Pennsylvania Considers New Tax Credit to Attract Game Production

The Pittsburgh Technology Council is endorsing a proposal from Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi to create a new Digital Entertainment Tax Credit as part of an expanded film tax credit.  Just as the film tax credit has proven its ability to attract film production to our state, this new credit would create a powerful incentive aimed attracting investment in permanent gaming development centers in Pennsylvania.

The opportunity associated with the nation’s entertainment technology industry is both large, and rapidly growing, with many states developing targeted strategies to attract the lucrative jobs that accompany the industry’s expansion.  Though more than 40 percent of the employment in this sector is focused on the West Coast, many states such as New York, Texas and Massachusetts have secured major gaming design centers that are contributing hundreds of millions of dollars towards their GDP. Louisiana, Pennsylvania and North Carolina are among a list of carefully watched states that possess the key ingredients for future success.

Pittsburgh, for example is home to Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center, which is an internationally recognized leader in the development of both talent and technology.

Pennsylvania’s existing strengths in this industry, combined with this new tool, will enable us to capture major investments and grow community-building jobs.

Please support Senate Bill 1035. Use this link to contact your legislators:

Consumer Robot for Autism Therapy Wins Top Prize In Nation’s First RoboBowl Competition

A Pittsburgh startup, Interbots, won a first prize of $25,000 for its plan to develop consumer robots that could help boost the social skills of autistic children in the inaugural RoboBowl venture competition.

Interbots was one of five companies to present proposals for next-generation robotics products or services in the health care and quality of life industries during the finals of the RoboBowl Pittsburgh competition at Carnegie Mellon University on Oct. 13.

The event was sponsored by The Robotics Technology Consortium, Carnegie Mellon University and the Innovation Accelerator. It was the first in a series of national “next-generation robotics” venture competitions intended to find and foster startup and early-stage companies seeking to develop products and services that address unmet and underserved market needs in targeted industrial sectors.

Interbots, founded in 2005, is a spin-off of Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center. The company  specializes in the design and construction of custom interactive characters – both physical and virtual – as well as control software, and interactive multimedia content. Its RoboBowl proposal focused on an affordable consumer robot and accompanying iPad/PC software that would allow therapists and parents to guide autistic children through activities that practice social referencing skills.

Another Pittsburgh company, TactSense Technologies, took second place and a $10,000 prize. A spin-off of the University of Pittsburgh, TactSense presented a novel tactile feedback system for robotic surgical systems. The other finalists, Bright Cloud International Corp. of Highland Park, N.J., Origami Robotics of Pittsburgh, and RescueBotics of Mountain View, Calif., each received $5,000 prizes.

Summaries of the finalists’ proposals are available at

“We were pleased to be part of the National Robotics Initiative’s inaugural RoboBowl business plan competition that took place with the ‘Innovation Accelerator @ Carnegie Mellon’ event,” said John Pyrovolakis, founder and CEO of Innovation Accelerator. “These competitions will create new business ideas for commercial robotics applications, with other ones to follow in the areas of manufacturing robotics, infrastructure and environmental robotics, and education robotics.”

The judges for the final round competition were Pyrovolakis; Helen Greiner, president and CEO CyPhyWorks, president and CEO, Robotics Technology Consortium, iRobot co-founder; Nathan Harding, co-founder and CTO, Berkeley Bionics; Venetia Kontogouris, senior managing director, Trident Venture Capital; Rich Lunak, president and CEO, Innovation Works; Steven S. Martin, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska; and Frank DiMeo, vice president, Technical Staff, Physical & Biological Technologies Practice, In-Q-Tel.

Will Wright, Creator of Spore™ and The Sims™ To Receive Carnegie Mellon’s Randy Pausch Prize

Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) will present its Randy Pausch Prize to Will Wright, the gaming industry legend who created The Sims™, Spore™ and other breakthrough video games, in recognition of his success in mixing artistry with technology.

Wright will receive the Pausch Prize, named for the late co-founder of the ETC and famed author of “The Last Lecture,” at the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Design, Art & Technology Awards (DATA) event April 28. He also will participate in the ETC’s first Building Virtual Worlds Spring Festival, April 29, at the ETC-Pittsburgh headquarters.

“The Pausch Prize celebrates those industry professionals who have bridged the gap between right brain and left brain thinking; Will Wright personifies that ideal,” said Don Marinelli, executive producer and co-founder of the ETC. “His work manifests not only technical expertise and artist creativity, but he is legendary for games and interactive experiences that are educational and entertaining at the same time. Randy always pointed to Will Wright as the perfect role model for ETC students. It is a tremendous privilege for us to honor Will Wright with the Randy Pausch Prize.”

Wright’s work shares another tie with Pausch: the educational software package known as Alice. Pausch spearheaded the development of Alice, which teaches the principles of computer programming by enabling even novices to create 3-D computer animations. The latest version, Alice3, incorporates animated characters and scenes from The Sims2 that were donated by Electronic Arts. Carnegie Mellon makes Alice available as a free download at

The ETC initiated the Pausch Prize following Pausch’s death from pancreatic cancer in 2008. The first recipient was Ed Catmull, president of Wall Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.

Wright’s visit to Pittsburgh and the ETC coincides with the first Building Virtual Worlds Festival. The Building Virtual Worlds (BVW) interdisciplinary project class, offered each fall semester, was created by Pausch and remains the ETC’s signature course. This semester, a spring section of the class was offered for the first time and includes students from a new joint master’s program with the University of Madeira.

Just as the fall class is capped by the BVW Show, which routinely attracts standing-room-only crowds from both campus and the entertainment industry, the spring BVW class will reach its climax with the first BVW Festival. Teams of class members will be assigned rooms where they will create unique interactive experiences. Wright, entertainment industry members and other invited guests will tour the rooms and provide valuable feedback for the students.

Follow the School of Computer Science on Twitter @SCSatCMU.

“The Comet & The Tornado” Hits Book Stores Today

Carnegie Mellon University’s Don Marinelli recounts the cofounding of the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) with the late Professor Randy Pausch in his just-released book, “The Comet & The Tornado.”

Marinelli traces the ETC’s cofounding with Pausch –who would become an international media star and best-selling author with his “Last Lecture” — and offers personal insight into their yin-yang relationship.

The book is receiving stellar reviews from notables that include Anthony Daniels of Star Wars; Bud Yorkin, TV and Film producer; and Bing Gordon, Co-Founder of Electronic Arts.

It even comes with an interactive DVD. Get more info here.

Pittsburgh Corporate Attorney David Gurwin Authors Chapter on Video Game Advertising in ETC Press’ Cross-Media Communications Book

David A. Gurwin, a shareholder in the Corporate Finance & Technology Section of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s Pittsburgh office and chair of the firm’s Technology Transactions Group and its Entertainment and Media Law Group, recently authored a chapter in the book “Cross-Media Communications: An Introduction to the Art of Creating Integrated Media Experiences,” published by ETC Press. In the recently released publication, which serves as a “comprehensive guide for anyone who wants to work or play in the emerging terrain created by the interlocking orbits of contemporary media,” Gurwin contributed the chapter, “In-Game Advertising in Video Games.”

To learn more about the publication or to purchase a copy, visit ETC Press’ website,, or click here.

About Gurwin
Gurwin chairs the firm’s Entertainment and Media Law Group. He is also chair of the firm’s Technology Transactions Group, whose members focus on representing companies and individuals — regardless of the industry — with commercial transactions involving technology-related issues. He represents clients in a variety of industries, with a particular focus on Internet, computer, advertising, life sciences and technology clients, as well as those involved in the entertainment industries.


About the Firm
Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC has more than 450 attorneys and government relations professionals practicing throughout the United States, with multiple offices in California, Florida, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as offices in Delaware, Virginia and Washington, D.C.