Established in 2011 by Vancouver based CG animation and VFX industry professionals, Waterproof Studios is a full-service production studio dedicated to the creation of innovative content for the games, film, TV and animation industries. Their talented in-house team of artists, editors, designers, directors, and producers provide a high-quality artistic vision, technical expertise, management, and direction to all their projects from pre-production to final delivery. The studio strives to provide their clients with first-rate solutions and a co-operative and creative environment for all their production and branding needs.
Waterproof has worked with some of the biggest brands in entertainment such as Warner Brothers, Sony, 2K, Electronic Arts and Nickelodeon, and they boast a resume of projects that include Mortal Kombat X, Splinter Cell, Injustice 2, Fairly Odd Parents, XCOM 2, Final Fantasy and many others. Currently, they have two unannounced AAA cinematic projects in production, a unique augmented reality (AR) marketing project on the go, and their first animated feature film in development. Future plans include moving into animated feature films and working on some of the biggest game IP’s in the world.
Located in a spacious 14,200 square foot facility in Vancouver, they describe their office environment as very laid-back. The studio believes work is work, but it should be fun and somewhere you want to go every day. Thus, they pride themselves on having flexibility with staff and recognize that having a work/life balance is vital for employees.
Waterproof is currently hiring for a variety of roles including previs artists, animators, Unreal artists, TDs, and production staff. Check their website for further details and to apply - http://www.waterproofstudios.com/jobs.php
Anthony Brown, CEO of AMPD Technologies, was selected as the Canadian Investment Champion for G-STAR in South Korea last November. We caught up with him to hear about some of the highlights from the conference… one of which involves winning an international beer pong competition!
Originally hailing from Ontario, Anthony decided to make the move to B.C. more than 20 years ago. Initially, it was just for the mild climate and beautiful scenery, but it didn’t take him long to find his niche in the technology infrastructure sector. Through his first start-up, Seven Group, he found his calling by working with studios in the media and entertainment market that crossed over with technology. He found B.C. to be the leader in Canada for these areas, so he couldn’t have picked a better place to be. Fast forward to current day and Anthony is now co-founder and CEO of AMPD Technologies and Rabid Games. AMPD builds out technology infrastructure with a focus on digital media studios and high-performance computing. They also do hosting, ISP services, and cloud hosting for both development and running live games. Rabid Games is a publishing company focused on high-end PC titles that are based on well-loved IP. They are currently partnered with Piranha Games, who are developing and publishing MechWarrior 5, and are concentrating on building out new markets in Asia and Europe.
It was because of this partnership that Anthony became a strong candidate to be the Canada Investment Champion. CIC is a federally run program that selects an industry executive in a particular field/market to represent the country to key target companies as a place to invest and grow their companies. In this case, it was the games industry in South Korea. Attending G-STAR opened up many doors and enabled face-to-faces with key people Anthony would never have been able to connect with otherwise. DigiBC was on hand to help set up and facilitate meetings with important target companies and introductions to government representatives. Some of the highlights from the jam-packed week included doing a town hall at NC Soft’s building in Seoul, having executive level meetings with BlueHole, Smilegate, Kakao Games, Pearl Abyss, and Webzen, and giving a couple keynote speeches. Last but not least, there was also winning the 3rd annual Beer Pong Championships (games industry vs. Canadian government)!
Anthony presenting at NC Soft in Seoul on 'Why Canada is great for games companies'
If you’re a video game company looking to make contacts and expand your business into international markets then DigiBC can help. Through our extensive network, we can facilitate introductions and provide valuable information to our member companies. Sign up today to become part of our industry association and get connected! For more information on membership benefits and fees, please visit our membership page.
Come meet, interact and network with more than 500 VCs, Corporate VCs, angel investors, investment bankers and CEOs of early stage and emerging growth companies at the prestigious New York Venture Summitbeing held on July 10th & 11th at the Convene, New York City.
This exclusive event put on by youngStartup Ventures will feature more than 50 VCs on interactive panels, presentations from more than50 top innovators and high-level networking opportunities. Whether you are an investor seeking access to new early stage deals, or a CEO or founder of a new venture looking for funding, visibility and growth, #NYVS18 is one event you won’t want to miss.
Diversity continues to be an important driver of business success at Microsoft. As such, they are launching cohort 2 of LEAP Vancouver to supplement their traditional hiring efforts this year. Additionally, they want to empower women with a technical background who wish to re-enter the workplace.
What is LEAP Vancouver?
LEAP Vancouver is a 6-8 month training program which aims to bring in talent to Microsoft from under-represented groups. In turn, this will help their workforce accurately represent the makeup of their customer/consumer base. Moreover, they want to empower and help women with a technical background, re-enter the workplace after an extended leave or with a gap in employment (12+months).
Microsoft is hiring now for the next cohort to work with the newly created Mixed Reality in the Workplace team and the Big Park team. This is a paid contract position with the opportunity to receive a full-time offer if the program is successfully completed. LEAP participants will have access to soft skills/technical training, mentors, and networking opportunities in various Women in Technology events, forums, and roundtables.
Are you a female engineer, program manager or designer looking to return to the workforce and refresh your skills?
For more details of the available LEAP positions: click here
DigiBC attended the 2018 Game Developers Conference held last month at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, sharing a booth with the Government of British Columbia. The conference saw a record 28,000 attendees of industry professionals. It was encouraging to have so many people, from all over the world, stop by to express their interest in coming to B.C. to share their talents with our thriving industry. It gave us the opportunity to highlight what we do to support the intersection of creativity and technology in our province, to showcase our member’s projects and the diverse market available, and of course promote the beauty of our corner of the world. We also had many expats drop by to say ‘hello’ to their fellow Canadians with thoughts of returning home.
We were joined by representatives from BC Trade & Investment and BC Ministry Jobs, Trade and Technology to help explain the ease at which the immigration process can be started. If any of our readers are thinking about making the move to beautiful British Columbia, you can click the links below for more information on immigration, international business in BC, and some of the many jobs available in the area.
DigiBC is always working with our federal, provincial and municipal government partnersto help implement programs that will benefit the industry, and below is a list of some of the recent opportunities we received from our contacts. DigiBC’s Executive Director, Brenda Bailey, is participating in a federal trade mission to China this month to establish and enhance business contacts in the region. Stay tuned for an update and recap on this in next month’s newsletter. In the meantime, here is the list of federal programs provided to us by Yaa-Hemaa from Global Affairs Canada, as well as some industry opportunities from Alana Wagner at the US Trade and Investment office of British Columbia which arose in her discussions at GDC 2018.
Federal Programs (for companies in game development)
CanExport provides 50% reimbursement on eligible expenses for market development initiatives costing $20k to just under $200k, for companies with 2 to 250 employees, $200k to $50m in annual revenue, and entering into a market where they haven't had a sale in the last 24 months. Travel, accommodation, meals, translation of website, consulting and marketing materials are among eligible expenses. Recommend reviewingFAQs, and you can find a list of the eligible and ineligible activitieshere. There’s currently a 5-week turnaround from application to decision for CanExport applications.
Canadian Digital Media Network: Soft-Landing Program provides support for any travel for business development or investment meetings you may have outside of Canada. CDMN’s Soft Landing program provides up to $4k in travel and accommodation to successful applicants, and the current call is for travel between March and June of this year. Deadline to apply is Feb 11th.
Federal Programs (for companies outside of game development)
Going Global Innovation (GGI) is a funding program meant to facilitate the formalization of a contractual agreement between a Canadian and a foreign organization to engage in joint R&D that could lead to commercialized Canadian technology. With a confirmation letter from a potential foreign partner in their interest in exploring an R&D initiative with your company, you can apply for GGI to cover up to 75% of eligible expenses (up to a total of $75k), for expenses such as travel and accommodation, reasonable hospitality, registration fees, translation and interpretation costs, among others. You can request an application package from email@example.com. Applications need to be submitted at least eight weeks prior to your intended travel.
Canadian Technology Accelerators is an initiative that helps Canadian companies with an existing technology, product or service explore opportunities in foreign markets.
Build in Canada Innovation Program provides an opportunity for the Government of Canada its departments to procure a Canadian company's technology and test it within the federal government.
List of opportunities from our US Trade and Investment Director, Alana Wagner. Please contact her directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested and would like an e-intro made.
Zynga: Is your game a fit for Zynga? They are actively looking for games in a genre adjacent to their own games but are also open to other options. The main concern is that the game be social.
Maingames: SE Asia publisher that focuses on mid to hardcore games. If you are interested in publishing your game in SE Asia (Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Australia) this publisher would like to talk to you.
Disruptor Beam: This Boston-area company builds story-rich mobile games that connect players around popular franchises including Game of Thrones, Star Trek, and The Walking Dead. They are interested in partnerships/co-development/work-for-hire deals with mobile or mobile F2P companies on their new or existing products.
Nickelodeon: Are you interested in making games with Nickelodeon? They are open to pitches for their content (both current and older content, as well as cross property) in a unique brand appropriate way that is good for kids and families. This could be a co-development/work for hire/licensing opportunity.
On February 12, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) hosted their annual Video Games on the Hill showcase for parliamentarians and hill staff. The event was held for the first time at the Sir John A Macdonald building in Ottawa, offering an opportunity for members to once again expand their booths and interactive experiences. Member participation included: Ubisoft Montreal, Nintendo Canada, Other Ocean, EA, PlayStation Canada, Xbox Canada, Ludia, and Eidos Montreal.
Sean Casey, MP for Charlottetown and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage greets the Canadian entertainment software industry.
#VideoGamesontheHill brought together 23 Members of Parliament, 2 Ministers and over 200 guests, with special appearances from the world’s most beloved plumber Mario and his trusty sidekick Luigi. Guests were immersed in the world of games and given the opportunity to play some of the most recent games and consoles on the market, including NHL 18, Cuphead, Starlink, Jurassic World, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation VR, and many others.
The event was presented with the participation of Sean Casey, MP for Charlottetown and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage. Mr. Casey spoke on behalf of the federal government and their ongoing support for Canada’s innovative and established video game industry. In addition to the evening showcase, ESAC and board members participated in a number of meetings with government officials in Ottawa. The meeting program included discussions on the upcoming review of the Copyright Act and updates for officials on the effectiveness of the recently implemented Global Talent Stream.
ESAC would like to thank its members and guests for their participation, which contributes to the growth and development of the annual Video Games on the Hill showcase & parliamentary day. For more information, contact Jayson Hilchie at email@example.com
Shelley Coultish and Karyn Derby from Telefilm Canada were in Vancouver on February 22 and Victoria on February 23 to promote the Experimental Stream of funding through the Canada Media Fund (CMF). The Experimental Stream encourages the development of interactive digital media content and software applications that are on the leading edge of innovation. It was a successful event with opening remarks provided by Catherine Warren, President of the Centre for Digital Media & Great Northern Way Trust, and Brenda Bailey, Executive Director of DigiBC, which led into an informative presentation by Shelley Coultish and then a full schedule of individual meetings for companies that have projects looking for funding.
Blackbird Interactive is an independent video game studio located in Vancouver, BC. It was founded in 2007 by a team of former Relic Entertainment and Electronic Arts employees and in true start-up fashion, the company began in the garage of the CEO, Rob Cunningham. In 2010, the studio moved to its current location, a converted industrial space on Great Northern Way that was formerly used for servicing heavy machinery and vehicles. BBI currently has over a 100 employees and is rapidly continuing to grow. They have more than doubled in size in the last year and a half, and are subsequently moving to a brand new 29,000 square foot studio by the end of 2018.
The studio launched itsfirstgameHomeworld: Deserts of Kharak™ in January of 2016. This is a PC real-time strategy game available onSteam, and published by Gearbox Publishing. It is the prequel to the acclaimed Homeworldseries originally made by Relic and published by Sierra in 1999. In 2017, BBI partnered with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to create Project Eagle, an interactive art demo of a future Mars colony in Gale Crater at the base of Mount Sharp (near the original landing site of the Mars Curiosity Rover). It is set in 2117, 44 Martian years (82.8 Earth years) after the first human mission to Mars. Project Eagle was built to be presented live on stage at the 2017 D.I.C.E. Summit. Currently, BBI is working on three super exciting secret projects. While they are not quite ready to share any of the details, the studio can assure you that they are incredibly stoked to be working on all of them!
Blackbird prides itself on having a company culture that is founded on creativity, community, and collaboration. They believe that great ideas can come from any position in any discipline and they strive to make certain that every voice is heard. The studio has worked hard to ensure that employees have a solid work/life balance and are provided an environment where they are truly happy to come to every day. In addition, company events such as picnics, board game nights, field trips, camp days, movie trips, and parties are regular occurrences throughout the year.
If you’ve liked what you’ve heard and think BBI could be the place for you then you’re in luck! They are currently hiring and have a number of new openings, so be sure to check the website for further details on what positions are available.https://blackbirdinteractive.com/jobs/
It’s time to start thinking about your 2017 Personal Tax Return – April 30 is fast approaching. The following is a summary of changes and updates that may impact your taxes and the information you need to gather.
ELIMINATED TAX CREDITS
Education and textbook tax credit– Effective January 1, 2017, the federal education and textbook tax credits were eliminated. This measure did not eliminate the tuition tax credit, and it does not affect the ability to carry forward unused education and textbook credit amounts from years prior to 2017.
Canada caregiver credit– The caregiver credit, infirm dependent credit, and family caregiver tax credit have all been replaced by the new Canada caregiver credit. This provides a tax credit of 15% of up to $6,883 of expenses incurred for the care of dependent relatives with infirmities, and 15% of up to $2,150 on expenses incurred for the care of a dependent spouse, common-law partner or minor child with an infirmity.
Children arts and fitness credit– The federal children's arts and fitness tax credits have been eliminated for the 2017 taxation year. The BC child arts and fitness tax credits will be eliminated in 2018.
Public transit tax credit– This credit was eliminated as of July 1, 2017, which means you can only claim eligible public transit expenses if they were incurred prior to that date.
CHANGES AT CANADA REVENUE AGENCY
File My Return– CRA has launched a new service which will allow eligible Canadians to file their tax returns over the phone through an automated service. This service is for those individuals who have simple tax returns.
Launch of BizApp– CRA has released a new app to allow small businesses and sole proprietors to make pre-authorized payments to their corporation, GST or HST tax and payroll account.
Paying taxes in person– CRA has now made it easier to pay your individual taxes and other select payments in person. Individuals can now pay using debit or cash at any Canada Post outlet but first need to create a payment barcode online.
OTHER THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND
The deadline to contribute to your RRSP is on March 1, 2018, for the 2017 taxation year.
Sale of principal residence– Starting in 2016, if a taxpayer sells their primary residence, it will need to be reported on the tax return (date of acquisition, proceeds of disposition and description of property)
Increase in tax rate– The top federal/B.C personal marginal tax rate has increased from 47.7% in 2017 to 49.8% in 2018.
Charitable donations– 2018 will be the last year that taxpayers can claim the Federal First-Time Donor’s super credit if the taxpayer and their spouse has not claimed it from 2008-2016. This credit provides up to additional 25% tax credit on the first $1,000 of donations claimed.
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2017 marked 20 years since a forward-thinking group of folks decided that British Columbia should have an organization to foster the growth of the digital media sector in the province and formed New Media BC, which merged with WinBC in 2009 to form the basis of our current DigiBC organization. As we enter our third decade of supporting the Interactive and Digital Media industry here in BC, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the last 12 months, and look forward to what’s ahead for the organization in 2018 and beyond.
2017 was a year of renewal and revitalization for DigiBC. We re-established our mission and mandate squarely at the intersection of ‘Where Creative and Technology Meet’. Serving and promoting the adjacent sectors of interactive & video gaming, animation & visual effects and digital marketing/creative was re-established as our primary focus. A new, smaller board of highly committed directors [DigiBC BoD] is now in place and is qualified and excited to take this mandate forward.
Our member companies are characterized by the balance of creative and technology roles within their organizations, blending cutting-edge technology with artistic and creative genius to bring stories, worlds, and experiences to life on digital devices for an ever-increasing number of consumers around the globe. Thanks to BC’s rich history of video game development, the province is becoming a hotbed for Mixed Reality development across multiple sectors. 2017 saw our member companies embracing AR / VR platforms, and our audience expand to include people using our products and services for commercial and enterprise, as well entertainment and educational purposes.
DigiBC was responsible for the introduction of theInteractive Digital Media Tax Credit (IDMTC) in 2010, and once again spent a great deal of time engaged with the provincial government to help educate, guide and inform the new administration around the importance of the credit to the stability and growth of our sector. We delivered our ‘Recommendations Relating to the IDMTC’ white paper in November 2017 and continue to be engaged in a series of ongoing consultations with multiple ministries across government in the run-up to the budget in February 2018. Our key message: that a healthy and vibrant creative technology sector underpins success in broader innovation strategies. Our key asks: that the IDMTC be i) extended indefinitely ii) be increased in a fiscally responsible way so that the scheme remains revenue positive for the province and iii) that interactive Mixed Reality products qualify for the tax credit.
We also contributed to the development of theDigital Technology Supercluster Proposal (as it related to our Creative Technology Sector) and engaged with the federal and provincial government on issues relating to immigration and NOC code changes that would negatively affect the ability of our animation and visual effects companies to continue their growth in the province.
Our role in the ecosystem is now clear, and we are developing closer cooperation with organizations such asCreative BC,MPPIA, andBC Tech, all of whom contribute to the success of our creative technology companies in various ways. But we understand that the Creative Technology sector has unique characteristics, opportunities, and challenges that demand a distinct voice.
One of the key advantages our sector holds is our natural appeal to youth and the fact that we employ a wide range of people from different backgrounds and skill sets. Video games, animated movies, and VFX are arguably the most accessible faces of technology to the broader population. The natural ‘curb appeal’ of creative tech continues to motivate many young people to consider careers in technology.
For example, playing video games leads to a desire to want to make video games, which in turn can lead to a broader application of critical and creative thinking, programming, and other skills across all employment sectors. Because of this, DigiBC has been working hard to develop and support a series of educational initiatives, including discussions with the Ministry of Education and private industry around a formal Education Foundation. The Education Foundation initiative plans for a website & events that will foster cooperation between our industry and students, teachers, parents and life-long learners, and support for theBC Game Developers Innovation Award in conjunction with theScience Fair Foundation of BC.
DigiBC conducted a number of ‘DigiMissions’ throughout the year, assisting member companies to participate in events such as theGlobal VR Summit in Seoul in May,Gamescom in Cologne in August,G-Star in Busan in November, and theVRX Summit in San Francisco in December. The aim of these activities was to both directly assist our member companies in accessing opportunities in overseas markets, as well as raising DigiBC’s profile as the voice of creative technology in the province.
We receive an increasing number of inquiries from overseas companies looking to establish in BC and work with colleagues at theBC Trade Office and others to encourage this inward investment, raising the number of employment opportunities for local people in the sector.
Last week, I traveled to Seoul to join Premier John Horgan’s mission to Asia, along with the Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, Hon. Bruce Ralston, during which DigiBC signed a three-year collaboration agreement with the Gyeonggi Contents Agency as part of the broader three-year action plan between British Columbia and Gyeonggi Province (Greater Seoul).
Digital media is highlighted as a key focus area in the action plan, and DigiBC is proud to be helping drive this type of international business development for our sector. It was gratifying to be invited by the Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Tourism to participate in this mission, and underlines how DigiBC plays a role in helping advise the government in relation to creative technology as a cornerstone of the broader tech and innovation strategy within the province.
DigiBC and the Gyeonggi Contents Agency sign a three-year collaboration plan during a recent mission to Asia
From left to right: Hon. John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia, Canada; James Hursthouse, Executive Director, DigiBC; Chang-hee Oh, President, Gyeonggi Content Agency; Kyung-pil Nam, Governor of Gyeonggi Province, Republic of Korea
I would like to let everyone know that as of today, I am stepping down from my role as Executive Director of DigiBC. It has been an enjoyable and rewarding 18 months since the board asked me to take on the role, and I am proud of what we have been able to achieve.
The organization has reached the point where it requires a full-time ED with an exclusive focus on DigiBC, and with new business opportunities continuing to flourish for me, it's time to hand over the reins to someone who will drive the organization forward on a full-time basis. I am very pleased to announce that Brenda Bailey has joined DigiBC as our new, full-time Executive Director. You can read the full announcementhere. Brenda brings a wealth of experience in both the digital media and non-profit sectors, and the board could not be happier to have her lead DigiBC into its next exciting chapters.
I will be continuing with DigiBC as a board member, and look forward to working with the board and Brenda to build on the progress made in 2017. Finally, I would like to thank all our members for their ongoing support and participation, and encourage you, if you’re reading this and are not already members of Digi, or you have let your membership lapsed, to sign up or renew, and join us as we continue to grow this fabulous creative tech sector in the province.
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Hyper Hippo is an award-winning independent studio located in Kelowna, BC. It was co-founded in 2012 by Club Penguin founder Lance Priebe and Pascale Audette, a former employee of Disney Online Studios Canada. Since 2014, they have had over 50 releases to the web, mobile, Steam, and PlayStation platforms and their games have been played by millions of people worldwide. Two of these games recently scored big with AdVenture Communist featured as ‘Game of the Day’ in the Apple store on January 5/18, and AdVenture Capitalistbeating out over 70 games to win the ‘Best Instant Game 2017’ for Facebook Instant Messenger.
A key factor that sets this studio apart is their dedication to player support, and this is illustrated by their use of real-time customer service ratings shown on their website. They very much depend on feedback from their players to help them create better gaming experiences. With a current rating of ‘90% overall happiness', they are certainly doing something right!
ESAC Presents: “Beyond Entertainment: How Video Games Are Driving Innovation”
The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development delivers remarks at ESAC’s Beyond Entertainment conference last October.
The video game industry has not only revolutionized entertainment but is also playing a central role in the development and commercialization of innovative technology. On October 23, 2017, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) held a 1-day conference and showcase in Ottawa to demonstrate how a fast-growing entertainment sector is now driving efficiency and revolutionizing sectors like healthcare, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality and graphics. Over 100 industry and government officials were in attendance and the conference included a keynote address by the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Guests were able to experience cutting-edge innovation first-hand while presenters from leading tech companies provided a glimpse into the technology of tomorrow – all made possible from technologies first conceived for video games.
Experts from Epic Games, Finger Food Studios, Ubisoft, Nvidia, Digital Dimension, EA, UOIT, Games Institute, Silverback Games, Jintronix, Amblyotech, Pelesys Learning Systems, and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre joined together to present and demonstrate the success of their products or practices.
ESAC Launches its 2017 Essential Facts Research about the Canadian Video Game Industry
President & CEO Jayson Hilchie presenting the 2017 Essential Facts to the Vancouver industry last November.
On November 1, 2017, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) unveiled new research about the Canadian video game industry. Prepared for ESAC by Nordicity, the 2017 research highlights the economic status of the industry, including information pertaining to the industry’s GDP contribution, employment statistics, output, project resources, innovation data, revenue, and other related materials.
The Association launched its annual Essential Facts about the Canadian video game industry which features some of the key stats from the research and snapshots of the industry. Following the launch, ESAC launched a cross-country tour, stopping in Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and Halifax to discuss the results of the study. President & CEO Jayson Hilchie presented an outline of the 2017 research to most of the industry’s top companies through the course of three months, with an extended overview at the Montreal International Games Summit (MIGS) in December 2017.
With nearly 600 active video game companies in Canada generating 21,700 direct full-time jobs, the Canadian video game industry is contributing $3.7 billion to Canada’s GDP annually. Essential Facts 2017 is the principle vehicle to communicate key facts and economic research about Canada’s video game industry. It helps broaden the awareness of ESAC and its mandate and serves as a critical tool for advocacy and lobbying. Essential Facts is routinely cited by governments, in news articles, business networks, and other related industry research across the globe.
Victoria is home to a thriving cluster of video game studios. One of the members of the Victoria gaming industry community is KANO/APPS, an independent studio founded by Tim Teh, Eric Alpini and Eric Haight back in 2008. Makers of games for mobile devices, KANO/APPS has grown into a role as one of the major game studios in our province's capital city, as well as a successful example of high tech entrepreneurship for British Columbia.
KANO/APPS joined DigiBC over the summer. Recently I took the opportunity to reach out to CEO/Co-founder Tim Teh about doing an interview with him. I wanted to learn more about his company, his challenges with being a gaming entrepreneur, and how KANO/APPS fits into our local gaming ecosystem. Plus, maybe a bit about some old school video gaming favorites of his.
DIGIBC: For those readers that aren’t familiar, tell us a little bit about KANO/APPS and the products you create.
TIM TEH, Co-founder/CEO: KANO/APPS is an indie developer of F2P social/mobile games. We bootstrapped our start as an early developer on the Facebook platform, then extended our success there across other popular gaming destinations like Kongregate, Armor Games and more recently iOS and Android. We’re proud to say that eight years later we are still growingand remain self funded and profitable.
While externally we have focused on building great long term gaming experiences, internally we have strived to create a studio with great culture and perks to attract A-Player talent and give them huge amounts of ownership to create great things.
We have http://www.kanoapps.com/games/5 successful titles including Mob Wars LCN and Viking Clan, which are MMRPGs, and Free Rider HD which is like the Minecraft of racing games. Players in Free Rider create tracks that their friends can race each other on using a stickman with lifelike physics. It’s super addicting.
DIGIBC: What was the greatest challenge you encountered as an indie video games developer starting up in Victoria?
This has definitely changed over time with Victoria growing to be an amazing community for startups. Tech is now the number one industry in the city, generating four billion in annual revenues. With direct flights to San Francisco, accelerator programs, the second most restaurants per capita in North America, a close proximity to nature, and excellent post secondary institutions, it’s really a great place to start and grow a business.
DIGIBC: We’ve heard some cool things about the close gaming community in Victoria. What can you tell us about the Victoria video gaming industry scene? How is it different from Vancouver’s, and what could Vancouver do more of to tap into the uniqueness (or collaborate with) the Victoria hub?
TIM: I was just over in Vancouver at an industry pub night run by our friends at ESG [East Side Games] and got a chance to “talk shop” with other founders and leaders there, so from what I have seen, Vancouver seems pretty collaborative. In Victoria, we definitely share that collaboration. A lot of the studios are 10-20 person shops, and being that we cater to a global audience, we don’t really see each other as competitors; rather we look to pool knowledge to help each other succeed. Sure, we do compete on the talent level, but looking long term, we understand that the more home grown local successes we produce, the better it will be for Victoria as a whole to attract more talent. I think this forward thinking mentality is what makes Victoria a great community to be in.
DIGIBC: Growing up, what was the video game that first got you hooked?
TIM: With the NES classic selling out so quickly this holiday season, I have really been reminded of how much my brothers and I loved playing on that system. Super Mario Bros, Zelda, Metroid… all classics that got me “hooked”.
DIGIBC: Do any of the games from your childhood inform the work you create today?
TIM: I’d say they do a little bit, but I think the idea of what a video game is has really changed over the years and if you inform your game design around a small subset of what a quote/unquote “good game” is, you may be missing out on an opportunity to reach different audiences. For example, who would have thought that with the rise of social/mobile that your mother, (yes, that same mother who told you that playing games would rot your brain) would be playing games like Candy Crush and FarmVille AND spending more money than you had for your entire gaming collection as a kid. I don’t necessarily like those games, but there is a whole audience of people who do.
We don’t make games that cater to that specific “mom” demographic, but our games definitely appeal to an audience of players who play games socially and enjoy forging friendships and relationships globally through our games. What we have learned is not to try to inform the games we make by what we like, but to use player feedback and data to better understand what our players want and to create those experiences.
DIGIBC: Browsing the KANO Community forums, it’s clear communication is central to your company ethos. Players are encouraged to share their ideas and voice their concerns directly to developers, artists and engineers. We have a similar philosophy here at DigiBC. What kind of conversations would you like to see happen within the creative digital industry of BC?
TIM: I think open and collaborative conversation is important. There are so many great companies and bright minds and we all know that putting more heads on a problem can help you get answers faster. There are lots of problems/issues that many companies are struggling with individually, where we should all be focusing on solving some of those things together. A great example of an issue where we'd really benefit from working together on is how to counteract implicit bias. We should be actively discussing social issues in tech and changing attitudes around topics like gender and racial diversity in the workplace.
Mob Wars, one of the titles that have made the company a success.
DIGIBC: As CEO of KANO/APPS, what are you proudest of? What have you found most fulfilling?
TIM: I’m most proud of the talented team that we have created who bring diverse skillsets and no ego together to create amazing games. I’m also really proud of the joy we create for our communities of players every day. We have had something like three marriages and two children born from players who met playing our games. That is pretty spectacular if you think about it.
DIGIBC: Similarly, what’s the most important piece of advice you could give to someone considering opening their own games studio and being an entrepreneur?
TIM: Prepare for the long haul and make friends with other entrepreneurs because no one else will understand you. Use your networks to meet like minded individuals, read lots of books and don’t forget to exercise.
DIGIBC: Your twitter bio reads: “Social games for every platform and every player.” Can you tell us about any future projects or platforms that we should look out for?
TIM: Well, KANO/APPS builds long lasting social games around communities. Viking Clan for example is eight years old and has players from month one still engaging daily. Using HTML5 for our games has allowed us to create communities across different platforms without boundaries and I think using our tech to easily extend our games to Steam would be a natural progression for us.
With respect to projects, players can expect projects from KANO/APPS that focus on creating meaningful social interactions and on endless gaming experiences that we will support for years to come. Our next major release will be to bring Free Rider HD to iOS and Android so look out for that.
DIGIBC: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about KANO/APPS?
Next year marks the 35th anniversary of the first video game made in BC. Since the release of Evolution back in 1982, hundreds of games have been created by Vancouver gaming studios (and later on, studios based in Victoria, Kelowna and elsewhere in our province). But what’s not as well-known is the number of scary video games that were made right here in BC. Our local video games studios have created spooktacular games ranging from all-out survival horror shooters to lighter-edged frightfests in colourful fantasy worlds. In many cases, these games helped build today’s thriving video games industry in British Columbia, and provided millions of hours of fun for gamers worldwide.
With the imminent arrival of Halloween just around the corner, DigiBC would like to show you 15 of the ghoulishly greatest games ever made in British Columbia, and shine a frightlight on the creative teams that made them. Some are more recent, some are classics, but all have chills and thrills galore.
Our first game is a great example of danger hidden in beautiful things. Made by Raphael van Lierop and his team at Vancouver Island-based Hinterland Studio, The Long Dark leaves you stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness in the dead of winter. Don’t let the beautiful graphics and mesmerizing scenery fool you because this is a survival-based game, and death is already stalking you. Hunger, wildlife, freezing temperatures and the danger of the unknown are out to get you.
Released two years ago, The Long Dark commands an impressive 94% positive rating on Steam. New additions are always being released, and I expect to see many more gamers succumb to the elements and isolation in the years to come.
If you don’t like the dark, this title is perfect to scare you to pieces. Wick is a survival horror game by local indie publisher Hellbent Games, and they wanted to make a game that would push your fear button.
You’re tasked with exploring a haunted woodland where legend has it young children went missing. There are reports of childlike voices emanating from the forest – but only at night and when just the dim light of a candle is present. Want to go see if there are any truth to these tales?
Arguably the biggest horror franchise in Vancouver’s video games industry, the Dead Rising series is a worldwide bestseller for Capcom. The first game was made by Capcom in Japan, but in 2010 Burnaby-based Blue Castle Games got handed sequel duties and took the zombie beat-em-up action to a whole new level. Eventually Blue Castle was acquired by Capcom and rebranded Capcom Vancouver, producing Dead Rising 3. A Dead Rising 4 is nearing completion and scheduled for release in 2017.
There’s two things that you can count on with a Dead Rising videogame: plenty of zombies to smash, crush, grind up and cut down, and plenty of creative ways to dispatch the legions of dead folk.
And a head's up: Dead Rising 4 hits store shelves on December 6!
Another Burnaby gaming studio, Digital Scapes is comprised of veteran developers from a number of older gaming studios. In 2014 the company was approached by Warner Bros. to develop the player-versus-player campaign of Dying Light, a zombie actioner on PS3 and Xbox. Impressed by their work on this portion of the game, the studio asked Digital Scapes to go on and created and operate Dying Light’s cloud-based online service, which allows developers to collect telemetry data and tune the game in real time, as well as run a range of publicity events within the game world.
It can’t be coincidence that two rocking zombie actioner games just happened to be made in Burnaby, can it? Just what’s happening out by Boundary and Willingdon anyway?
One of the unsung heroes of Vancouver’s video games industry is the team at Disruptive Publishers. While other gaming studios are coding and designing console and PC games and get to bask in the glory and acclaim from releasing a title, the gang at DP create the skins, avatars and digital content that gamers purchase at online stores on Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus. And over the years they have created hundreds of scary forms of digital content.
Along with zombie pirates, sexy witches and glowing pumpkins, Disruptive Publishers has also been creating a good chunk of the digital goods that you find on Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus. Their content is wide and diverse, from skins and avatar collectibles to show off your fan badge for triple-A titles to virtual items from movies, TV shows, your favourite bands and celebrities, as well as holiday items. There's plenty of ghoulish treats that Disruptive's team has made in the Microsoft and PlayStation stores.
“Every Colonist has heard the tales of The Pit. Some say it doesn't exist. Some say it does. All agree only a fool would go looking for it.”
That’s the introductory preamble for this spinoff title in Kerberos’ Sword of the Stars universe. On a distant planet, your character ventures into the depths of a seemingly bottomless pit where the promise of a cure to a planetary plague awaits. Of course, it just can’t be that easy, and there are things that like to go bump in the night down in the darkness.
Kerberos founder Christopher Stewart is a fan of H.P. Lovecraft, and there are elements from cosmic horror to be found in The Pit’s gameplay. The Pit is still a rewarding title to play, and the reviews on Steam lean towards being very favorable.
OK, this entry is a bit of a cheat: the game isn’t out yet. Nevertheless, I’m excited by the premise and slick concept art that’s been shown.
Based on Inuit folklore, a Qalupalik is a creature that supposedly lives under the ice. It likes to emerge from the cold water to grab Inuit children that stray too close to the ice cracks. And in the springtime, when the game takes place, the ice is breaking up. Can you find your missing brother and evade the Qalupalik that stalks beneath your bundled feet?
Right now you can see some great concept art for the Qalupalik and the game’s atmosphere on the official website. This is one title to keep your eyes open for.
This title is so new it’s still got its' baby bracelet on: Gears of War 4 is this season’s big Xbox title. The Coalition had big shoes to fill, stepping in to create the next chapter in the billion-dollar grossing Gears of War gaming franchise. The reviews have been pretty spectacular, with IGN giving GoW 4 a 9.2 rating out of ten in their review.
Gears of War is known for having a lot of mayhem and carnage, but there are also elements of suspense and terror baked into gameplay. The Locust Horde that players fight against features creatures of titanic size and horrific body shapes, with bioluminescent carapaces and multisegmented eyes rushing at you like a nightmarish freight train from your subconscious mind. That’s enough to give players a good chance at producing nightmares.
This is an impressive first release by The Coalition. I can't wait to see what else this team makes next.
Jamie Cheng’s Don’t Starve is a dark fantasy with lighthearted elements. Released in 2013 to universal praise, the game went on to be a bestseller on both PC and PlayStation, with a sequel/spinoff released in 2015. The game’s unique character design and atmosphere have been favorably compared to Tim Burton.
You play as Wilson, a gentleman scientist who creates a device that pulls him into another world. On the other side, Wilson needs to find items to remain alive and healthy while avoiding dangerous monsters when night falls. The game allows for crafting of items so you’ll need to use your smarts as much as your hunting skills to acquire important items if you’re to make it through each day.
When Nintendo selected a developer to work on a sequel to its hit videogame Luigi’s Mansion, they eventually chose Vancouver’s Next Level Games as their partner. Released in 2013 on the Nintendo 3DS, Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was a runaway bestseller; to date, Wikipedia claims that over 5 million copies of the 3DS title have been sold.
You control the green-suited brother of Mario, Luigi, as he travels through five different spooky areas of Evershade Valley to recover the Dark Moon and defeat a nefarious Professor. There are loads of cute ghost creatures to overcome, and the game’s all-ages approach to its content isn’t sacrificed for its gameplay or replayability. Plus, any game that has a ghostly cute dog called a Polterpup gets bonus marks from me.
There seems to be a million games that are dungeon crawlers but there’s just one where the character’s sanity is an important point to the gameplay. Darkest Dungeon asks gamers to think about the mental trauma that adventurers face when descending into the dark and facing unspeakable horrors in close-quarter combat.
Sure, there’s gold and loot to be won in the dungeons you traverse, but there’s an unsettling story also being uncovered with every step forward that you take. Why are the monsters inhabiting this dungeon beneath your family’s lands? What sort of nightmare lies awaiting you in the final chamber, and why does defeating it not bode well for the future of everyone on the planet? Those sort of big picture questions face your character as you make your way through the torchlighted catacombs towards your ultimate destiny. It's spooky, scary and addictively fun.
Minecraft meets Friday the 13th. If that pitch doesn’t getcha, you don’t have a soul.
Slayaway Camp is the newly released title from Vancouver Island indie studio Blue Wizard. If you’ve ever wanted to play as a masked killer terrorizing teens in a remote location, Slayaway Camp wants to be your new BFF.
You become a masked maniac by the name of Skullface, and your job is dead simple: catch and dispatch those pesky blockheaded teens running around your turf and do it with extreme prejudice. Done in a tongue-in-the-cheek manner and with excellent command of all that cheesy goodness found in early 1980s slasher movies, Slayaway Camp is an excellent way to spend a couple of hours on a dark night.
Before the time of Sharknado (but after the rise of Shark Week) there was Jaws Revenge, an iOS game developed by Hothead Games. Universal’s Jaws movie franchise had already been run into the ground by the movie called Jaws: The Revenge, so a mobile game was actually a step up for the tarnished IP.
While it may not have won any awards for its storyline, what Jaws Revenge does offer is some unabashed fun playing as a great white shark to the nth degree. No one is safe in the water as you munch and gobble people, boats, and eventually, aircraft. Look, if SyFy Channel can get away with 4 Sharknado movies (and counting), don’t disrespect an iOS game that lets you eat gunships in the air. The shark’s gotta do what the shark’s gotta do.
Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City by Slant Six Games
This spinoff of Capcom’s immensely popular Resident Evil franchise was a third-person shooter for PS3, Xbox and PC released in 2012. You play as the soldiers assigned to go in and contain the rapidly spreading zombie infestation in Raccoon City. Along the way you encounter characters from the main Resident Evil storyline.
Though the game received mixed reviews, it was a decent seller and embraced by fans of the Resident Evil franchise wanting to explore more of that world. Plenty of jumpscares, grossed-out monsters and action kept the storyline moving along at a quick pace. Over two million copies of Operation Raccoon City were sold.
Unfortunately, Slant Six shut down its operations but is fondly remembered amongst the pros working in Vancouver's gaming industry.
One of the biggest IPs in entertainment today, The Walking Dead has a Vancouver connection by way of Road to Survival, the hit mobile videogame. Released in the summer of 2015 to Android and iOS devices, Road to Survival features characters from the Walking Dead comic book/TV series fighting walkers and advancing in missions. Daily unique missions and special tournaments also enhance gameplay.
Road to Survival hit #1 on Apple’s iTunes store, cementing it as another bona fide hit video game made in Vancouver. In an interview shortly after the release of the game, one of the publisher’s VP said that more people had killed walkers than the entire population of Australia (that being 23 million folk down under.)
If you're in the mood for something to play on Halloween night, think about downloading or dusting off one of these great titles. Which ones are among your favorites to play, or did I miss one from the list? Or did you happen to work on one of these back in the day?
Share your thoughts about these locally made video games in the comments below and let's hear from the local BC gaming community!
It's been one year since Sony Imageworks had the grand opening of their new downtown Vancouver location, and in that time, a lot has happened for the studio. Two major animated movies that Imageworks Vancouver worked on were released (autumn 2015's Hotel Transylvania 2 and this summer's Angry Birds), and the visual effects for many other Hollywood blockbusters were also crafted inside the mammoth 70,000 sq. ft. studio space.
I was at the grand opening event last summer, and touring the Imageworks space was impressive. In addition to hundreds of workstations for the digital artists, there are also 11 theaters where teams can meet and go over sequences that they are working on. On display in the central hallway are movie costumes and props from Sony's first, second and third live-action Spider-Man movies. There are also rooms where the workers can kick back and recharge in-between animating their next sequence, soaking in downtown Vancouver's natural beauty from floor-to-ceiling windows while sitting in a beanbag chair.
Yeah, I thought that this guy looked familiar...
Props and a Green Goblin mask from Sony's Spider-Man movie released in 2002 and weapons/gadgets from a Men in Black movie.
Now you can see what the inside of Sony Imageworks' HQ is like for yourself in a newly released video. While there isn't any shots of the Spider-Man movie swag, you'll definitely get to see the clusters of compositors, rotoscopers, environmental and character artists working hard on the big screen releases you'll be seeing at theaters soon.
If what you see interests you, DigiBC is always posting new openings at Imageworks on our Jobs Board. You can also learn the craft and get started pursuing a career as a visual effects artist by taking a program at one of several highly-ranked media schools right here in town.
If you visit the Metropolis Mall at Metrotown before September 5 you can experience a one-of-a-kind immersive video and audio experience partially designed by Vancouver-based Go2 Productions. Called MIRAGE, this art installation gives mall visitors a 2-minute experience where their senses of depth are blown away using cutting-edge projection technology.
Adrian Scott is the President and Executive Creative Director for Go2. He took a few moments from his day to speak with DigiBC about MIRAGE and its creation, as well as the kind of cutting edge tech that Go2 is using to dazzle spectators and impress their clients.
DIGIBC:How did the MIRAGE project get its start?
ADRIAN: The concept and engineering for the room came from BOLD Event Creative. They worked with Metropolis last year on a different project called the Infinite Light Room. Both BOLD and Metropolis were really happy with the success of it, they had over 1,000 people coming through that event when it was up last year.
So BOLD contacted us about taking it a step further. We immediately thought about incorporating our latest work with projection and making this new experience a little more immersive. Our team was responsible for developing the technology solution and designing and producing the projected content and soundscape. A perfect partnership.
We wanted to develop a concept that would be ambient enough for all ages and not scary for younger people. It would be a 2-minute experience where people can experience illusion in a way that they haven’t before.
Two looks inside the #METMIRAGE installation at Metropolis at Metrotown Mall.
DIGIBC:Describe what MIRAGE is like to someone stepping inside of it.
ADRIAN: When you see it from the outside, it’s a 20-foot square box. When you walk in, the person takes a journey of light and dark, into a colorful expansive geometric illusion. What they get to experience is an expansive feeling.
I’m a fan of Doctor Who, so I like using the way that they describe the Doctor’s TARDIS. From outside METMirage looks like a big cube, but once you are inside your brain thinks that it’s a lot bigger. Just like the TARDIS!
But that feeling we wanted people to have when they are standing in the mall looking at the outside of it is: what’s inside that big box? And what’s happening inside of it?
DIGIBC: What kind of technologies did Go2 work on for the MIRAGE experience?
ADRIAN: We use four Optoma DLP projector ultra-short throw projectors inside the installation. These create the 360-degree visuals that people experience once inside. Just getting the projectors to pull of the ideas we had was quite a challenge in itself.
For example, we came up with a unique arrangement for the projectors in the room, what I would call a “jigsaw puzzle” solution. You can’t have the projectors throwing the images overlapping with the other projector’s image. That meant the positioning of the projectors was especially crucial. We knew that it would be very tight.
In the end it worked out to be 8-degree tilt on the projectors that worked and gave us the effect we needed, to make sure that there was never a gap between the floor and ceiling. In doing that, we’re turning a rectangular image into an inverted trapezoid. Limitations of the lenses, the equipment, the whole science behind how projection works was put to test.
Go2 also created all of the graphics that you see inside the experience, as well as the sound and music that goes with it.
Last year Go2 Productions created a 10-storey 3D animated outdoor projection show on the Boeing Pavilion at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
DIGIBC: Go2 has been working in this space for a while now. Where do you see the future of interactive and immersive real world experiences like this headed?
ADRIAN: Go2 has to be very agile and reactive in the experiential world. Where were going is more of an interactive collaboration. We’ve gone from producing animated pieces to combining art and technology to create some truly unique experiences.
Over the last 6 years we’ve gone from creating massive building projections to using newer technologies that make what we do more interactive. We’re creating sound installations, movement based installations, installations that adapt and are influenced by the visitors.
Also, over the last year we’ve sent up an in-house development department. Now we build our own systems, develop our own systems, so we can create our own assets and use the data to make a more interactive experience.
What we’re trying to do is move more into an interactive entertainment realm, where the show and experience is everything. That’s gotten a little lost in recent years. It needs to be more about the experience, and wanting people to go back and re-experience it again. The tech coming out now is really making it an exciting time in that space.
DIGIBC:What is some of that new tech that you’re seeing?
ADRIAN: With the speed the technology is changing right now, there are so many avenues where it could do. It’s really a case of being able to adapt on the fly, and take new technologies and integrating it into what we do.
For example, the OLED screens are looking really great. That allows us to turn any surface into a video screen the size of a sheet of paper. Suddenly you don’t need projectors.
There’s also a company in Japan called Aerial Burton that has some amazing new ideas on technology. They have developed a way that ionizes air particles that then creates the effect of pixels in the air. It’s primitive right now but I see the potential in five years and how full color, full motion images can be delivered that would truly be holographic, creating images in 3D space in real life.
For Southwest Airlines, Go2 created a projection map against an indoors wall, giving spectators an impressive visual experience.
DIGIBC: Over the years Go2 has created projection displays for the Vancouver Canucks, the walk-in 4D Portal that was at this year’s BC Tech Summit, and other immersive or animated displays. Is there a typical sort of client that comes to Go2, or a variety?
ADRIAN: We’re the people that companies go to when they want something amazing. If they want to pull something off that’s not been done before, to be memorable, that’s us. It’s all wrapped up in art and design to create an amazing experience.
I think that there’s a big interest in creating activations like MIRAGE. For something so big and impressive, I think that it would surprise people to know how easy it is to run. It shuts down automatically, starts automatically, takes pictures and uploads them automatically. It literally takes just one person to operate MIRAGE. One person pushes a green button and off it goes.
One new area that I can talk a little about is creating on camera visual effects for film productions. This is when a movie production needs or wants to have an effect happen on the set and be experienced by the actors. The work could be done in post digitally by visual effects but there’s an added benefit by doing it on the day the scene is shot. That seems to be a growing industry for us.
If you want to see more about the visual and immersive creations that Go2 Productions has made for Hyundai, Jimmy Kimmel Live, the Vancouver Canucks, Sports Illustrated and more brands, check out their portfolio.
You can check out MIRAGE at Metropolis until September 7. The installation is open seven days a week, from 12pm to 7pm.
As well, there is a $1,000 prize being given away as a promotion. Visit MIRAGE and share a photo or video to your followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat for a chance to win a weekly gift card or the grand prize of a $1,000 shopping spree. Tag your photo #METMIRAGE and use @MetropolisatMet to enter the contest.
Augmented reality is leaping to the top of the public's consciousness in a big way. Look no further than the huge success of Pokemon Go and how it's rapidly become a six-o-clock news story in less than one week from its' launch.
Microsoft's entry into the augmented reality (AR) space is the HoloLens, a compact headset that allows its' user to manipulate items as if they existed side-by-side with real world objects.
One of the first agency partners to work with the HoloLens is Coquitlam-based Finger Food Studios. After making a name for themselves as a video games content and solutions provider, Finger Food is now developing custom solutions for some of the world's biggest brands. At DigiBC's recent Made in BC event, Finger Food reps showed off some of the amazing creations they have been working on in AR.
Students from Victoria & Vancouver got to try out Microsoft's HoloLens and the AR creations of Finger Food Studios.
Ryan Peterson (left), the CEO of Finger Food Studios, at DigiBC's Made in BC Victoria event. Llama Zoo's Charles Lavigne is wearing the HoloLens.
Finger Food's office manager Samantha Sayer shows a student how to manipulate augmented reality tech.
Furthermore, last month Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Vancouver's Microsoft Center for Excellence to try on the HoloLens himself and experience what living inside augmented reality is like.
Now Microsoft's official HoloLens YouTube channel has released a new video showing the work of the first crop of HoloLens developers -- and Finger Food Studios gets some on air time. Starting at 0:51, check out how FFS has made it possible for people to customize semi-truck rigs with the swipe of their fingers for truck manufacturer Paccar:
There is undoubtedly more cool, cutting-edge AR work being developed by Finger Food Studios. Keep your eyes and ears open, because I'm certain that you'll hear about it soon.
Congrats to the Ryan Peterson and his Finger Food Studio team for showing another example of a BC-based tech company raising the bar.
Last Friday I had the opportunity to speak about the provincial government's announcement for $6 million dollars to help BC students learn to code, bring in new computers and resources to classrooms and train teachers to teach programming in classrooms. The announcement was made by Premier Christy Clark at Taylor Park Elementary School in Burnaby, with Minister of Education Mike Bernier in attendance. At Taylor Park there is already a coding class, with robotics and 3D printing being used by the students, and they want to learn more.
With this announcement the province is taking an important step forward to open doors of opportunity for all BC students. Technology is now an integrated part of modern society. The more that young minds can be exposed to all applications of technology, from coding a computer to understanding how digital functionality helps us make the world a better place, the wider the possibilities are for their future careers.
BC needs more people working in technology, and making new companies that will become tomorrow's tech superstars. Yes, coding can create those bright entrepreneurs that could go on to make the next Facebook or Microsoft, but there's an important part of learning to code that sometimes get overlooked.
Critical Thinking is for Everyone
(Left: Minister of Education Mike Bernier watches a coding demo from a Taylor Park student.)
Discovering how you can "teach" a machine to do tasks with a robot, or in a video game, builds critical thinking skills. These skills are essential if one goes down a career path as a computer engineer or some sort, but even if that individual does not pursue a job in technology, the mind skills learned by way of coding pays off in several ways.
No one doubts that critical thinking allows a person to be more subjective about decision points in one's life. From thinking about how to successfully plan for one's retirement to choosing where your children should go during summer vacation, critical thinking development provides mechanisms that train your brain to solve difficult problems successfully. That's something I believe should be instilled into the next generation of our society because it will benefit the individual and society as a whole.
Where We Go Next
While announcing the $6 million in funding, Premier Clark mentioned that BC needs more tech savvy young people working in digital visual effects or creating video games. While these are both tech industries that are at the heart of the digital creative industries that DigiBC represents, these tech skills are easily be transported to other industries.
For example, BC's traditional business sectors like foresty, mining and tourism can all benefit from technological advancements in software, hardware and data analysis. The skills acquired being a community manager or data analyst at a video gaming company like Electronic Arts or Capcom can be transposed to a tech business ike Hootsuite, Build Direct or Elastic Path, or a life sciences / ICT / mobile startup. These are just a couple of examples that can be replicated ten thousand-fold, and spillover into BC's broad tech sector and beyond.
We're just at the start of figuring out how to best implement a province wide tech and coding strategy for education, but in many ways BC already has a head start. DigiBC member companies like EA Vancouver, Finger Food Studios, Roadhouse Interactive and Codename Entertainment have already dipped their feet into this area, helping their local schools and students discover how to learn to code (like our recent "Made in BC" event showed.) Our organization and member companies are eager to do more work with all students and educational disctricts across the province. Let's build on this $6 million investment in coding education to propel British Columbia into the 2020s and beyond.