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  • 24 Jul 2019 by DigiBC

    DigiBC hosted a video game leadership dinner on June 18th at Blue Water Café. Sponsored by PWC, the event was an opportunity to have some direct conversation about the state of the industry and what we, as the most significant stakeholders, can do to improve our business environments. In attendance were more than 20 studios, employing 5,000+ employees. In order to set the tone for the discussion and ensure our time together was well utilized, DigiBC sent out a pre-dinner survey to industry CEOs. The results were quite consistent and showed that while the industry has some serious concerns, overall, we remain somewhat optimistic as to the future of video game creation in British Columbia.



    Studio heads were also asked to rank the challenges they are facing in the industry in B.C. Not surprisingly, low tax incentives relative to other Canadian jurisdictions was the primary challenge, followed by access to talent and rising business and infra-structure costs in B.C. Regional development, retaining IP in B.C., and bridge financing were also of concern.



    Lastly, studio heads were asked to share what gave B.C. a competitive advantage, if we do in fact have a competitive advantage.

    • A long-established gaming industry
    • Where we live is where people vacation, people want to move here.
    • There is some legacy/critical mass here for games in particular, but we have squandered that a bit. With the cost of living and relatively low wages, it is now difficult to say that there is a competitive advantage for BC.
    • It is a wonderful place to live, (both Canada and the West Coast).
    • Weak currency. Strong talent pool.
    • Regional appeal and talent pool.
    • The existing talent pool
    • Attractive to international candidates - livable city, health care, etc. Reputation for having best in class existing talent and a good deal of choice of studios/Corp cultures for incoming talent.
    • Having a video game 'micro-climate' with a track record of success and a 'big gorilla' in Electronic Arts, which brings talent into the Province.
    • Canada has a great brand around the world for fairness and creativity. This is a great place to do business, and BC is the best place for basing international partnerships. I'm not sure we hold competitive advantages like we once did, our presence in the games industry is slipping. If we formed a strong "entertainment" industry focus that integrated games, animation, VFX... then we would have a unique position of talent, training, and creativity. We sell ourselves as a "creative" shop... this has been our competitive advantage.
    • Attractive place to live, beautiful & safe reputation, access to western seaboard & Asian gateway.
    • We have a strong talent pool from decades of video game success.
    • Canada and calm climate


    Additionally, we asked what competitive advantage we would like to have in B.C.

    • Incentive to grow being priority 1.
    • Better cost of living ratio for staff. Our people are paid well nationally, but housing and childcare create large economic burdens.
    • Cost of living and tax advantages


    The final question asked if there was anything studios wanted to share that was not yet asked. Two strong answers from this question that got discussed further in the dialogue were:

    “Any inbound investment to Canada would, on purely economic reasons NOT invest in B.C. This is crazy and ought to be remedied to make us the playing field level. Also, access to capital for game companies is a real issue. There are not many providers in the market who play in this space.”

    “We have an amazing opportunity in a growing international industry... yet on our current trend we will see fewer people working in our industry in BC in 2020 than in 2019. We do not have an internationally competitive agenda... as a local industry we are not growing fast enough, others are taking our place. Not one international industry event here for gaming, non-competitive incentive infrastructure for business, lack of marketing talent, limited capital sources. As players in this industry, we need to benchmark ourselves against the best in the world, and this is what I don't see prevalent in our BC industry right now.”


    All in all, a great evening (thank you PWC and Ian Heine), and DigiBC now has its work cut out! The information shared at this event will help guide our government relations work going forward to the next B.C. budget.

  • 19 Jul 2019 by DigiBC

    About BTG Forums

    BridgingTheGap™ Forums are curated events that connect emerging young talent with influential executives and impact investors to build their careers and solve community challenges. They believe in empowering future talent and businesses to thrive in the changing marketplace. BTG works to equip emerging talent for success by forging positive community relationships and opportunities to develop lifelong learning skills. Together, they can harness the creativity of the next generation to make the world a better place.

    On Wednesday, August 21 they will be in Vancouver to host the following two seminars at the Library Square Conference Centre.


    Future Ready Executive Forum (3:00PM-5:30PM) - REGISTRATION LINK

    • A B2B audience interested in actionable strategies to recruit and retain Millennials and Generation Z talent
    • Participants will be invited to complete a workplace assessment about their current workplace culture and challenges as part of a national research and development project to create BridgingTheGap’s Future-Ready Employer Index—a tool to analyze workplace gaps and opportunities for Canadian businesses to adapt and thrive in the future of work
    • Aimed at business owners, HR and management professionals, innovation firms and local investors with an interest in digital transformation and becoming future-ready as a business


    Youth Innovation Mastermind (6:00PM-9:00PM) - REGISTRATION LINK

    • A mixed audience of executive mentors and emerging young talent aged 18-35 designed as an innovation mastermind to solicit ideas and solutions for the Government of Canada's National Strategy for Sustainable Development
    • Participants will receive access to MyEffect, a mobile app and online platform that unites people with partners—nonprofits, brands, and influencers—to take action for a shared cause and tracks everyone’s impact, skill development and experiences
    • Aimed at young talent interested in building their career and/or young entrepreneurs looking to scale their ventures (a portion of which will be from underserved groups like young women entrepreneurs and other minority groups in innovation)


  • 12 Jul 2019 by DigiBC

    A Thinking Ape's co-founders, Wilkins Chung and Kenshi Arasaki, were working as engineers for Amazon before deciding to break out on their own. In 2008, they secured funding through Silicon Valley’s YCombinator for a multi-source chat engine dubbed, Chatterous. Noticing that chat groups were forming in the engine around social web games, they decided to create their first game on top of the platform. This would be a proof-of-concept that they could bring to other mobile gaming companies. Kingdoms at War was never meant to be a success but it was profitable within a few months of launch. The game is still going nine years later, and much of this is due to the communities that have built strong relationships through the chat feature. After this success, former Facebook developer, Eric Diep, came on board and together they started ATA with a focus on mobile game development while retaining the core principle of building communities. ATA has been profitable every year since it started and the founders have huge plans for future growth.

    ATA is one of the top-grossing developers on the Apple and Google App Stores with four live mobile game titles, Kingdoms of Heckfire, Party in My Dorm, Kingdoms at War and Casino X. The communities within these games are a powerful, hilarious and colourful illustration of their mission. The connections made in-game have been the catalyst for marriages, group vacations, and even precious DNA mixtapes (aka babies).

    ATA is working on a fifth title that’s in the early stages of development and scheduled to launch worldwide in early 2020. The team has taken what they learned from the success of Party in My Dorm and Kingdoms of Heckfire to guide the production of this game, and are currently working with the marketing team to validate their creative concepts. Meanwhile, the Party in My Dorm team has recently launched a secret feature that no one knows about yet. Instead of announcing it, they’ve decided to only tell a few players and see how far it spreads through word of mouth alone. They want players to have the fun of blowing each other’s minds when they show their friends.


    Over the years, ATA has put a lot of focus on cultivating a culture that is supportive of each individual and offers a workplace where everyone can feel free to be their true self. This hard work has recently been recognized as they featured at number five on the 2019 list of Best Workplaces™ in Canada <100 Employees. In 2018, they were awarded a place on the list of Canada's Most Admired Corporate Cultures and Canada's Top Small & Medium Employers. They’ve also been featured as one of Canada’s Best Workplaces™ for Mental Wellness.

    ATA’s core values are: Ownership, Have Wonderful Arguments, Keep Growing and Best Ideas Win. These values help the team create the ideal environment for building ambitious things. It’s a place where brilliant and inspiring people can come together and build games that make millions of players happy. ATA realized that they needed to find incredibly talented people and get out of their way, that’s why they don’t believe in the traditional hierarchy structure. Why would they hire the best people if they’re not going to give them the ownership to make decisions? This is not to say that they don’t have a leadership team, in fact, their leads are integral in creating a supportive work environment where their employees can function at their highest potential. Leads inspire their teams towards new levels of growth and achievement by ensuring the mission and core values inform their leadership style.


    The team at ATA is fascinated by human behaviour and creates games where powerful social communities can grow and thrive. They believe great communities only become stronger when they are set in compelling universes that they’ve created... in other words, original intellectual property or IP. Their strategy to only build games using original IP, gives them full control over how they grow their communities and allows them to reinvest their profits in new product development and cultivating their team as they continue to scale.


    Fun Fact: Every team at ATA is named after a sea creature, real or mythical. This began with Project Squid, as the founders began exploring different areas of growth for the company (just like a squid’s tentacles reaching out in different directions on the ocean floor). Currently, the five teams are Leviathan, Kraken, Narwhal, Dolphin and Otter.


    ATA is growing and currently looking to fill the following roles: 3D Marketing Generalist, 2D Game Artist, Senior 2D Game Artist and Software Engineering Lead. They would love to chat with people who share their values, believe in building communities, and can add to their awesome culture. Check out their Careers page for further info and to apply.