A recent report listed Baltimore as the fourth-best city in the United States and Canada for gamers.
The survey conducted by Time2play used different tools to help determine a city’s cost of living, average internet speed, number of Gamestop stores per 100,000 residents, number of Best Buy stores per 100,000 residents, and the average price of a pepperoni pizza. Using these metrics, Baltimore ranked behind only Raleigh, North Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; and Cleveland.
The survey comes as Baltimore is seeing growth in its tech industry, and the city is continuing to develop as a hub for startups and established companies in the technology sector.
Jordan Sheets, the director of esports at Stevenson University for the past five years, thinks that Baltimore’s growing tech and gaming industries go hand in hand due to the similarities between them.
“I’d say over 50% of esports students that I have are also involved in IT and cybersecurity,” Sheets said.
Sheets even said that they recently got approval from Stevenson to give out esports scholarships. Stevenson, a Division III school, is not allowed to give out athletic scholarships, but because esports are not regulated by the NCAA, they are able to give out scholarships for the growing activity.
Other tech hubs around the country — such as Seattle, No. 44, and San Francisco, No. 46 — are toward the bottom of the list due to their high cost of living, which the survey classified as bad for gamers.
“Despite excellent internet speeds in the tech hubs of Seattle and San Francisco, we think gamers are better off in cities with a less expensive cost of living,” the survey read.
Baltimore’s cost of living, which the survey gathered from Numbeo’s cost of living index, is 73.65, while San Francisco’s is 95.43 and Seattle’s is 87.95. Each city’s cost of living is how expensive it is to live there, relative to New York City, which has a cost of living value at 100.
Sheets said the lower cost of living but wealth of high-paying tech jobs in Baltimore is part of why the city ranks high on the list. The city is starting to embrace gaming, he said, as is Stevenson.
“There’s a growing number of gaming arenas in the Baltimore area,” Sheets said.
Gaming arenas in the area include Xanadu Games, Wonderfly Arena and even North Ave. Market, which features arcade machines.
There are also a number of youth leagues in Baltimore, and even the Ravens have partnered with the Esports Entertainment Group to host tournaments for Fortnite, Madden and NBA 2K games.
As the tech industry continues to grow, Sheets expects the gaming industry to be right there as well.
“It’s a space that’s continuing to grow and gain lots of administrative support,” Sheets said. “Esports is growing, and it’s really exciting to see.”