Blogs

  • 15 Nov 2018 by DigiBC

    Advocating for fairness with the Canadian Media Fund

    While B.C. makes up about 30% of the video game and interactive digital media (IDM) talent and 29% of the IDM studios, we historically receive significantly less than 30% of the national CMF Experimental Stream fund, averaging only 16% over a seven-year period. Even more concerning is that percentage is in steady decline.

    Multiple issues about the CMF have been raised to DigiBC. These include a perception that the CMF is biased towards the east, CMF staff do not understand the IDM sector, and that applying is not worth the effort due to the high rejection rate of BC-based companies.

    The IDM sector in B.C. deserves better and DigiBC is currently finalizing a report which is going out to the CMF, government, and industry. This report draws on analytics from the CMF’s own data showing that B.C. is significantly underserved by this so-called “national fund”. We are calling for change.


    Do you have a CMF experience you would like to share with us (positive or negative)? Please write to brenda@digibc.org.

     

     

    Government Relations in October 2018

                 Photo credit: Colin Mcrae

    DigiBC is working diligently to move our IDMTC recommendations forward prior to the 2019 Budget. In addition to this, DigiBC is working with federal government partners on issues of relevance for our members.

    Executive Director, Brenda Bailey, was able to tour EA Vancouver with the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism. Originally from Argentina, Minister Rodriguez was delighted to meet some of the FIFA team, gain insight by witnessing the gameplay team in action and attend a FIFA 2020 mocap session. It is important for the Minister of Heritage to understand the value the IDM sector brings to Canada, not only from a culture and heritage perspective but also because the Canada Media Fund (CMF) falls under his portfolio.

     

     

     

     

     

  • 15 Nov 2018 by DigiBC

                           Photo credit: Nik West 
     

    DigiBC would like to thank Eric Jordan, CEO of Codename Entertainment in Victoria for his many years of service as leader of our Interactive Digital Media Group (colloquially the 'Games Group'). Eric remains on our Board of Directors but passes the baton to Peter Greenwood, CFO of Blackbird Interactive.

    A huge thank you to Eric for all his wisdom, leadership, industry and government connections, and ability to perceive a trouble spot before it happened. We’re delighted that Codename has become even more demanding on Eric's time - surely a sign of success! Check out their Dungeons and Dragon’s game, Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realm, on iTunes, Google Play, and Steam.

     

     

     

     


     

      

  • 14 Nov 2018 by DigiBC

    The Irving K Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society announced their Women in Technology and Indigenous Women in Technology scholarship recipients. These awards were given out on November 13 at Government House in Victoria by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Also in attendance was BC's Deputy Minister of Advanced Education, Shannon Baskerville. As part of DigiBC’s dedication to growing the creators of tomorrow, Brenda Bailey participated on the judging panel which chose 10 incredible young women based on their academic achievement and demonstrated commitment to pursuing a career in computer science, engineering, or mathematics. Premier John Horgan announced the scholarships in May 2018 at the #BCTECH Summit to inspire and support more women considering these fields. Labour market forecasts expect more than 82,000 tech-related jobs openings over the next decade for computer programmers, software designers, engineers, and others.

     

    • Emilie Boras from Penticton – UBC – mechanical engineering
    • Alexandra Dean from Nelson – UVic – computer science/math
    • Emma Jackson from North Saanich – UBC – mechanical engineering
    • Natella Jafarova from Victoria – UVic – statistics
    • Giulia Mattia from Burnaby – UBC – computer science
    • Emily Medema from Vernon – UBCO – computer science
    • Angelina Pinchbeck from Kelowna – UBCO – computer science/mathematics
    • Marlie Russell from Williams Lake – UBCO – computer science
    • Jobina Tamminga* from Big Cedar – UBC – computer science
    • Amy Zhu from Vancouver – UBC – computer science

    *Indigenous Women in Technology Scholarship

     

     

    Recipients with Shannon Baskerville, Deputy Minister of Advanced Education,
    and The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia

     

  • 14 Nov 2018 by DigiBC

     

    Did you know that British Columbia has the lowest Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (IDMTC) in the country? DigiBC is in 'full-court press' mode to ensure the government understands the importance of B.C. becoming more competitive with regards to our provincial IDMTC. Click here for our IDMTC document. The recommendations for the 2019 Budget are as follows:
     

    * Increase the IDMTC to 25% across the province
    * Add an additional 10% for studios outside of the Vancouver and Victoria areas

     

    DigiBC hosted a well-attended luncheon for the BC Government caucus in Victoria on October 31st. It was Halloween, so we got into the spirit (along with channeling a bit of the force), and made it an all-out Star Wars themed event. Princess Leia (aka Brenda Bailey) hosted, along with R2-D2 and BB-8 making guest appearances, courtesy of Finger Food Studios. MLAs enjoyed interacting with and gaining exposure to these programmable Sphero droids that are being used to teach kids coding. The lunch was held at the Hotel Grand Pacific, and would not have been complete without Halloween goodie bags. These consisted of 10 Star Wars themed treats that were each tagged with an important video game industry fact. We are always exploring new and interesting ways to get our messages into the hands of those in decision-making roles.

     

     

     

     

  • 14 Nov 2018 by DigiBC

    We recently caught up with The Cube Society's Board Chair, Alan Goldman, to find out what’s been going on at The Cube since it officially opened last October. Alan began his career in radio and television and then moved into documentary production. He’s taught numerous courses on film and television, however, it was after completing his MAA (which focused on stereoscopic 3D and its effect on documentary filmmaking) at Emily Carr when he discovered a keen interest in VR/AR.  Alan is now the Industry Liaison, Research at Emily Carr and is embedded in their Basically Good Media Lab (an experimental space that creates content with AR/VR devices). He is also actively involved with The Cube and chairs a volunteer board whose mission is to make British Columbia a global leader in the field of VR/AR/MR.
     

     

    What is The Cube and why was it created?

    The Cube is a shared studio dedicated to AR/VR companies. It boasts 6,000 square feet of space and was created to support, build and grow Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR) companies in British Columbia. The Cube is an inspiring, purpose-built studio for entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders in AR/VR/MR. It’s located in the heart of Railtown in an 89-year old heritage building and is surrounded by stunning views, industry leaders, and game-changers transforming this industry.


    Who are the key people and companies that were involved in getting it off the ground?

    The Cube was the brainchild of David Gratton who ran a company called Work at Play in the space. David wanted to pivot his business into the nascent AR/VR space and quickly realized that he needed the expertise of others. Additionally, he had the opportunity to visit an AR/VR hub in San Francisco and believed that Vancouver would benefit greatly from having one. David worked tirelessly to make it happen, getting people like Bill Tam the then head of BC Tech to support the initiative. Others like Edo De Martin (Microsoft), Ryan Peterson (Finger Food), Derek Chen (Archiact) and Anthony Brown (AMPD) also were instrumental in its formation. In parallel, I was chairing a group of volunteers which consisted of folks from the industry and academia who were meeting on a monthly basis called BCVR. We also believed that a shared space for companies was paramount for the growth of SME’s. When we heard of David’s initiative, we immediately decided it was in the best interest of the community to work with him.  

     

     

    What benefit does The Cube bring to the tech sector in BC?

    The Cube provides companies with a place to learn and grow from each other. These are agile businesses, constantly shifting their product offerings in an effort to meet the demands of the market. We are very proud of the work that they are doing and the success they are having. It’s extremely important to acknowledge BC Tech’s support as they provide guidance to our board, which is responsible for governing the hub and enhancing the local ecosystem. Additionally, they assist with growth through the multitude of programs they offer. The Cube is also a nexus of activity for the many events we’ve hosted in the space.  

     

    How many companies are currently operating out of there? What types of projects are they working on?

    There are currently 16 companies working out of here. Some, like LlamaZOO and Cloudhead Games, have their core teams elsewhere (Victoria and Qualicum Beach). However, they derive great benefit from the space by attending events and doing their marketing from the hub. Others, like uForis, have their teams equally split between here and Waterloo, while companies like Hammer and Tong and  Didjet are anchored in the space. These companies all work in different areas of AR/VR; some provide custom content for their customers while others are focused on building platform solutions. There are also some companies, like Cloudhead, exclusively focused on the VR games market. In fact, they just won the 'VR Game of the Year Award' for The Gallery - Episode 2: Heart of The Emberstone!

     

    What do you see as the future of VR?

    The future looks bright. The biggest surge for VR/AR has been in the B2B realm. Many companies, like Finger Food, have made custom solutions for their customers that create efficiencies. In general, we are still in the beginning stages of a market which ultimately will only reach the mainstream when fully augmented reality glasses are comfortable, wireless, and networked (i.e. as easy to use as our phones and as useful). Between now and then we will continue to see growth in the consumer VR market for games and metaverse applications, and the business XR market for simulation/visualization, workplace safety and training, and product design.


    What have you seen that surprised or delighted you in a VR or AR experience?

    Of course, I am biased and see the experiences or content of platforms that our companies are building as the most delightful. I think some of the work that Aaron Hilton (Steampunk Digital) and Jacob Ervin (Occipital) collaborated on is truly ground-breaking, especially Kitty Kong which is a very cool MR experience. It allows users to point their device at the top of a physical replica of the Empire State Building and interact with King Kong as he swats at planes. There are many other experiences that are truly wonderful. If I had to pick one that has stayed with me, it would have to be Cari Ann Shim Sham’s Parksville Murders.

     

    Where would you like to see The Cube in five years?

    BC is emerging as one of the top give hubs for XR. For the past 40 years, the region has emerged as a dominant force in the visual effects, video game, and animation industries. BC is part of a 3D ecosystem that employs approximately 17,000 workers and this has been a boon for the XR industry. I would like the ecosystem to become more mature and for us to see growth similar to the film industry. However, I think we need to solve one of the biggest problems for the growth of companies and that is access to capital.

     

    What sorts of things typically happen at The Cube?

    The Cube has a brilliant event space that seats 80 people comfortably. We’ve held conferences and had delegations visit from all over the world (Taiwan, France, Brazil, and Korea). We have regular events like our ‘Lunch and Learn’ series, plus parties and other social gatherings.

     

    How can people get involved?

    The best way is to get involved is by visiting https://wearebctech.com/memberships/the-cube/


    What is the best way for somebody to find out more information about becoming a tenant, booking the space, or getting a tour?

    They can reach out to me (alan@blueplate.ca) or our Community Manager, Danilo Correia (dcorreia@wearebctech.com) as he is a great source of information and can help whether it is with tenancy or booking the space.

     

  • 14 Nov 2018 by DigiBC

    Image Engine is a world-class visual effects studio based in Vancouver, BC. The company was founded in 1995 and touts itself as a team of creative and passionate individuals, specializing in a number of areas including character/creature design and animation, digital environments, VFX supervision, and concept art. They also take pride in having a strong commitment to furthering the art of visual storytelling and pushing the boundaries of artistic and technical achievement. Since being nominated for an Academy Award for their work on District 9, Image Engine has gone on to create many other incredible creatures, environments, and digital effects.
     


    Their portfolio consists of a diverse range of television and films and the list is quite extensive. However, some of the standouts and ones they are most proud of include:

     

    • Their work in Game of Thrones S07 featuring Drogon led to them winning the ‘Outstanding Animated Character in an Episode or Real-Time Project’ Visual Effects Society Award.
    • Logan (20th Century Fox) because of the insanity to successfully pull off recreating Hugh Jackman digitally in two different guises as Logan and X-24. “The work was badass, no doubt about it!” - Shawn Walsh, VFX Executive Producer & GM
    • KIN (Lionsgate) was a special project where they worked closely with the filmmakers to create some subtle science fiction coolness. This is very much a part of the Image Engine fabric as visual effects artists.
    • The opening sequence of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (Warner Bros.) showcases their work with a very complex, dynamic, and sophisticated scene.
    • Lost in Space (Netflix) was an achievement since it was done to the new True 4K specification and featured hero work done in very close collaboration with the clients. Additionally, Joao Sita (VFX Supervisor) went on to be nominated for the ‘Outstanding Special Visual Effects’ Emmy.
       


    In 2017, Image Engine expanded into a cool new space by renovating the adjacent building to their current location on West 5th Avenue in Mount Pleasant. This change has enabled the company to increase their production capacity, while simultaneously improving the office for employees. The result is a comfortable, collaborative studio with a happy workforce. Over the years, Image Engine has developed an approach to both staff and clients that's warm and friendly… akin to a family vibe with a focus on technical and creative excellence as opposed to market share. In an industry that's often times only able to think about tomorrow, their cultural path has focused on steady, sustainable growth. Ultimately, they hope this brings a boutique mentality to a company that can punch above its weight!

     


    Currently, Image Engine has a number of projects on the go that includes Mulan (Walt Disney Pictures), Pokémon: Detective Pikachu (Legendary Entertainment), and John Wick: Parabellum (Lionsgate). They are always on the lookout for top talent to join their team. If you think you have what it takes, then be sure to check out the list of available opportunities on their careers page.

     

  • 09 Nov 2018 by DigiBC

    On October 29, 2018, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) launched its annual essential facts research. This year’s study focused on the Canadian gamer and featured demographic profiles, stats on device usage, video game acquisitions, and ESRB rating awareness. Essential Facts 2018 revealed that two-thirds of Canadians, or 23 million of us, are gamers. This makes Canada home to one of the largest per capita populations of video game players in the world. The study also gives insight into the Canadian gamer - who they are, what they play and what other activities they like to engage in. The average age in Canada for a video game player has increased to 39, meaning that Baby Boomer and Gen X Canadians play more than ever before, especially on their mobiles and tablets. Players also recognize the positive impact video games have on their daily lives and its central role in social interactions across all age groups.
     

    Following the launch, ESAC will be conducting a nationwide tour for industry and stakeholders. President & CEO Jayson Hilchie will be presenting an outline of the 2018 study, with an extended overview at the Montreal International Games Summit (MIGS). Join ESAC in Toronto (October 29), Montreal (November 13), Halifax (November 14) and Vancouver (November 26). Please RSVP to: jhilchie@theesa.ca


    To download the PDF booklet, click here
     

    To read more about the Canadian gamer, visit: theESA.Ca
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • 08 Nov 2018 by DigiBC

    As part of our strong commitment to creative technology-related educational initiatives in the province, DigiBC is asking for your support through sponsorship of the B.C. Game Developers Innovation Award, in conjunction with the Science Fair Foundation of B.C. Sponsors will be recognized in at regional Science Fairs across the province and can optionally be involved in judging student projects and hosting winning students at their studio. We already have sponsors in Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Victoria and Kelowna - please get involved and help make this a truly province-wide award!

    The Innovation Award was created last year and awarded to deserving high school students at Science Fairs all across British Columbia in February, March and April 2018. This is the second year that the BC media industry has supported this award and we would love your involvement.
     


    Science Fairs

    The Science Fair Foundation of British Columbia serves to support, organize, stage and fundraise for science fairs in BC. This extends to local, regional, national and international science fairs where students supported by the foundation have consistently produced high standard projects. In British Columbia, 14 regional fairs are part of the nearly 100 fairs held every year across Canada. Each fair is affiliated with Youth Science Canada.

    For more information - www.sciencefairs.ca


    The Award

    The B.C. Game Developers Innovation Award will be awarded to the student(s) whose project demonstrates creativity and innovation in computer science, mathematics, engineering, or astronomy. The award encourages the participation of women, First Nations, and others traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.

    Open to students in grades 7 to 12, the award includes a $50 cash award for a junior project (grades 7-8), $100 for intermediate (9-10) and $150 for senior (11-12), and will be awarded at all 14 regional science fairs. We also hope to provide winning students with the opportunity to visit a game development studio as part of their prize.


    Why Sponsor?

    The B.C. Game Developers Innovation Award represents a great opportunity to give back to our local communities, promote STEM education in B.C., and generate some positive publicity for B.C. game developers.

    Science fairs are a great way to encourage young people into science, technology, engineering, and math-related activities and careers. These fairs offer students in grades 4-12 the opportunity to create original scientific research or innovative projects which are then displayed at various levels of competition. They are offered at the school, district, regional, national and international levels. Supported by the Science Fair Foundation BC, 14 regions of the province will hold local fairs in February, March and April 2019 where students will be selected for Team BC - to represent their region at the national competition held in Fredericton, New Brunswick from May 11-18, 2019.

    In 2018 the award was sponsored by Blackbird Interactive, East Side Games, Electronic Arts, Finger Food Studios and Klei in the Lower Mainland, Codename Entertainment in Victoria, and Hyper Hippo and Kinematic Soup in Kelowna. We would love to find sponsors from as many regions of the province as possible to make this a truly BC-wide award!

    If you would like to contribute to this co-sponsored award, please let us know! The deadline for contributions is November 30, 2018

     

    Credit card payments can be made online directly through the DigiBC website.

    Please contact the DigiBC office (team@digibc.org) if you would like to pay by cheque, wire transfer, or make a donation less than $1000.

     

    What You’ll Get

    Any DigiBC member company who provides $1,000 in sponsorship for the award will receive:

    • Their logo on www.sciencefairs.ca
    • Acknowledgment in promotional materials
    • Acknowledgment on Science Fair Foundation BC website
    • Acknowledgment on SFF BC social media channels


    In addition, if you would like to be involved in the fair for your region, you can help adjudicate the award, attend the awards ceremony and help to present the Game Developers Award, and optionally host winning students for a visit to your company office. There are also likely to be opportunities for local media coverage. Not to mention the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from helping students participate in science-based learning.

     

    If sponsorship is oversubscribed we plan to use the remaining funds for any or all of:

    • plaques for student winners to commemorate their achievements
    • additional sponsorship to the Science Fair Foundation
    • travel subsidy for students to visit the nearest game studio sponsor
    • putting funds aside to support science fairs in future years

     

    We look forward to your support!

     

    Team BC

     

     

     

  • 06 Nov 2018 by DigiBC

    We had a great time on October 29 meeting with over 300 students from 11 different schools at the MPPIA Career Expo which took place at the Vancity Theatre. This has become a highly anticipated event on school and community calendars as it plays a key role providing insight and info to students who could become our next generation of professionals in the creative tech sector. In addition to the expo, a series of 'Industry Insider'discussion sessions were held and DigiBC's Executive Director, Brenda Bailey, was on hand to share her career path story for all three. Huge thanks to Kirsten Mihailides for organizing another successful event!

     

     

  • 16 Oct 2018 by DigiBC

    We held our annual summer barbecue a bit differently this year... it was in October! Guests were treated to a southern style spread that was hosted at CBRE's beautiful downtown office. It was a fun and engaging night where members from the creative tech sector came together to socialize and network with their peers. Dipping into various interesting conversations and witnessing many new connections being made showed how valuable these events can be. It was great to see folks from video games, visual effects, and animation connecting over delicious food and libations.
     

    DigiBC's Executive Director, Brenda Bailey, spoke briefly and highlighted our mission to promote, support, and accelerate the growth of B.C.'s interactive and digital media (IDM) industry through government relations work, education initiatives, networking, and community building events.  With the need to grow our home-grown talent through education at all levels, membership in our trade association has perhaps never been more important than it is now. The future of our sector depends on our ability to hire talent, and DigiBC is leading the way with education initiatives geared to invite B.C. youth into our sector. CBRE's Senior VP, Kevin Nelson, also said a few words that touched on the Vancouver tech real estate market and the work he and his team do with sourcing exceptional workspace environments. Attendees were then treated to an exclusive tour of the award-winning CBRE office and had the opportunity to see and hear about the many wellness ideas that have been incorporated into their workspace. 


    This event would not have been possible without the generous support of our wonderful sponsor, The High Tech Facilities Group (HTFG) @ CBRE. We can't thank them enough! The HTFG @ CBRE is our proud new partner for corporate real estate. Since 1994, they have been Vancouver's only tenant representation team that focuses exclusively on commercial real estate solutions for B.C.'s technology sector. 
     

    Be sure to join our mailing list and stay up-to-date on all of our future events here.

     

  • 11 Oct 2018 by DigiBC

    Brenda Bailey, Executive Director of DigiBC, has participated in a number of industry consultations to ensure the Interactive Digital Media sector’s voice is being heard by our government. DigiBC represented your interests at the following important meetings over the past month.

     
    September 13, 2018
    Brenda participated in the Roundtable Discussion with Dr. Arvind Gupta: Government of Canada's National Digital and Data Consultations.
    The primary focus of this consultation was planning in regard to future talent shortages.

     

    Brenda, with the assistance of Peter Greenwood (CFO, Blackbird Interactive) and Sarah Tutton Frost (Tax Director, EA), presented to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services as they held public consultations for the 2019 budget. DigiBC put forward the following recommendations:


    1) Increase BC Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (BCIDMTC) from 17.5% to 25%
    2) Create a regional diversification incentive in the BCIDMTC by adding an additional 10% for rural and northern regions


    In addition to presenting to the Standing Committee, DigiBC will be hosting an MLA luncheon in Victoria on October 31, taking meetings with key government officials, and presenting an updated recommendations document to the Ministry of Finance. Industry members are most welcome to come meet with MLAs and put forward the case to support our sector. Please contact brenda@digibc.org should you be able to join us in Victoria on October 31.



    September 19, 2018
    This was an opportunity to speak with Andrew Weaver as he led a lively discussion on the future of work at the Centre of Digital Media. Jill Tipping of BC Tech and Dr. Weaver co-moderated a panel of students who shared their views on what the future looks like.

     

    September 25, 2018
    Brenda attended the Premier’s Event at the Bill Reid Gallery, which provided an opportunity to share our message with Carol James, Minister of Finance, Rob Fleming, Minister of Education, Premier John Horgan, Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. 

     

    October 10, 2018
    Brenda participated in the Tech Strategy Framework Consultation with the Honourable Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. This two-hour consultation provided industry representatives the opportunity to give feedback on the newly announced government tech framework.

     

     

  • 10 Oct 2018 by DigiBC

    Phoenix Labs is an independent game studio located in Vancouver and was founded in 2014 by Jesse Houston, Sean Bender, and Robin Mayne. Their ultimate goal behind starting the company was to create lasting and memorable AAA-level multiplayer video game experiences. Jesse and Robin are veterans of the Edmonton-based developer BioWare, where they led teams on the Mass Effect trilogy. Later, Jesse and Robin met Sean Bender when they worked together on League of Legends at Riot Games.

     

     

    The team at Phoenix Labs is a carefully crafted ensemble of close-knit developers who have enjoyed making games together throughout their careers. They strive to create an environment for employees to feel empowered and where everyone’s voice can be heard. They also pride themselves on having an autonomous team with a flat structure and a highly efficient development process that is exceptionally collaborative. Over the years, Phoenix Labs has made great strides by incorporating diversity and inclusivity at the studio. They now tout themselves as being a multicultural, multi-ethnic, gender diverse group of people with wildly different backgrounds… and they want this to reflect in their products. However, these changes did not happen overnight. It took time to implement but the payoff has been tremendous. So what exactly did they do to get there? The first step was to believe that having a diverse studio will result in better games being made.

    Initially in the early hiring days, one of the requirements was to have shipped a game with Jesse. This helped to create a super tight-knit group who trusted each other and could hit the ground running. However, it did not make for a particularly diverse team. Recognizing this was not what they wanted the studio to look like, a huge revamp of the hiring process took place. Starting with recruiting, a pipeline analysis was conducted on how candidates were sourced, the environment they were coming in to, who they were interviewing with, the questions asked, and the materials needed to judge their craft skill. One specific change made was removing a portfolio review and replacing it with a testing system. As hires were mainly people with 7+ years of experience, the best candidates in this age range were not focusing on managing a portfolio. Instead, they were spending time with their families and at work. They also identified that some groups, such as parents with young children, may not have had the opportunities to work on an impressive portfolio but could still be incredibly talented and valuable additions to the team. The most pivotal adjustment made was rethinking internal cultural mindsets to include a person’s background as a qualifying factor. People coming from the same backgrounds and having had the same experiences were not helping them to better understand the perspective of their players. Additionally, Phoenix Labs pays close attention to not grow the company at a frantic pace. Doing this allows for close relationships to be formed with each individual who joins the team, as well as ample opportunities for growth within the company. At Phoenix Labs, they truly believe people are the ends and not the means.

     

     

    The team’s main focus right now is on Dauntless, their free-to-play, co-op, action RPG which is currently in open beta on PC. Producing a live game presents a million variables that ultimately depend on having a close-knit group of ambitious developers. Their studio culture is a direct result of their love for games and this passion shows through in Dauntless. While Phoenix Labs is not actively recruiting on many roles at the moment, they are always open to talking to interesting and driven candidates for roles across all disciplines. To learn more about Phoenix Labs and Dauntless, you can check out their website.

     

    “Dauntless is hands down the most interesting game I’ve worked on with the best team I’ve ever worked with.” - Jesse Houston, Co-founder

     

     

     

  • 09 Oct 2018 by DigiBC

    PROCOLOMBIA, the non-profit entity of the Colombian government tasked with the promotion of the country's exports, tourism, direct foreign investment, and brand to the world, wants to have you at their 'Colombia Bring It On 2018' business matchmaking forum. It will take place at one of the hottest innovation festivals in the world, Unbound Miami. This is a pioneering event in the digital economy that is characterized by setting trends and being disruptive in the technology sector.  It’s already had great success in Singapore, Bahrain, and London earlier this year.

    There you will meet and get to know Colombian IT and creative tech companies with the objective of creating strategic networks and generating business opportunities within IT services, audiovisual, and creative digital content. As part of PROCOLOMBIA’s delegation, you will be able to schedule business meetings and take advantage of all the events that Unbound brings to Miami.


    In an effort to promote the sector in Canada,
    PROCOLOMBIA will cover the cost of airfare for BC companies who are selected to take part in the event.


    When: October 30 & 31, 2018
    Where: Mana, Wynwood, Miami

    Click here to register now!


    Further inquiries can be directed to: Luis Felipe Avellaneda (lavellaneda@procolombia.co)

     

  • 09 Oct 2018 by DigiBC

    We sat down with CBRE's High Technology Facilities Group (HTFG) to talk about what a growing tech company should know and can expect when thinking about real estate.
     

    What is happening in the downtown office leasing market?

    In short, and it should not come as a surprise, office rental rates are up and vacancy is down. Typically rents slightly go up year after year, however, in 2018 we are measuring rent increases by quarters even and month to month. This change has Vancouver ranked fourth globally for having the fastest growing office rental appreciation in the first three quarters of 2018. Perhaps it was long overdue and we are catching up, but this is now our new reality.

    Depending on the size of your office (10-20, 30-50, 100+ employees) competition can be fierce. Landlords with move-in ready locations are the big winners, and market-ready firms that know their requirements need to execute quickly when they see the right space and want to secure it. Slow decision making or leaving the search until the last minute can cause companies to overpay, lose out on quality options, or even be forced to move. 


    What types of spaces are companies looking for and in what areas?

    Tech companies are primarily looking for office spaces that are plug-and-play or move-in ready. They want a space that isn't going to be a big project (i.e., requiring time for design, needing permits, construction, or build out). The design trend for a tech office has typically been the open-concept with bench desks, interior meeting rooms, and an open ceiling with industrial/heritage features. Lately, this trend has been shifting back towards being less open and having more smaller sub-areas that split up into different teams, departments, or groups. This can minimize the number of distractions while optimizing work production. Developers and sales teams do not want the same type of space so this allows for a company to enjoy culture flexibility while giving each department its own space to work as they need it. 

    Location, location, location! This age-old real estate term is still relevant today and we are still seeing a net migration of companies going to the downtown core. They aim to shorten commutes for staff using transit and walking or biking while providing all the amenities that downtown offers.

    Heritage brick and beam spaces have continued to be in high demand, as seen by Gastown and Yaletown's near-record low vacancies of 2.5-3% (compared to that of downtown at 4.5%). Downtown, Gastown, and Yaletown remain the highest in demand, specifically areas close to Waterfront Station and buildings with good amenities and views.  

      

    Mount Pleasant (Main/Cambie industrial area) has been getting a lot of attention since Hootsuite moved in 5+ years ago. I’ve seen lots of cranes going up and some new commercial buildings under construction. What companies are moving in, and why are they choosing to move here? Why here and not downtown?

    Mount Pleasant, or as some call it the MBD (Millennial Business District), has a lot of momentum with significant tech, post-production, and VFX companies making this area their home. Companies like Relic, DHX Media, Samsung, Atomic Cartoons, Double Negative, Abcellera, Saje Wellness, Hootsuite and WeWork (along with many others), have all made a significant stamp and commitment to the area. Choosing this neighbourhood has become a cultural and brand decision within companies. Some of the many factors include its proximity to transit (Canada Line and buses) and the seawall, the fantastic amenities (restaurants, food trucks, coffee shops, breweries), and the vibrant work/live culture. People are walking or biking to work, grabbing a coffee from a local cafe, bringing their dog to the office, or visiting with friends after work for a beer or workout/yoga class, all while staying in the same area. Transit is great and getting to the downtown core is quick.

     

    As a growing 20 person company, when should I start the process of evaluating space options and what should I expect through the process?

    In today's highly competitive 'space race', it's very important to start the process early and get all key personnel/decision makers involved to avoid timely or costly changes in direction later. This means outlining the growth/hiring strategy and completing an evaluation to set the correct space parameters. Once this is done, learning and understanding the market no less than six months out from a lease expiry is key. This means you'll avoid making a rushed decision, can plan for renovations, and are not left hanging or rushing to move into a space that isn’t ready or the most optimal fit. It is never too early to get familiar with the office market conditions and build a strategy for a company’s real estate needs.

     

    How is co-working impacting office leasing and who is moving in? Who should consider these options? Is it here to stay?

    While the concept has been around for years, the recent explosion of WeWork, Spaces, and other co-working companies does seem to be the experience the market wants and it doesn't seem to be slowing down. WeWork leased over 230,000 SF of office space downtown over three buildings, recently added another 44,000 SF at Main/5th Avenue and they are still on the hunt for more. Spaces opened a full six-story building in Gastown and has plans for 35,000 SF on Great Northern Way. The demand is there and companies like it, however, it is not meant for everyone. They offer flexible month-to-month leases which can initially be good for many young start-ups but it comes at a premium. Once a company has stabilized its growth and reached a threshold level of employees (typically 10+), the rent premium of co-working often becomes less desirable and rental costs get cheaper for a direct lease space.

     

    Why are companies choosing to open an office in Vancouver and why are local companies choosing to stay and expand in Vancouver? What is Vancouver’s edge over other cities like Toronto, San Francisco, and Seattle?

    For larger international companies, Vancouver is a fantastic location due to its proximity and time zone to other major tech markets like San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Seattle. The Cascadia region is getting attention from our governments, connecting businesses, and creating opportunities (like the new downtown Seattle to downtown Vancouver seaplane route). 

    Vancouver has a great tech talent pool to draw from. It is also growing as qualified companies help workers settle in with their work visas and local schools are expanding their programs to meet the growing demand. Salaries are still relatively low compared to the USA, however, this is expected to change once the 'Amazon effect' starts to kick in (Amazon will be adding approximately 10,000+ employees over the next four to five years). Talent, employee costs, and our growing tech ecosystem will ensure Vancouver continues to draw interest from international and out of province candidates and contribute to local company growth.

     

    Who should people contact to learn more about growth and real estate in Vancouver?

    The High Technology Facilities Group has been focused on providing tailored real estate solutions for the Vancouver tech community for over 25 years. The team is composed of Alain Rivere (604.662.5110), Kevin Nelson (604.662.5155), and Blair Quinn (604.662.5161) and they welcome anyone to reach out to them with questions // hightech.cbrevancouver.com

     

     

     

     

     

  • 08 Oct 2018 by DigiBC

    Wednesday, September 19 saw the arrival of the second delegation of Korean mixed reality developers to come and visit BC as part of the three-year digital media action plan signed between DigiBC and Gyeonggi Content Agency (GCA). This plan was signed back in January 2018 during Premier John Horgan's trade mission to Asia and is a key focus of the sister province relationship between BC and Gyeonggi - now in its tenth year. The delegation was part of GCA's Global Collaboration Project, through which Korean mixed reality startups visit three key global mixed reality hubs to explore real business cooperation with companies in those markets. BC has been identified as one of the partner hubs, alongside New York and Manchester, UK.


    The delegation of five companies spent nearly two weeks in BC and participated in the VR AR Global Summit, the Women in XR Fund reception, VIFF Immersed, and then conducted their own series of meetings with local companies. They set up a temporary base of operations within the BC Tech Cube and over the course of the two weeks, participated in at least 100 meetings and entered into over twenty initial MOU-stage agreements with a variety of BC-based MR companies. Skeptics might argue that the number of MOU's signed during an international mission is not necessarily the best criteria for judging the success or failure of the activity, but in this case, I am confident that the types and quality of partnerships discussed will lead to real business outcomes of benefit to both the Korean and BC companies and ultimately, to the strength of the partnership we are trying to foster between our provinces.


    While the companies in the delegation spanned a cross-section of industries currently utilizing mixed reality technologies, all of them had interesting technology and solutions and found real traction in their discussions with potential partners. Importantly, I think all delegates left with an understanding of the pros (and some of the cons) of doing business in the MR sector in BC.
     

    Gyeonggi Province boasts exceptionally impressive digital media and MR incubation and accelerator facilities in the heart of the digital media industry in Korea and these are open to both Korean and overseas companies. We are planning a visit to these facilities prior to or just after the G-Star Conference in Busan this November. Any DigiBC member companies interested in finding out more about this activity can contact James Hursthouse (jameshursthouse@gmail.com) for more information. 

     

    ~ James Hursthouse, DigiBC Board Member

     

    Top: various members of the GCP Korean delegation who visited BC in September 2018 

    Bottom: members of the GCP Korean delegation enjoy one of the exhibits at the VIFF Immersed opening gala at the Centre for Digital Media
     

  • 07 Oct 2018 by DigiBC

    The 2018 VIFF Immersed Conference & Exhibition took place from September 28 to October 2. It was a jam-packed weekend and DigiBC was on hand for many of the highly anticipated events that took place. It kicked off on Friday, September 28 with the inaugural VIFF Immersed Tech Crawl. This showcased the BC creative-tech ecosystem to visiting buyers, tech companies, and producers in the hopes of encouraging further engagement and business development opportunities. It included four stops, each presenting a company that specializes in VR paired up with a local brewery (you can’t have a ‘crawl’ without some beer on hand!). DigiBC was the first scheduled stop and we had Finger Food Studios come set up and demo their latest VR projects along with Brassneck Brewery giving out some tasty beer samples. The other stops included Vancouver Film School, Microsoft, and the BC Tech Cube with the crawl ending at TELUS Garden for the official VIP reception that included a demo from Ziva Dynamics.
     

    The following day kicked off the VIFF Immersed two-day conference and three-day exhibition, along with a red carpet gala in the evening that featured a performance by hologram pop star, Maya Kodes. The public exhibition was presented by Samsung VR Video and offered fans first-hand engagement with a number of immersive experiences. Additionally, for the first year ever, a selection of BC content was shown to spotlight creators in the province who are pushing the boundaries of creative storytelling in VR. The conference included two full days of panel discussions and interactive workshops that focussed on connecting BC immersive content creators with key industry decision makers. DigiBC’s Executive Director, Brenda Bailey, led a discussion about the ecosystem for immersive content in BC. She was joined by Vincent McCurley of NFB Interactive, Alan Goldman of Emily Carr University and chair of The Cube, Jennifer Moss of UBC, and Nancy Basi of the Vancouver Economic Commission and VR/AR Vancouver.
     

    Since 2014, the Vancouver International Film Festival has been exploring VR as an emerging medium for cinematic storytelling. As part of the NEXT program stream, VIFF expanded its commitment to immersive storytelling with the inaugural VIFF Immersed Conference & Exhibition. Their goal is to bring together the creative and technology sectors in order to develop a global destination event that will focus on immersive, entertainment-based storytelling and nurture ecosystem growth within BC and across Canada. This year turned out to be a huge success and we are already looking forward to seeing what VIFF Immersed 2019 will bring!

     

  • 05 Oct 2018 by DigiBC

    Canada, USA, and Mexico reach tentative new USMCA trade deal

    After more than a year of intense negotiations, the United States, Canada, and Mexico reached an agreement in principle to update NAFTA, the 1994 pact that governs more than $1.2 trillion worth of trade among the three nations. Both President Trump and Prime Minister Trudeau are heralding the new deal as a success for their respective countries.

    NAFTA will be renamed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement – or USMCA. The text of the full agreement can be found here: https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/united-states-mexico-canada-agreement/united-states-mexico

    The early consensus is that the USMCA will result in some significant reforms to Canadian copyright and IP law, with most changes favouring rights holders. The following is a summary of the most relevant provisions in the new agreement as it pertains to our industry.

     

    Copyright Term Extension

    Copyright terms in Canada currently extend for 50 years beyond the year the creator of the work dies or if not owned by a single creator, the last day of the year the work was released. The USMCA will bring Canada's copyright terms in line with the U.S. and Europe who have longer terms: 70 years after the creator's death or 75 years after the last day of the year the work was launched. This is a significant win for our sector here in Canada as it was a point we have been advocating on since 2015 when the music industry was given these provisions.

     

    TPM’s Enshrined

    The Technical Protection Measures that are so important to our industry have been enshrined in law within the USMCA, including civil and criminal penalties. We are currently investigating the details to determine if there are any significant differences between the TPM’s enshrined in the USMCA and those provided in the Copyright Modernization Act (2012).  At first review, they are very similar, including the various exceptions.

     

    Notice-and-Notice Preserved

    One area that did not change is the notice-and-notice system, as the IP chapter includes an annex (Annex to Section J) that creates an exemption to the notice-and-takedown requirement for any party that, as of the date of the agreement, has a notice-and-notice system. That means that Canada gets to keep notice-and-notice, which is the same outcome as when we entered into the EU agreement. While not the most ideal outcome, our industry has long since accepted that a notice-and-takedown regime is not culturally acceptable in Canada at the current time.

    Under the new agreement, the more punitive notice-and-takedown approach used in the US becomes the legal standard in Mexico.

     

    No Data Localization Requirements

    The digital trade chapter in the new agreement largely mirrors that of the TPP. Most notable are the rules around data localization. The USMCA restricts the ability for a country to impose data localization rules, which could have an impact on future privacy reforms. Similarly, the data transfer provisions limit the ability to restrict data transfers across borders, which could become a challenge should the EU require restrictions to meet its privacy standards. Canada effectively agreed to similar provisions in the TPP and their inclusion in this agreement is unsurprising.

     

    Cultural Exemptions Preserved 

    Unchanged from the original version of NAFTA, cultural exemptions will remain in the new deal. This particular segment became a Canadian must-have, Prime Minister Trudeau argued, because otherwise, it could enable American companies to buy Canadian newspapers or TV stations.

    It is worth noting that video games are not listed by name in the list of “cultural industries” along with radio, music, magazines, television, etc. While we could be captured in theory, it was a request of ESAC’s that the industry not be specifically mentioned in the clause in fear that it could create retaliatory protectionist policies in key export markets.

     

    “De minimis” Threshold

    Both Canada and Mexico agreed to raise the thresholds at which they apply duties to cross-border purchase, including online, another key U.S. demand.

    Canada raised its threshold to $150 for duties and $40 for sales taxes, from $20 for both in the previous agreement. It is believed that this change, which was opposed by the Canadian retail industry, was agreed to by Canada in exchange for still being able to collect sales tax on the purchases over $40.

    This would imply that a Canadian consumer can now purchase most standard priced games from the US duty (but not tax) free.  Given the unfavourable exchange rate, however, it remains to be seen if this change will lead to a notable increase in Canadian consumers purchasing video games in the US or from US online retailers.

     

    Cross-Border Labour Mobility Remains

    The inter-company transfers within NAFTA that are so crucial to our members have been maintained in the new agreement under Chapter 16 – Temporary Entry for Business Persons.  The program continues to apply to Managers, Executives and those employees who demonstrate a level of “Specialized Knowledge”, which could apply to senior creative and technical employees.  The actual definition of “Specialized Knowledge” is something that each country sets.  Currently the definition in Canada is much stricter than it has been in the past, however still allows for certain employees to move freely between office locations.

     

    Additional Highlights

    In addition to the changes most relevant to our industry, other highlights of the USMCA include:

    • Preservation of the ‘Chapter 19’ dispute resolution mechanism which allows Canada to challenge punitive American tariffs on imports at binational panels rather than in the U.S. court system.
    • No tariffs on Canadian automobiles or parts.
    • No five-year‘ Sunset Clause’.
    • Aluminum and steel tariffs remain. 
    • Increased US market access for dairy, poultry and egg products, although supply management remains.

    ESAC will continue to closely monitor the USMCA as it proceeds to ratification in all three countries and into implementation in 2019 as planned. If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact Paul Fogolin, Policy Director at ESAC (pfogolin@theesa.ca).

     

  • 25 Sep 2018 by DigiBC

    The WXR Venture Fund invests in VR/AR/MR startups that are committed to having balanced gender representation. WXR also provides community infrastructure to support women leaders in immersive tech and will invest in early-stage startups with at least one female founder or at least 50% women on the leadership team. Their investment thesis is rooted in both social and economic impact and aims to help build a more inclusive industry from the ground up, as well as leverage the unique economic opportunity that current demographic imbalances create. Their robust community programming, including pitch showcases, a curated mentor program, educational content, and media partnerships, is designed to amplify the impact of the investments by elevating and accelerating their portfolio companies.    


    When was the WXR Fund set up?
    Work started on it in mid-2017 and they hosted their first pitch showcase in January 2018.


    Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?
    The three founding partners are Martina Welkhoff, Malia Probst and Abby Albright. Martina is a serial entrepreneur who started her first company in mobile gaming and moved into virtual reality after that company was acquired. Malia is a partner at VRScout, a leading media platform focused on immersive technology. Abby was an early employee at DAQRI, one of the first augmented reality headsets, and is currently completing an MBA at Wharton.  

     

    What was the motivation for setting this up?
    As they move toward the next major computing paradigm, there is a transformational opportunity to build a more inclusive industry from the ground up. These leaders will have a profound impact on what spatial computing becomes. Everything from the products they create, the teams they build, and the way they reinvest their wealth will forever change the technology landscape. The optimal time to make lasting change is during these early days where the industry is forming and norms are being established.


    Who can benefit from this fund?
    Bold women founders in immersive technology and people who value diversity.


    Where can someone find out more information on the WXR Fund? 
    http://wxrfund.com
    https://twitter.com/wxrfund

     

     

     

  • 23 Sep 2018 by DigiBC

    The Vancouver International Film Festival extends its mission of celebrating excellence in screen-based storytelling with the launch of VIFF Immersed. Dedicated to exceptional narrative storytelling in VR/AR/MR, VIFF Immersed will host a two-day conference program where art, technology, and business will intersect. Plus, the three-day public exhibition offers fans firsthand engagement with immersive experiences that are re-imagining storytelling.

     

    VIFF Immersed Conference: September 29 + 30

    New Realities in Storytelling is designed to connect BC immersive content creators with key industry decision makers and creators making work that demonstrates high artistic execution and commercial viability. The conference presents top creators, executives and case studies speaking on content creation, production technologies and distribution.

    BC Immersed is a day of high-value workshops for producers, directors, technologists and content commissioners wishing to understand multiple aspects of immersive production including image capture, production workflow and live 360 broadcasting and more. Top experts in these areas will deliver interactive workshops and BC Showcase presentations will focus on immersive content created by BC-based companies and creators.

    Conference passes can be purchased here - https://viff.org/Online/2018-viff-immersed

     

    VIFF Immersed Exhibition: September 29 - October 2

    Presented by Samsung VR Video, this is a three-day public, VIFFticketed exhibition featuring VR, AR and MR experiences staged on a wide range of immersive technology platforms. It celebrates the best of storytelling; showcases some of today’s most important creators, platforms and technologies; and represents the current state of this burgeoning industry.

    Tickets are $15 each and can be purchased here - https://viff.org/Online/fs429-immersed-exhibition

     

     

  • 19 Sep 2018 by DigiBC

    DigiBC is deeply sorry to hear that Capcom has closed its Vancouver office. We will work to help those affected by allowing companies to post for free on our job board over the next two months. Also, put October 11th in your books for our fall barbeque. Sponsored by CBRE, it's a free event and will be a great place for networking, learning about new opportunities, and meeting folks who might know about the next project you could be interested in.

    Lastly, if we can do anything like host a resume/portfolio feedback session or provide a place for folks to work on their stuff, let us know. Get in touch at team@digibc.org to share your ideas and we'll do our best to deliver on them. Let's work together to keep this amazing talent in BC!


    Brenda Bailey
    Executive Director
    DigiBC

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