With its focus on the game development and sports entertainment industries, the Collin County suburb is in good position
Video games have long been a stigmatized sector of entertainment, once hailed as the mainstay of computer geeks. Over the last few decades, though, gaming has surged into mainstream society, thanks to the advent of smartphones and the Internet. Lately, the city of Frisco has become something of a video gaming industry hotspot. Technology and sports are at the heart of the city’s commerce, where economic development entities have targeted the video game industry as a point of entry to entice growing companies looking to relocate. (Frisco also is the home of FC Dallas soccer at Toyota Stadium and the soon-to-be-completed Dallas Cowboys training facility, The Star.)
“What we’re working toward is more of a holistic ecosystem, so it’s not just the development side and the creation of the games, but also how we leverage the passion and enthusiasm for the end user,” says Dave Quinn, vice president of the Frisco Economic Development Corp. “Frisco offers a strong quality of life that allows those people who are smart IT folks to raise their families. If you can attract the talent, then companies will follow.”
Christina Carlisle, director of programs at the Frisco-based North Texas Enterprise Center, a business accelerator, says Frisco’s focus on sports and video games makes sense. NTEC recently launched a partnership with the Guild of Software Architects to start a Code Boot Camp in which students focus on iOS and Android mobile development. Led by Kevin Harris, a former Navy SEAL and adjunct professor at SMU’s Guildhall digital game development program (he’s also the lead “wearables” architect for Fossil), NTEC’s Code Boot Camp will help students build portfolios that could help them secure junior-level developer positions.
“I think the demographic of Frisco is part of it,” Carlisle says. “I think also having such a big sports participation in the community—video gaming and esports play well with that. It’s just kind of a natural fit.”
In addition, Frisco has provided a permanent space for the once-homeless National Videogame History Museum, which opened in December at the Frisco Discovery Center. Founded by enthusiasts John Hardie, Sean Kelly, and Joe Santulli, the center includes more than 100,000 consoles, games, and memorabilia dating back to the early days of “Pong.” One of its biggest supporters has been Randy Pitchford, whose company Gearbox Software developed games like “Borderlands” and “Duke Nukem Forever.” Gearbox also moved its headquarters from Plano to the Frisco Square development last year, and Pitchford and his wife, Kristy, plan to open @nerdvana.coffee+shop and @nerdvana.food+spirits, a video game-influenced coffee shop and restaurant, in the same building later this year.