Flemish gaming industry wants to level up: cooperation agreement signed in Atlanta
The West-Flemish Howest University of Applied Sciences has signed a cooperation agreement with Georgia State University in Atlanta (United States) on Monday. Both universities have prestigious gaming courses in house. The agreement highlights the growing importance of the sector in our country.
Howest signed the cooperation agreement with the Creative Media Industries Institute (CMII), the game study programme of Georgia State University. Atlanta is considered the Mecca of the American game industry. The aim of this collaboration is to exchange students, teachers and programmes, and to learn from each other, says Frederik D’hulster, director of education and internationalisation at the Kortrijk-based university college.
Howest is the crown jewel of the gaming sector in Flanders. Its Digital Arts and Entertainment programme has been voted the best games programme in the world three times already. Students from all over the world come to Kortrijk to follow courses in the game school. Every year, 600 to 700 students start the course. Only 70 percent eventually graduate. The graduates of the gaming school end up in game studios at home and abroad.
Howest is the crown jewel of the gaming sector in Flanders. Its Digital Arts and Entertainment programme has been voted the best games programme in the world three times already.
The game industry in our country - predominantly Flemish - has the wind in its sails, says David Verbruggen, general director of the sector federation FLEGA (Flemish Games Association). In 2020, the sector accounted for a turnover of 82 million euros. “But in time, a turnover of 200 to 250 million euros should be feasible”, estimates Verbruggen. Incidentally, this figure today is highly dependent on one company: Ghent-based game studio Larian. With Divinity Original Sin II, the company has a real blockbuster in house.
For the intended growth, FLEGA is counting on, among other things, a tax shelter: a fiscal stimulus for the sector which should come into effect in 2023, but also a game hub or incubator which is to be set up soon.
The cooperation agreement was signed in the presence of Belgian princess Astrid. She is in the US on an economic mission, with almost 300 companies and 500 participants in her wake – the second largest economic mission ever for Belgium. On the occasion, an avatar of the Princess was created in a CMII studio: a digital Princess, so to speak.
Belgian princess Astrid had an avatar created in her likeness during a visit to the Creative Media Industries Institute in Atlanta © BELGA PHOTO LAURIE DIEFFEMBACQ