Digital media — 3d graphics, digital design and video gaming — is one of the nation’s fastest growing industries, and one coveted by economic development experts across the state. How to grow that industry locally is a top priority of the state Department of Economic Development and the local non-profit 3D Squared, which is hosting this weekend’s Digital Workforce Conference at LITE. The two-day event kicks off today and features industry experts from New York, Portland, Ore., Athens, Ga., and Austin who will discuss industry trends and ways in which the state can further its digital media workforce development initiative. View a full schedule here.

The conference also culminates an eight-day Digital Workforce Intensive that took 40 middle and high school students through a 14-hour-a-day bootcamp to learn the ropes of the industry. Students were divided into teams and asked to develop an educational video game that highlighted and addressed a chronic problem area in the state. The teams were then given a chance to pitch their game to industry professionals and get feedback on their work. One of the teams will have their work showcased at the conference.

“The Digital Workforce Intensive is an opportunity for students to be exposed to industry standard tools and processes, and to have a real experience of what it’s like to develop a pitch for a game or virtual world” says Spencer Zuzolo, President of 3D Squared and founder of the GameCamp! career summer program. “These are foundational skills for the working in the 21st century digital workforce. We are working to build a workforce in Louisiana that can serve as the basis for building a robust game and digital media industry that can help transform Louisiana society and government.”

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