If you’re on this page, you are probably pondering a move to Wisconsin to work for one of our myriad cool gaming companies. Great idea! You may come from warmer climes, or are worried that moving to the Midwest means giving up amenities such as music shows, fine dining or running water.
Don’t sweat it. You can poke around the internet and find a ton of stuff about parks, supper clubs breweries, and white people in kayaks, but here are some things you might be interested to know that are a little harder to dig up. So without further ado:
When you think about Wisconsin (If you ever have, before hitting this page), there are some broad generalities that come to mind. Fly-over country. Cows. Packers. Beer. Fat guys, possibly yelling about the Packers while holding a beer.
It’s all true. Wisconsin is largely a rural state, dotted with towns measured by their quantity of bars and stoplights, with the former often outnumbering the latter. It’s big, it’s flat (except for our cool and interesting Driftless Area), it’s kinda empty in a lot of places, and we use waaaay too much sour cream in our Mexican food.
But Wisconsin has a lot of things going for it that you can only appreciate once you’re here.
In the spring, looking out across the plains of Wisconsin’s dairyland is like your own personal earth-toned Rothko painting. You can find a lot of peace in the natural and agricultural scenery. There are also countless little Norman Rockwell-y towns with charming old storefronts, stunning state and National parks, beautiful lakes and rivers...the whole shebang.
The changing of the seasons just accentuates it all. You’ll find out that you have opinions about your favorite type of storm, the best type of snow to watch, or exactly which fall leaf viewing area is the best at which time. Seriously, an appreciation of nature and the seasons is second nature to Wisconsinites.
Look, we’re in an awkward time with divisive politics. Wisconsin has a fairly sharp divide between its rural and urban centers in terms of how things should work in government. But I promise you if you show up in a little restaurant in the middle of nowhere, flash a smile and talk about the weather, you’ll find kind, warm and generous people everywhere, politics be damned. If for some reason it doesn’t go well, you can issue a sick burn by declining to say that it was great to meet them. Midwestern Nice is a thing, and it’s real.
Seriously, it gets cold, and some years winter drags more than you’d like. But you make video games, so you are well aware of fun and constructive ways to wile away indoors. Alternately, have you ever tried sledding, as an adult, with alcohol? Something to consider. Another not often considered perk- when some leather-skinned retiree drones on about how great the sunshine is in their scorched-earth state, you get to *pity* them. Pity will keep you warm, my friends!
I don’t know where you’re moving from, but odds are if you’re coming from a tech hub on the coasts, you are going to cackle with glee at the costs of snagging an apartment or house around here. If you’re weighing your salary for the move, keep in mind that your cost of living is a huge factor in terms of how far that salary will go. You may find that your current rent for a basement broom closet can snag you a two bedroom, or your two bedroom rent can snag you a house.
Wisconsin is dead serious about good beer, good meat, and good dairy. If you find a restaurant in Wisconsin that uses non dairy creamer for their coffee, it’s State Law that you are legally permitted to burn that restaurant to the ground.
If you have opinions about the optimal year for aging cheddar (five years) or find the word “charcuterie” strangely arousing, you’re gonna have a good time.
Step into a grocery store, and you’ll usually find not a cheese section, but a cheese AISLE. That aisle will have a ton of blocks of different things, probably some things you’ve never heard of, and even a humble block of baby swiss is gonna be waaaay better than you expect. Step into a gas station in the middle of anywhere, and there will likely be a non-assuming fridge case with locally cured jerky and sausage, or maybe even a stand with some landjaegers. Get one.
If you’re a vegan, I extend my sympathies, and recommend you focus on living in or near Madison.
Speaking of Madison, a lot of the gaming companies in Wisconsin are there, so I can offer some details.
Madison is a nice Venn diagram of things you’d like in a smaller city and things you’d like in a larger city. It’s an easy place to feel at home in, and there’s lots of stuff happening. It’s also got a ton of smart tech people - places like ZenDesk and Google have figured it out, and have satellites here. Due to the University, there’s also a ton of bio-tech startups. There are several charming Maker Spaces, a bunch of incubators, and generally lots of networking opportunities for tech people (like WGA events!)
I’ve already talked about the broader Wisconsin cuisine, but Madison goes full foodie. There’s so much good food in this town, it’s nuts. Restaurants pop up every day, and the competition for cuisine is pretty cut throat. But that means you get access to a lot of decent-to-awesome place to eat that you wouldn’t expect from a town at this scale. Our Farmer’s Markets are incredible, and access to killer produce (and dairy of course) is considered par for the course. If you like to cook, or like to eat, Madison has got you covered.
The entire reason the WGA exists is that we collectively realized that in terms of a collective pool of game development we’re actually kinda a big deal! Raven has been here since before computers existed or something. Human Head has been cranking games since before you were born. Filament Games and PerBlue do a lot of hiring too. There’s a rack of indies like Flippfly, and Polyculture that make great stuff, and there’s even more up and comers like Aurasync and Sky Ship. Check out the rest of our site, you can see the ever-growing roster of companies doing awesome things with play.
So add it all up, and you’ve got a great place to live. Come check us out!
I suggest June!