RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gaming programs across the Triangle are looking local for a talent pool for the area’s growing esports industry.

Many university and technical college programs are joining dozens of companies and roughly 1,800 attendees this week at the East Coast Game Conference in Raleigh.

Ken Turner, game development department head at Wake Technical College, said schools must keep growing their gaming programs alongside the expanding industry in North Carolina.

“We are trying to stay on the cutting edge and the bleeding edge as far as what’s being done and what’s being learned in the industry every day,” Turner said.

Also attending the conference is Wake County native David Klingler, who started as an esports competitor and then turned that passion into his independent game development company, Solanimus.

Klingler said the Triangle’s longstanding base of major gaming companies, like Epic and Ubisoft, creates a strong market for emerging game designers like him.

“That kind of mentorship environment really invited me in and I was able to learn a lot from people that already really knew what they were doing,” Klingler said.

All this comes during an intentional push by the county to establish central North Carolina as a top hub for esports, from a Fortnite tournament in November, to the League of Legends competition earlier this month.

Also, a massive indoor sports complex has been proposed in Cary which includes a full esports arena.

“I think that it can be far bigger than this and this can be a hub for the whole world, for games,” Klingler said.

The East Coast Gaming Conference lasts through Thursday at the Raleigh Convention Center.