The East Coast Game Conference 2014 proved yet again to the Triangle that video games are a huge business for North Carolina. The industry at large has been evaluated at a range of $75-100 billion dollars or more, and growing annually. I, for one, had no idea of the developer presence we have right here in our back yard until I attended ECGC this year.

The gaming industry has been in a bit of an upheaval with Zynga’s long-documented poor performance after its initial exponential growth and the bankruptcy and shutdown of high-profile studios such as 38 Studios. Outside of the usual giant publishers like EA, Blizzard and Ubisoft, it’s tough to know where studios stand.

But with the latest console cycle now well underway, and digital distribution via platforms like Steam more popular than ever, it seems that there has never been a better time to be an indie game developer. There is, however, a big question to be raised: Can you make money in video games as a little guy in the playing field?

If local hiring is any indication, then surely you can. There are 60+ local jobs available in the industry right now and in a variety of positions. Local development studios came out en masse to ECGC to spread the word on their home turf and attract new talent to their projects. So if you are looking to get into the games industry, your timing could not be better. Seriously. Go apply now.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the studios that were in attendance and hiring:

Imangi Studios is best known for its universal smash hit, Temple Run, and its sequel Temple Run 2. It is a Raleigh-based game development studio that focuses on quality and cohesive gaming experiences. It also happens to be aggressively hiring for a wide range of positions. Check out the job board here.

Epic Games is a powerhouse international gaming studio, with its headquarters in Cary. Epic is well known for creating franchises such as Unreal Tournament, Gears of War and Infinity Blade. It also licenses out the Unreal game engine and development tools, which up until the launch of the latest iteration, Unreal 4, was a bit cost-prohibitive to obtain. The latest version launched in early April and is absolutely gorgeous. And the new pricing model incorporates a simple monthly fee of $19, allowing virtually anyone to affordably develop with Unreal. Check out its job board here.

Insomniac Games is a studio with an office in Durham and has always been near and dear to my heart. Its games always have a particular flair and creative direction that’s humorous and engaging while providing a unique experience. Insomniac was showing off the new Xbox One exclusive, Sunset Overdrive, which looks to be a fantastic new franchise. Apply for openings (which are mostly in California) here.

Funcom is a Norwegian-based developer with a sizable presence and office in the Triangle. It has been in business since the early 90s, and is best known for adventure game, The Longest Journey, and more recently, the hybrid Massively Multiplayer Online Game, The Secret World. It will also launch a LEGO-themed MMO this summer that looked gorgeous and will be free to play. Check out openings here.

Simbryo Corporation is a Charlotte, NC based game developer that made the trek up to Raleigh for ECGC this year. Its crowning achievement is a mind-boggling 100+ games developed for various platforms over the course of just five months. Simbryo calls it “Project Centurion.” The staff was extremely engaging and passionate about game development. Shoot them a message to learn more about career opportunities here.

These opportunities are just a sampling of the local jobs available. If this many companies are hiring in an area that up until recently was not a traditional hotbed of video game development, imagine the opportunity. Matt Thorson, the creator of indie smash hit Towerfall Ascension, recently announced that the title has grossed over $500,000 through sales on the Ouya, PS4, and PC.

“It’s doing definitely well enough for me to support myself for quite awhile,” said Thorson. It’s clear that now, more than ever before, an aspiring entrepreneur can make it in the video games industry.

ECGC was a fantastic video game-centered conference experience, as these things go. It was great to see so many local developers and talent representing the old North State. The time to get involved with the industry is now as opportunities are beyond abundant at local studios. The Triangle has such a huge confluence of talent, even in our own backyard. I highly suggest you attend ECGC, and expect to see you there next year!