of Oregon, and put together a primer on how the state has been depicted throughout the history of video games.
We also visited the headquarters of SuperGenius, a small Oregon City company with big-name clients—many of which it can't even talk about. And we talked to independent Portland game developer Nina Freeman, who's been called the "punk poet of gaming" for her uniquely emotional games about love, sex and relationships.
Maybe you don't consider yourself a gamer—or it could just be you haven't found the right game. Chances are, the one for you is being made somewhere in Oregon.
It's time to come out and play.