Philadelphia Game Lab

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Philadelphia Game Lab (PGL) is a non-profit organization (501c3), with the mission of facilitating growth and visibility of small-team development in the Philadelphia region.[1] Currently, PGL is executing a number of funded game development and game technology projects, including sonic, a low level toolset for creation of audio-only games, and lux, a platform for creation of collaborative games. Both are being developed under a permissive MIT License.


PGL operates from the 5th floor of 30 South 15th Street (the Graham Building). It was formerly located at the Benjamin's Desk building at 1701 Walnut Street.[2]


PGL's core initiative, funded development of games and game technologies by current students and recent graduates of Pennsylvania universities, is backed by a D2PA Grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.[3]


Nathan Solomon founded PGL in late 2011,.[4] Philadelphia Game Lab compares itself to diverse initiatives, including Boston's MassDiGI, Toronto's Hand Eye Society, New York University's Game Center, and creative facilitators/organizations such as The Wild Rumpus, Babycastles and Juegosrancheros.[citation needed] Solomon said of the Philadelphia business environment: "We should emphasize bootstrapped entities, and reject the model of massive scalability (required by the conventional tech VC model), as the primary requirement of a tech startup. I'm not saying that if someone is offered funding and takes it, that's a bad thing (it's definitely a very good thing); however, this city should brand itself as so good for bootstrapping that it has unique value that cannot be found in NYC or San Francisco or even Boston."[5] Regarding locating in Philadelphia, Solomon said, "From a hard numbers perspective, Philadelphia probably has the lowest per-capita number of professional game developers for a city its size in North America. At the same time, though, Philadelphia is a great place for creative and technical initiatives, and I think there's a valid argument that we're uniquely strong in grassroots initiatives here, especially those for social or creative good."[6]

Grassroots Game Conference[edit]

First held in from April 23 to April 28 in 2012 in coordination with Philly Tech Week, the Grassroots Game Conference is an annual event which targets game developers, as well as those involved in arts, non-profits, and education. The conference is dedicated to facilitating "small team" game development, with tracks in Games and Art, Games and Music, and Games and Gamification for Non-profits.[7][8][9][10] The conference differs from-user-focused events such the Penny Arcade Expo and ComicCon, events focused on professional developers such as the Game Developers Conference and retail event Electronic Entertainment Expo. Similar events include Indiecade and the Games for Change Festival.[11]

Nationally recognized game developers and educators spoke at the 2012 event, including representatives from the Smithsonian, the National Endowment for the Arts, and GlitchLabs. Gabe Zichermann, a gamification expert, gave the keynote speech.[11][12]

The 2013 Grassroots Game Conference was significantly larger than 2012, including more events and additional interest tracks, as well as international presenters.[13]


  1. ^ "Nurturing a nascent video game industry in Philadelphia — NewsWorks". December 22, 2011. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  2. ^ Ufberg, Max (March 10, 2014). "Should Pennsylvania lure video game developers with tax credits?". Tech Philly. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  3. ^ Betagole, Cary (November 5, 2013). "it's game on at philadelphia's second annual grassroots gaming conference". Flying Kite Media. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  4. ^ Beeler, Carolyn. "Nurturing a nascent video game industry in Philadelphia". WHYY. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  5. ^ Nathan Solomon (June 19, 2012). "Considering Philadelphia as a Tech Bootstrapping Community Rather Than a Tech Startup Community". Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  6. ^ "Inaugural Grassroots Game Conference targets Philly's low score for game developers". April 17, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  7. ^ Shue, Jordan. "Exploring Gamification at the First Annual Philadelphia Grassroots Game Conference". Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  8. ^ Borofsky, Yael. "Grassroots Game Conference: companies to spend more than $2.5 billion on gamification, says Gabe Zichermann". Technically Philly. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  9. ^ "Gamification is best for 'influencing and impacting behaviors:' Wharton panel event — Technically Philly". Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  10. ^ "Blog : The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage". April 16, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  11. ^ a b "Game Conference Launches in Philadelphia with Focus on Grassroots Game Development | Corzo Center at the University of the Arts". Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  12. ^ "Grassroots Game Conference: gamification conference in conjunction with Philly Tech Week — Technically Philly". April 17, 2012. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  13. ^ Reyes, Juliana (October 11, 2013). "Grassroots Game Conference: 30+ events in 2nd annual game festival". Tech Philly. Retrieved May 10, 2014.

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