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    On Wednesday May 4, 2016, DigiBC held a one-day free event at the Victoria Convention Centre. Made In BC was designed to showcase 10 innovative video game companies from British Columbia, and how they are trailblazing to create great products and...

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    On Wednesday May 4, 2016, DigiBC held a one-day free event at the Victoria Convention Centre. Made In BC was designed to showcase 10 innovative video game companies from British Columbia, and how they are trailblazing to create great products and inspire the next generation of tech workers.

    Comprising small start-ups to well-established international games studios, the ten B.C. companies consisted of Electronic Arts Vancouver, Cloudhead Games, Codename Entertainment, Disruptive Media Publishers, East Side Games, Finger Food Studios, Kerberos Productions, Klei Entertainment, Llama Zoo and Roadhouse Interactive. Products featured included upcoming new releases on mobile platforms, desktop computers, virtual reality headsets and the Microsoft augmented reality HoloLens headset.

    In addition to the ten companies on display, DigiBC created a makeshift classroom for nearly 40 grade school students from Vancouver and Victoria schools. The children, between the ages of 9 to 12, were instructed by UME Academy on how to code and create their own video game.

    Finger Food Studios also donated a portion of their time to show kids how to code using Hasbro's Sphero app-enabled robotic orb. The studio built the interface app between Sphero and a mobile/tablet device used to control it. As well, Finger Food Studios has worked with the Coquitlam school district on creating a coding curriculum for middle-grade students using Spheros.

    Students learning coding using Sphero at Made In BC.


    During the afternoon portion of Made In BC, visitors to the classroom included British Columbia's Minister of Education Mike Bernier, as well as Minister of Technology Amrik Virk.


    Minister of Education Mike Bernier picks up some coding skills from his teacher.



    Minister of Technology Amrik Virk at "Made In BC"'s coding classroom.


    In the evening an invitation only portion of the event was held. Numerous Ministers and MLAs from BC's provincial government were in attendance including Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Shirley Bond.

    DigiBC graciously thanks the support of Made In BC's sponsors, Electronic Arts Vancouver, Finger Food Studios & Roadhouse Interactive, and the support of educators, parents and studio employees for making this event possible. Our intention is to do another similar event in Vancouver this fall.

    View 150 photos from Made In BC below.


  • Article

    Note: Thank you to Village Gamer for the live Twitter...

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    Note: Thank you to Village Gamer for the live Twitter coverage during Tuesday's event and for writing this fantastic article. To see the original article:

    As those of you who follow us on Twitter will be well aware, DigiBC hosted a town hall meeting Tuesday night for the BC game development community. It was encouraging to see such an excellent turnout for the event, and kudos to Whitney and Carly for putting the event together. The evening featured a panel of local creative devs with Lance Davis taking on the role of moderator. Opening remarks for the evening were presented by Rick Griffiths, Audit and Assurance Group partner with PwC. I will touch on only a few of the highlights from the evening, simply because the conversation moved quite quickly and because we did tape the event. The video should be available later today on our YouTube channel, and I have pulled many of the tweets into a board on Storify. I will send out a tweet and post on our Facebook page once the video is live. If you are reading this, then I’ve hit the Publish button – otherwise I will continue to add thoughts and edits endlessly, because there is so much to say and so much to do in regards to BC’s industry. A disclaimer to get out of the way first and foremost: I know I digress often – that is how my thought patterns work. As I said to Scott while writing this missive, people who know me know that this is how I write – I can be writing along with one thought, when I get a shiny new thought flashing through – but the message contained within does not change – we all need each other if we want to see the development community in BC grow and survive – and the same could be said for the national industry. It is not my intention to offend anyone or point fingers at any person specifically. It is my intention to get you all talking and thinking about what transpired at the meeting on Tuesday night, because I fully intend to do what I can to keep BC’s creative industry sector working and successful. How about you?

    Lance Davis and Rick Griffiths opened the evening by providing a base for the night’s topic with some background numbers and statistics in regards to global internet usage as it pertains to wireless, wired and console access as well as how the video game industry compares to others in this province. Rick also provided a brief comparison of BC, Ontario and Quebec in regards to product, talent and studios. I feel that this was a good way to begin the dialogue, as it shows to many who may not have been aware just how those numbers have, do and can play a very important part in showing where we’ve been, where we are now, and where we can go. Again – once the video is uploaded (it was supposed to upload overnight but the upload failed for some reason known only unto YouTube) you will all be able to listen to what everyone had to say.

    Before I continue, I do want to note who was on the panel and them for their participation, as well as thank the evening’s sponsors: Vancouver Economic Commission and Microsoft Studios.

    The Panel:

    • Wil Mozell, Microsoft Studios
    • John Lutz, Electronic Arts
    • Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch, Silicon Sisters Interactive
    • Matt Toner, Zeros 2 Heros Media
    • Kenny Huang, Blue Bat Games
    • Julian Ing, Eruptive Games
    • Moderator: Lance Davis, Slant Six Games

    When I first launched Village Gamer back in 2008, I had already been holding many conversations with whomever would listen about how I, as a veritable outsider, saw the video game development industry in this province, and I identified a few key points. My main frustration at that time was that I felt very few were listening, and I believe that I am not the only one with such memories of trying to deal with what is still perceived as “the old guys’ club” that is the game development industry, and indeed, some of our trade-related associations fall into that trap as well. Last evening, for really the first time, I felt a weird vindication – like someone had been listening, and now the light has gone on – and the dialogue has started on what BC’s developers need to do to move forward – and I say BC’s developers because we all need to remember that not all of the province’s studios in Vancouver. Believe it or not, there is a world outside of the big city.

    Getting back to what I saw from local industry – everyone was busy doing what they did best – creating properties that engaged and entertained the gaming masses, but doing it alone, in their private silos, only coming together to bemoan the state of the market or the latest downturn. There was very little unity and very little interaction with the end user – the people who provided the sales dollars to fund current and future projects. Since that time, we have seen sectors of the game development industry begin to get together to share experiences and help each other – groups like Full Indie and Vancouver Social Games are flourishing, but there is still such a very long way to go. One of my main observations has been the difference between the development cultures in Vancouver and Toronto, which is another point I have raised repeatedly. Vancouver’s development community has grown up in the Triple A sector, one whose mantra has often been “thou shalt not discuss anything with anyone at any time.” Meanwhile on the other side of the country, Toronto’s development community has grown up Indie, only recently dipping its toes into the world of Triple A foreign-owned big house development. Those indie developers learned early on that inter-house co-operation and collaboration provided their best chances at survival.

    Then we have the trade associations. New Media BC warped into a merger with BC Wireless, and it was pretty well downhill from there for a few years. With the changing of the guard at DigiBC and with the addition of the BC Interactive Task Force, perhaps there is some hope. Whitney and Carly definitely have their work cut out for them trying to improve DigiBC’s brand – and it may in fact be time for another complete rebranding. Much damage has been done in the short time that New Media BC ceased to exist, but to be fair, I think that people need to put the past in the past and be willing to work with the association to move forward. Communication will be key.

    Unfortunately, DigiBC is not the only association with problems. Our local SIGGRAPH chapter – for all of the great events it brings, and the hard work that was done in winning the SIGGRAPH expo for the city – is very much a closed group. Our IGDA chapter also has challenges – mostly people power and organization – not for lack of trying – the attempt at reviving IGDA Vancouver is ongoing. There are all of these splinter groups that should be working together; granted, each association has its own bylaws and fees, but there is no reason why they cannot all sit at the same table and be all-inclusive to those in industry who want to join and become pro-active – and who do not necessarily live in Vancouver, Metro Vancouver or even the Lower Mainland. There needs to be transparency in all of our associations if they want people to join and become involved again – do not treat your members like lemmings and mushrooms.

    As per the usual cycle, the recent downturns in BC’s industry has seen an influx of smaller indie houses popping up, and while the meetup groups have opened the doors to communication, it is a challenge for years of ingrained “you shall not discuss” mentalities to wash away overnight, and this is where the biggest challenge rests, followed closely by industry association support, government interest and startup funding opportunities. While there has been some positive industry press coverage from outlets such as the Vancouver Sun and the Georgia Straight, not many of the buying public really understand what game development is all about because they don’t watch shows like Electric Playground or Reviews On The Run. They don’t read sites like ours or Canadian Online Gamers or TechVibes. They see the press coverage about studio closings and controversial game content. They see the coverage whenever there is a crime committed somewhere in the world and immediately people want to know if the playing of violent video games had a hand in it, but how many really know about the contribution our game developers have made, and still make, to the global culture and the tech world at large?

    These are some of the areas that were poked at last evening, with many excellent suggestions made, issues identified and a feeling that maybe now the BC industry can unite itself and work with its industry association on becoming the force it is meant to be (watch the video for full conversations). Going back to my mention of the “old guys’ club” – we cannot ignore the values and experiences the city’s development industry has gained from the legacy studios – the ones who put the Triple A stamp on Vancouver all those many years ago when the game industry was but a dot on the economic map. Without their pioneering the way and building the industry outwards with each cycle of lay-offs and downsizing, we wouldn’t have the foundation that we do today – it is an unfortunate reality that the majority of the legacy studios are no longer locally owned, and as was pointed out at the opening of the Town Hall, there exists a very real “build a company and sell it” mentality that should be looked at more closely.

    As Victor Lucas pointed out last night, our developers should be damned proud of what they do and the contributions they make to society, but you all need to learn to speak up and be heard – be heard by the government, the investors, the educators, the buying public and those who dismiss you as nothing more than toy makers. I know different. Victor knows different – many of your local media personnel know different – but how easy do you make it for us to talk about you and what you do? Certainly there needs to be that barrier of confidentiality as you work on proprietary IP projects, but if we industry insiders don’t know what you’ve done or what you’re doing, how do you expect anyone else to know and understand? You need to speak to the public more often than to build hype for an upcoming release. How interactive are you with your end users? Do you use social media to your advantage? What is your product support like? We have a project that has been in development for over a year that will help you achieve some of the above, but we need serious web coding help we can’t afford, so we are slowly working out the problems on our own. We’re only one year behind schedule. Maybe we’ll be ready next year. We are not in a position to incorporate, thereby being able to apply for Canada Media Fund programs, and we can’t afford the project rates offered by the Centre for Digital Media or BCIT, so we muddle along as best we can – the same as many of you.

    Speaking of affordability and growth, there was extensive talk during the town hall about the benefits and pitfalls of tax credits – the fact that they are there (or not there), the fact that one size does not fit all, their merit and their hindrance. Some tax credits work, some do not. Some feel that they need to be bigger, some do not. I personally feel that the best mix may be a combination of startup programs from all levels – within industry itself, within the investment community, government and the public. We are a creative group – why can we not work together to find a creative solution that is scalable and beneficial to many, instead of to the “privileged few” who always seem to be feeding from the trough, for the lack of a better term – and that is not really how I want to phrase the meaning I am trying to convey, but the right words are out in orbit somewhere. More caffeine.

    It will be no easy task to bridge the gap between “The Mother Ship” as many have referred to EA Canada, and the other Triple A houses owned by foreign publishers, and the localized independent community. The same could probably hold true for those independent house developing licensed IP as opposed to proprietary IP – but a bridge must be found and solutions to problems faced by BC’s development community found. When it’s all said and done, I am still a veritable outsider, and I readily admit I do not know about all the ins and outs of the industry, and I certainly cannot keep up on the interchanges going on between industry here, in Toronto, Quebec or elsewhere in Canada. I can only relay what my observations are, and what my take-away from last evening was. There will always be regional interests at the heart of the matter, but we have to unite not only our local communities, we have to unite as a country.

    One of my marketing mantras when promoting the Canadian digital media industry sectors is that I would love to see the outside world outsourcing to Canada. I would love to see our own industry outsourcing to itself whenever the need arises. I have, at times, been criticized for having a site named Village Gamer when it’s not just about games. It did start out that way, but I got so frustrated trying to source out news to post every day that I branched out – and looking back, it was the right thing for me to do because now if you are reading this site correctly and making use of the information I share, you will sit back and say “wow, I didn’t know there was a Canadian company doing that” or “gee, that was made in Canada?” – why ARE you contracting with outside companies when we usually have the resources right here at home?  Are you doing your part to support your own community as both a business and a consumer? Yes, I will admit, I am a “buy local” kind of person. Very few of the games I play are developed outside of our borders, and the one MMO-RPG PC game I do play was developed in Seattle, and Canadians are employed by that particular studio. In case you didn’t know – I am a core console gamer first, followed by handheld, followed by mobile, followed by PC.

    So, going back to the original thought I started a few minutes ago – what will happen if and when the possibilities and realities of tax credits, grants and subsidies goes away? Will this industry be able to stand on its own? It’s a competitive world out there. Have you positioned your company in such a way that your product is a valuable commodity to the buyers of the world? We are experiencing a minor hiccup in BC that could easily turn into a major eruption if this industry does not mature and open its doors to change. You all need to embrace each other – as much for your similarities as for your differences. We need to work with government and financiers not only for the financial and economic challenges we are facing, but also for the talent shortfall so many of you spoke about at the meeting. People are once again leaving BC for other parts. Creative talent is a mobile asset; the government made an announcement today about enhancements to education in regards to trade. Will any of those enhancements apply to education and training in the digital media or technology fields or will it all go to traditional careers in the service, building and resource fields? Are we remembering to work with other creative sectors and associations? Game development is not the only industry in this town. As digital entertainment and interactivity melds and molds itself into a transmedia sector, it is probably a good idea to have a few friends in those other sectors. Just sayin’.

    The previously-posed questions I asked in the above paragraph opens the door to another point – if the legacy studios in Vancouver gave us the talent and training to move onward in the indie world, what is the indie world going to leave as its legacy? You have so much to offer – not just to the end user, but to the future generations of creatively technical minds. This goes beyond working with the post secondary schools – this goes to our high schools and even our elementary schools. What can industry do to catch those young people before our industrial revolution style of education drains the creativity out of them? Are you taking opportunities to participate in school events? Are you talking to government about the need for more diversity in the career programs offered at our schools – one program that is a huge success is the Digital Media Academy at Argyle Secondary in North Vancouver. Every single secondary in the province should have this style of program available. Not every student is cut out for a traditional career, so why are we only offering those types of programs? Has there been any kind of dialogue begun with the Education Ministry? Are there programs in place in our post-secondary schools to teach the teachers of future generations – are we giving those who aspire to teach the tools they need to keep up with a rapidly changing world and to inspire the talent currently working its way through kindergarten and the primary grades? What are we doing in the here and now to prepare our kids for the knowledge and creative-based careers that are available to them?

    We have to find a way to make this community accessible to one and all – and I am speaking about the industry beyond the borders of downtown Vancouver. Be inclusive – there are great things going on around this province. There are programs in other regions that work. Not everyone can make it to downtown Vancouver for an 8 a.m. seminar. Not everyone can make it to downtown Vancouver for an afternoon or evening event, either. Not everyone can afford to attend conferences and seminars or join a trade association or special interest group or go on trade missions in foreign countries. The barriers to entry in regards to product and market may be lower than it used to be, but what are the barriers to involvement? The key to this province’s success is going to be in unity and inclusion for the whole province, not just those in the downtown core. It is going to be in all of the associations and programs working together whenever possible, in the pooling of resources, in the making light of a huge task with the help of many hands through communication and organization.

    The development industry needs to stop hiding and wringing its hands. I have seen what the people in this industry can accomplish when they come together, and no one can convey what is needed with the proper insights better than those of you who work in the industry. I can observe, I can hold conversations, I can promote what you do, but I cannot speak to the every day inner workings of what you need to grow and thrive. BC has so much potential to be on top as a creative hub – you used to be number one, and you can be again. Do not let the momentum of Tuesday night’s conversation go silent. It is not going to be easy. It is not going to happen overnight or even over a fortnight. It is going to take effort, it is going to take co-operation and the leaving of egos at the door. It is going to take changing your ways – to become outspoken extroverts who have every right to shout to the world that you are here (insert Horton Hears A Who scene here) and that you matter. You matter to the economy, you matter to the entertainment world, and you matter to the global community. Now what are you going to do about it?

     September 20, 2012
  • Article

    Vancouver, 14th March 2016 -- Forward Human Capital Solutions has hired Industrial Light & Magic’s former Senior Recruiter, Cassandra Nelson as Human Capital Manager, responsible for senior management retained search and...

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    Vancouver, 14th March 2016 -- Forward Human Capital Solutions has hired Industrial Light & Magic’s former Senior Recruiter, Cassandra Nelson as Human Capital Manager, responsible for senior management retained search and leadership coaching for international VFX, VR and games clients.


    Caroline Stokes, founder of FORWARD Human Capital Solutions said, “VR and VFX were made for each other. ILM is at GDC this week talking about their VR endeavours, so bringing on board an expert VFX recruiter who is aligned with our unique culture is like finding a golden needle in a haystack and a very natural development for our entertainment technology human capital solutions company.” 


    Stokes continued, “We are truly delighted to have Cassandra on board to drive new initiatives with VFX, VR and games clients.”


    Cassandra Nelson, Human Capital Manager commented, “It’s rare to work with a talent acquisition and leadership development company that genuinely has a client, technology and coach-centric approach to working with all stakeholders and talent.  I’m looking forward to building our clients business with meaningful search and coaching solutions.”


    Cassandra’s background in VFX includes ILM, MPC and Prime Focus, and has built teams internationally and locally in the Vancouver market for productions such as Star Wars Episode VII, Warcraft, Jurassic World, Transformers 4, Captain America 2: The Winter Solder, Sin City, Life of Pi, Sherlock Holmes 2, Godzilla and many others.


    FORWARD will be at GDC and VRDC this coming week meeting clients and talent to help move their vision forward.


    For further information: //


    Based in Vancouver, BC: FORWARD Human Capital Solutions is a retained search and leadership development company based in Vancouver, serving digital entertainment, mobile and technology clients internationally.  Previous clients include: Microsoft, Sony, Nokia, Electronic Arts, Disney, Spin Master Studios, Autodesk, VMC, RealNetworks across retained search, first 90 days coaching or executive coaching engagements.

     March 15, 2016
  • Article

    We are in the midst of a global digital revolution, and one sector of digital media that is particularly hot is Mobile Social Games. New companies you have never heard of before are growing...

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    We are in the midst of a global digital revolution, and one sector of digital media that is particularly hot is Mobile Social Games. New companies you have never heard of before are growing into billion dollar businesses, looking for global expansion and generating new opportunities for British Columbia. This sector started in Asia but is now very fertile and active in North America and the rest of the world.

    What is causing all this golden era in social mobile? There are several factors but most prominently rapid growth in smart phones and tablets, advent of new app stores, increasing broadband penetration, preference for digital distribution and success of new social networks like Facebook. Global smart phones and tablet device sales are projected to grow 3X by 2015 while mobile app dollar sales are expected to grow 5X to $35 billion by 2015. Online and mobile game sales are forecasted to grow 15% and 11% per year, respectively, over the next five years. In addition, playing games are the highest use for smart phones at over 60%.

    Will traditional console video games die and be replaced by social and mobile games? Many think so but it is not likely in the next several years. However, social and mobile is definitely growing at a significantly faster pace and will rival console games. Today console games are still a larger market worldwide.

    We all know the largest device players in this market including Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft, but you probably do not know some of these up and coming companies in mobile and social games. Most of these companies are expanding globally and BC should benefit.

    • Zinga – largest player in US for social games primarily on Facebook. Over a $1 billion in revenue, over 200 million active users and a valuation that rivals EA.
    • GREE – Japan’s fastest growing tech company focused on social games with 140 million users, revenues approaching $1.8 billion, highly profitable and a valuation higher than Zinga.
    • DeNA – Another successful large Japanese games company with a large social games network with revenue well over $1 billion, growing rapidly and highly profitable.
    • Tencent – China’s largest online community and games provider with over 600 million users.
    • Woogo – Europe’s largest social games developer with over 30 million active users.
    • Rovio – Europe’s very successful developer of Angry Birds.
    • CrowdStar – Another California social games developer of Facebook games with over 30 million users.
    • EA – A US based traditional global games company you already know that has transformed its operations from mainly console games to mobile and social with great success. EA is now dominating the top charts for mobile games and recently released SIMS Social, a Facebook  game, which soared quickly to the top.

    How do these companies make money especially since most games are free? Gamification and monetization strategies are used to develop fun casual experiences that engage users, influence behavior and build community through rewards, challenges, leader boards and status recognition. There are an estimated 29 different models to monetize such experiences through freemium, premium, subscription, app fees, ads and a combination of these and other models. In Japan, the sales rate per monthly average user is $4 to $5 which is higher than in North America where it averages $1. The expectation is for this rate will increase in North America over the next five years.

    In BC, we are already experiencing growth from this new sector.  With its experienced talent pool in digital media, attractive location on the West Coast and strong connections to Asia, BC is attracting new investments and creating new jobs. The companies listed below are concentrating their efforts in social and mobile games and currently growing.

    • Club Penguin is the largest social network for kids with over 30 million active users and is owned by Disney. The company is located in Kelowna and growing.
    • Gamehouse which is a large games division of Real Networks located in Seattle has invested in social games studio Backstage Games in Victoria and currently expanding its investment in this studio.
    • Microsoft recently announced a new studio in Victoria which will develop new social games.
    • AirG is a Vancouver based company with a global mobile games network of 55 million users.
    • A Thinking Ape escaped from Silicon Valley in search of talent and landed in Vancouver producing a top rated and paid iphone game called Kingdoms at War.
    • Koolhaus Games has been developing top rated mobile games for several years and is highly sought after by large social mobile companies.
    • Loud Crow is a new Vancouver company that has produced several highly rated interactive mobile books that were featured on iphone and ipad. A very tough distinction to achieve in this competitive market.
    • Finger Food Studios is an up and coming Vancouver based mobile games developer with lots of potential.
    • Many others are operating in this space in B.C.

    Social and mobile games development holds great promise for British Columbia. This sector is expected to continue to grow at significantly above average rates creating new high paying jobs and investment.

    By Howard DonaldsonDigiBC.
    Howard can be contacted at

     September 26, 2012
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    Article from: Sept 21, 2012

    On a recent trip to Europe, Brad Duguid, Ontario’s minister of economic development and innovation, made a point of stopping in at the headquarters of Ubisoft. The French video-gaming giant, responsible for such titles as Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia, opened a Toronto studio in 2010. Duguid wanted to make sure the company’s executives were still happy with that choice. “We had a fantastic meeting with them,” Duguid says. “What they’re really impressed with is the talent that’s evolved here.”

    The talent and, Duguid might have added, the tax breaks too. Ontario offered Ubisoft some $263 million in incentives over 10 years to set up shop in Ontario, according to the Toronto Star. The company also benefits from a 37% labour tax credit available to all video-game developers in the province.

    It’s the kind of package studios in B.C. can only dream of. Though long considered the heart of the Canadian gaming industry, Vancouver has been slipping fast in recent years. Montreal surpassed it in terms of total companies and jobs some time ago. Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe is coming on fast. The reasons, critics say, are simple: Ontario and Quebec are offering better tax incentives—B.C.’s labour tax credit for the industry is only 17%, for example—and their politicians are making efforts (like meeting with French CEOs in the summertime) that B.C. officials just aren’t. Sky-high commercial rents in Vancouver aren’t helping, either.

    There’s plenty of evidence that Canada’s gaming industry is fleeing the West for greener pastures. Ubisoft closed its Vancouver studio early this year, not long after the one in Toronto got off the ground. Rockstar Games, another major developer, announced it was shuttering its Vancouver operations in July. The company is consolidating Canadian development in Oakville, Ont. Radical Entertainment, meanwhile, one of the cornerstones of the Vancouver industry, all but ceased to exist in June when its parent company laid off 89 Vancouver employees. Things are so dire, says Jared Shaw, the founder of 31337 Recruiters, that he hasn’t filled a single video-game position in B.C. in nearly three years. “My job,” he says, “has been exporting people to the U.S. and out east.”

    But not everyone believes that B.C. gaming is on the brink of death. The industry as a whole is shifting away from consoles, like Microsoft’s XBox and the Sony PlayStation, and toward social and mobile platforms, like the iPad and Facebook. As it does, traditional companies like Rockstar and Radical may struggle. But Vancouver, with its deep wells of talent and proximity to Asia and Silicon Valley, could still compete for the next generation of firms.

    There’s some evidence that’s already happening. Gree, a big-name Japanese mobile developer, started hiring staff for a Vancouver studio in July. Local startups, meanwhile, are popping up every month. Many are staffed with at least a few veterans of Vancouver’s once thriving console scene. Almost all are hoping to hit it big with the next social or mobile sensation. “The best thing to ever happen to the Vancouver indie scene is that those big, fat, bloated old bitches left town,” says Jason Bailey, the CEO of East Side Games, a local mobile startup, of the traditional console giants.

    But social and mobile firms aren’t as large or as lucrative as the console players—at least not yet. And without a Rockstar or a Radical to anchor the local industry, some worry the next generation of Vancouver talent will have nowhere to learn its craft. If B.C. wants to keep its status as a gaming hub, says Elliot Siemiatycki, a researcher at the University of British Columbia, the province needs to step up. “Vancouver can’t rely on its mountains and ocean view to attract people,” he says. That doesn’t necessarily mean increasing tax credits, although Siemiatycki does think that would help. It does mean, however, making a visible, viable effort to keep the firms the province has left, while fighting Ontario, Quebec and the rest of the world for the ones still looking for potential homes.

     September 21, 2012
  • Article

    Vancouver will soon host Canada’s first video game-themed restaurant as Brian Vidovic’s 

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    Vancouver will soon host Canada’s first video game-themed restaurant as Brian Vidovic’s EXP Restaurant and Barapproaches its opening day.

    It’s a project that Vidovic has long dreamed of making a reality, and has fought hard to develop in its Pender St. location for the past two years.

    Initial struggles to acquire permits delayed the original opening date of autumn 2011—creating a restaurant and bar of his scale requires permits and licenses that can take many months to acquire. The LCLB has two potential liquor licenses available to new businesses; one, a liquor-primary license, is not being dispensed by the City of Vancouver. The other, a food-primary license, is far more common, and far more in line with the prerogatives of Vidovic’s business.

    It was this license that his business was awarded earlier this week. Once it’s opened, the venue will be host to indie meetups, local gaming events, and countless lovers and supporters of gaming culture.

    The one thing it can’t host is actual video games.

    For the past six months, Vidovic has found himself fighting a skirmish in the war that the Rio Theatre began against the province as he struggles to provide his future clientele with consoles to enjoy on premises.  The LCLB enforces laws that have been mostly unaltered since their creation upon the repeal of prohibition.

    As movie theatres and arcades were at one point the haunts of bootleggers, they were forbidden to provide liquor. Now nearly a century later, Vancouver businesses have begun to speak out against the code as it stands. Vidovic speaks out more stridently than most due to what he claims is unfair treatment. He will open without video games, but he will not give up the pursuit. I asked him if there was any way at all that video games were possible for the EXP Bar in a coffee shop not far from the restaurant’s Pender and Hamilton St location.

    “If I provide consoles, totally not possible. If other people were to bring them in, only not possible on our license, but doable anywhere else in the city,” Vidovic explains. “I asked them if I could set up video games. So what they’re saying is ‘Don’t be honest, ever, and you’ll get what you want.’ And I wanted to be an honest businessman."

    "The fact is that there is no policy specifically for sit-down video games, so they’ve been lumped in with card and board games, where they’re permitted so long as they don’t divert the focus from the food," he adds. "They argue that video games will divert—but it’s not as though they will be diverted towards liquor instead. They’ll just be distracted with their game, which is all I want to provide them with.”

    Vidovic has reached out to MP Jenny Kwan to bring the matter to Minister Rich Coleman’s attention. News has not yet returned from the capital.

    Here in Vancouver the restaurant has been embraced by the gaming community; custom Xbox 360 controllers have been designed by, and their June Indiegogo campaign earned the business over $61,000. There’s a petition here with 4,500 signatures thus far to protest the LCLB video game restrictions.

    “For me, it’s bigger than ‘I want to play videogames,'" says Vidovic. "I want to legitimize our industry as an art form: if you can have movies and tv and UFC up on a screen, then we need to have video games. I’m really stubborn. It’s not something I’m going to drop without a fight.”

    Vidovic speaks for entrepreneurs across the world when he says, “I just want to open my business to the true vision that it should be.”

    However and whenever it opens, gaming Vancouverites have much to look forward to.

     August 14, 2012