The lighter side of real estate

Top 10 Cities for Gamers

Grab your controllers gamers. Movoto surveyed the some of the largest cities in the country to find out which cosmos are the best for fragging space Marines. Check out our list of best cities for gamers.

David Cross

Content Editor

232 articles, 24 comments

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Over the years playing video games has turned from a so-called “nerdy” hobby to a respectable pastime. Yes, there are those who still hate animated adventures, but these are typically the same people who spend hours with their eyes glazed over watching TV.

So, video games, at least in some form and fashion, are here to stay. We’re glad, because most of the Movoto bloggers play some sort of digital games. (Right now, yours truly is crushing on Temple Run 2.)

Our video game habits, in fact, are a regular discussion around our water cooler—or the closest thing we have to a water cooler in our tech-friendly, casual vibe office. Hell, one of us is getting a Triforce tattoo in April, so we feel we are pretty comfortable talking about video games.

One thing that has come up on a regular basis in our smack-talking sessions is if San Francisco, Movoto’s home base, is a good city for gamers. Of course, we think it is. But we live here. We’re biased. Deal with it.

One thing led to another, and we decided to actually figure out what city is the best for video gamers.

What’d we find?

It’s Atlanta, of course. Like we all didn’t see that coming. (No, really. When we’re thinking of gamin’, Atlanta is nowhere near the mark—unless you count video slot machines. We’re down with video slot machines.)

Here’s our full list of top gamer cities:

  1. Atlanta, GA
  2. Seattle, WA
  3. Denver, CO
  4. Portland, OR
  5. San Francisco, CA
  6. Long Beach, CA
  7. Sacramento, CA
  8. Mesa, AZ
  9. Kansas City, MO
  10. San Jose, CA

Don’t believe us? Like all the best strategy games, we have the stats to prove it.

How’d We Do It?

Before we could celebrate saving the princess, we first needed an idea of what makes a city great for video gamers. It turns out that this question is harder to answer than trying to take down Onyxia in Vanilla WoW. (Freaking whelps!)

Why? The definition of a “gamer” is all over the place. There are casual gamers, hardcore gamers, PC and console gamers, and, lest you forget, smartphone-tapping gamers.

In fact, a recent study found that 211 million people in the United States play some type of video games.

With this in mind, we decided to include everyone in our definition, and then brainstormed the types of things people need to have a good gaming experience. This led us to these five categories:

Like our previous analyses of cities, we ranked each cosmo and then took the average score of our five criteria. The city with the lowest score (it’s like Wii golf, duh), in this case Atlanta, took home the top prize as most video game–friendly city.

If You Never Played X-Men in an Arcade, Go Home

Via Flickr user Jimsheaffer

Take a moment to lament the death of America’s arcades; once, these loud fun houses filled America’s strip-mall landscape. Now they’re all but gone, and so is a piece of our childhood. Yes, there are large sanitized arcades that still exist such as Dave and Buster’s, but these just don’t have the same appeal as a grimy hole-in-the-wall that took actual quarters.

We picked arcades because there is a thriving community of gamers who still flock to these diamond-in-the-rough establishments. If there’s an arcade, and we mean a good arcade, in your area, chances are there will be a group of gamers ready to grab a joystick and button mash.

We used Yelp to figure out the number of arcades in each city.

Game Stores

This should be a no-brainer. Gamers need video games and video game accessories. (This sentence should be read in Hank Hill’s voice. Get with the program people.)

We used Yelp to find the number of video game establishments in a city. Think Gamestop and your local mom-and-pop stores.


Not everyone enjoys the rush of gathering 25 random people together to destroy an undead king made of pixels. But we have a strong idea of who plays video games. And no, it isn’t just guys living in their mom’s basement or crashing on their friend’s couch.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, the average video game player is 30 years old and male. (Maybe ESA ignored all the 13-year-old kids playing shooters.) We weren’t entirely surprised by these figures, but we were surprised by some stats when we dug into the research.

It turns out that 53 percent of gamers are male. By default 47 percent are female. And no, the ladies aren’t just playing “Hello Kitty’s Island Adventure.” Take that, stereotypes!

To come up with this figure, we looked at the demographics of each city and found the percentage of the population between 18 and 34 years old.

Entertainment Consumer Association

It’s not all about playing games. Sometimes it’s about defending your favorite game. This is where the Entertainment Consumer Association comes in. ECA is a not-for-profit organization that helps consumers in the United States and Canada advocate for a wide variety of gaming issues.

While not having an ECA chapter in your community probably won’t hurt you, we did give a slight bump to those cities with an existing ECA chapter, or one close-by. For example, in San Francisco’s case there is a chapter around the corner in Emeryville.

Internet Service Providers

We hate lag. We, hate, hate, hate lag. But we love the Internet—probably more than we love our moms. And there can be no Internet without lag.

We chose Internet service providers because social gaming is a big deal. Running around shooting your friends is what makes most games fun.

We looked at Yelp and figured out the number of Internet service providers per person in each city. We wanted to make sure our hardcore gamers had a choice of which Internet company to use when looking to frag some pals.

Atlanta is Better than Seattle

After the scores were tallied, Atlanta came out on top. Just stick with your hipsters, Seattle. Atlanta gamers, feel free to start tea-bagging.

The Movoto blog is a service of Movoto Real Estate. If you’re looking for a new home, keep us in mind. We have up-to-date real estate listings and local agents throughout the country. When you want to take a break from browsing homes, you can keep coming back to read awesome blog posts like this one.

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posted on: March 26, 2013
26,612 views, 11 comments


  1. Viet Nguyen

    These are arguably the worst five criteria you could select to judge gamer suitability. Number of arcades and game stores per capita? Seriously? # of ISP’s? Membership in a consumer association?

    What year is this? 1985?

    Here are five better criteria: 1) # of employees in video game industry per capita 2) number of video game companies headquartered in city per capita 3) average internet speeds as ranked by NetIndex (Ookla) 4) average revenue generated by video game industry per capita 5) # of mobile game app downloads per capita

    And yeah, I live in Seattle.

    • Vianen in response to Viet Nguyen

      Yeah, that would be good criteria for top game industry cities, but not so much for top gamer cities.

    • Michael in response to Viet Nguyen

      Lol, mobile game app downloads. Funny joke.

      Casuals and soccer moms don’t count, my friend.

  2. Mikage-kun

    A bit curious here. I’m an Atlanta resident, and was wondering if there’s a list of the arcades that went into these rankings. I for one just don’t seem to notice that many arcades in Atlanta, or anywhere, for that matter.

    • fghjgf in response to Mikage-kun

      Mountasia, U.S. PLay and Dave & Busters still have arcade games.

      Some movie theaters, restaurants, and shops still have small arcade sections.

  3. Gaspar

    I have to agree that the criteria is for GAMERS and not for gaming industry, etc. If you are a gamer, like me, you are not going into a city because Nintendo Corporation has a headquarter there. You want to go to a city because there are alot of gamers, gaming community, gaming events, etc.
    yet, for that very same reason I think the criteria is flawed. Ask any gamer, andthey are all eager to go to vegas for ces, or Pax or something. Atlanta only has dragoncon, which is ok, but not on the same league.
    Second, gaming launches… and that honor has to go to CA or NY. There is no nintendo world store here, and whne a new top tier game gets released, all the major launches are in NY & CA.
    Now, one aspect that was not mentioned on the piece, and that certainly has Atlanta as a good spot, is gaming community. We got places like “battle and brew”, where people go to play drink and have fun… and if you take the definition of gamer as is (which does not necesarily mean exclusively vide gamers, then you have alot of people in atlanta playing games like warhammer, rpgs, collectible card games, etc… (check avens nest,giga-bites, etc…)

  4. Photonsbefree

    Joystick Gamebar, another point for Atlanta…

  5. garybaldy

    Atlanta also has battle and brew going for it

  6. DH-ATL

    Teabaggers?– you jest– ATL (at least the city proper) is one of the most liberal cities in the South (which admittedly isn’t saying that much)–

  7. OtherATLGuy

    @DH-ATL Tea-Bagging is not refer to the “Tea Party” or politics at all. It’s a gesture by which the winner insults the loser. Specifically, by performing a character movement similar to squatting or kneeling over the face of the loser’s corpse in a first person shooter. Best to check Urban Dictionary for more details and history.

  8. Randy

    Awesome list…thanks for putting it together – It has settled a lot of bets!
    Like some of the others have commented, I was surprised at some of the cities on the list, as well as some of the cities that were NOT on the list. (Agree with Meghan on Utah.) I was also wondering about conventions…what city has the most/biggest video game conventions?


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