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Seattle Becomes an Electronic Game Center

The northwestern U.S. city of Seattle is a high-tech center and the home of Microsoft. It is also home to a growing electronic game industry, with dozens of companies in and around the city. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, a young generation of game players in Seattle is creating the next generation of video games.

For a generation raised playing games, the multi-billion dollar game industry holds a huge attraction.

Guy Shahine, a graduate student from Lebanon, wants to be part of it.

"Since we were kids, we liked to play games," he said. "Our only dream is to wait for this game or wait for this console, and wait for this new technology. So since I was at school, I was always looking forward to do something that would express my own ideas and my own dreams."

Shahine is working on his master's degree at the DigiPen Institute of Technology, a Seattle educational center where games are taken seriously.

Claude Comair, DigiPen's president and chairman, says the university-level institute teaches the art and science of computer simulation.

"In other words, we focus on the arts and sciences of ways to make games and movies or other topics that may need a simulation in them, including areas like aeronautics, automotive, and other industries as well," he said.

Games developers work at places like Sony Online Entertainment's Seattle studio. The company creates virtual worlds on the Internet where gamers of all ages form online teams.

Game producer Matt Wilson says players enjoy the interaction.

"It is grandmas, younger kids," said Wilson. "When you are online, you might be playing with a 16-year-old or a 17-year-old kid that is actually commanding you through battle. And sometimes that's OK."

A Seattle company called Pop Cap is developing less intense games that target casual gamers.

The development team is young and dynamic, and games are part of the culture, even at break time, says Pop Cap's Andrew Stein.

"It is to give people a break, if they are working hard, but at the same time, to kind of keep that creativity going," said Stein. "And to foster interaction. They enjoy spending time together, they play games together, they work together."

He says creating games is fun, but that games are a serious business.

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