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With the holiday shopping season now in full swing, information released last month got me thinking about the impact of one popular gift item, especially for the younger ones on our shopping lists. A report released by the Entertainment Software Association showed the computer and video game industry in Illinois adds more than $158 million to the state economy. So while some among us seem to spend countless hours in front of a screen, at least it seems to be a way of contributing to the economy.

The industry seems to be growing nationwide, with job growth for the video game industry more than 13 times that of the overall U.S. labor market. The industry added $6.2 billion to the U.S. economy in 2012, and directly and indirectly employs more than 146,000 people. The findings were part of a study conducted by Economists Incorporated, providing an in-depth analysis of the entertainment software industry's economic impact at the national and state level.

Illinois is the seventh largest employer of video game industry personnel in the nation. According to the report, the industry exceeded employing 4,000 direct and indirect employees in 2012. Average compensation for a direct video game industry employee in 2012 was $92,453. The number of video game facilities in Illinois increased to 29 locations, in comparison to 28 in 2009.

While California, Texas and Washington are traditionally thought of as the hubs for the industry, the report shows development taking place elsewhere, said Michael Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association. The trade group represents U.S. computer and video game publishers. Gallagher said the association wants to work with policymakers in Illinois to explore ways to accelerate the industry's growth. He said the industry provides a desirable value with highly-skilled, highly compensated jobs.

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​clusvardi@herald-review.com|(217) 421-7972

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