2018 was a year of significant growth at DigiBC. In mid-February, a full-time executive director was hired with the mandate to expand DigiBC’s focus on education, work with government partners to ensure BC is a place where creative tech companies can succeed and to continue building the creative tech community in the province. We summarize this as our three pillars: Government Relations, Education & Community Building.
Pillar 1: Government Relations
Cultural Trade Mission to China
DigiBC, in collaboration with Creative BC, attended the Canadian Creative Industries Cultural Trade Mission to China in April 2018. Attending member companies had the opportunity to meet with potential clients and partners with the support of our Canadian trade delegates. Many participants in the broader delegation closed deals on the trip and DigiBC member companies valued the opportunity to have business development support.
Ongoing Advocacy w/Provincial Government
Executive Director, Brenda Bailey, has met with the Minister of Technology, Bruce Ralston on numerous occasions to work on enhancing the business environment for our member studios. Minister Ralston has come to understand the important ripple effects of the video game industry – in terms of talent, business leadership, and technology. We have also been working with the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary for Technology, Rick Glumac, to advocate for IDMTC increases.
DigiBC Caucus Luncheon [10.31.2018]
DigiBC hosted a luncheon on Halloween at the Legislature in Victoria. Being that it was Star Wars themed, MLAs had the opportunity to operate R2D2 and BB8 droids, as well as enjoy a trick-or-treat basket with Star Wars themed candy. Each piece contained a video game industry fact and we received excellent feedback. Fifteen MLAs were present including the Ministry of Technology, the Parliamentary Secretary for Technology, the Minister of Advanced Education, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture, along with many others.
Rick Glumac Fundraiser
DigiBC was successful in selling more than 60 tickets for the Rick Glumac fundraiser in Port Moody. Shout out to Ryan at Finger Foods for his leadership and perseverance on this initiative. Thank you!
Photo: Parliamentary Secretary for Technology, Rick Glumac, hanging out with Phoenix Labs folks at Port Moody Ales
Government relations have primarily, but not solely, focused on advocating for an increase in the IDMTC in the 2019 Budget. We are also advocating for a better deal for BC IDM studios with the Canada Media Fund (CMF). As this fund falls under the Ministry of Heritage, having the opportunity to connect with him is valuable. Thanks to EA Vancouver for allowing Brenda to participate in his recent studio tour. Minister Pablo Rodriguez is originally from Argentina and 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 CMF falls under his portfolio.
DigiBC 2018 Reports
DigiBC delivered two important reports in 2018:
CMF Recommendations Report
First, we updated the 2017/18 IDMTC Report to reflect the 2018/19 recommendations to government for the 2019 budget. These are:
1. Increase the BC Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (BCIDMTC) investment from 17.5% to 25% in all regions
2. Create a regional diversification incentive by increasing the BCIDMTC in rural and northern regions by an additional 10 %
Second, we researched and shared our findings on the Canada Media Fund (CMF) Experimental Stream. BC is historically underrepresented and that trend continues in a downward trajectory. Because DigiBC works for our smaller and mid-sized IDM studios as well as larger studios, CMF underfunding is highly concerning to us and we are advocating strongly for changes. Specifically, we have met with Valerie Creighton, CEO and President of the CMF, and requested the following:
- A CMF Director from the Experimental Stream to be located permanently in Vancouver.
- Creation of an envelope of funding specifically for the IDM sector in BC and have it administered in BC.
- There should be a requirement for at least one juror member from BC to be present on each jury.
- Repayment of the CMF Experimental Stream is very low, yet compliance costs are extremely high. This should be analyzed, and changes made. We recommend the CMF Experimental Fund be turned into a grant with reduced compliance requirements.
- Rework the program to incentivize Canadian created IP.
Pillar 2: Education
In 2018, DigiBC was successful in beginning to roll out our multi-year education strategy. Ensuring there is domestic talent flowing into the BC creative tech sector and helping kids see themselves in this burgeoning industry is a classic win-win.
DigiBC Music Education Initiative: DigiMusic
September 2018-June 2019
DigiBC aims to introduce students across British Columbia to the possibilities of music composition in digital media and animation through a province-wide competition. Designed to expose students, parents, and educators to the excellent careers in the creative tech industry, students will learn about the scope, size, and exciting intellectual properties being created in their province.
By using the joy of music and the fun in creating it, DigiBC aims to involve kids in digital careers by showing them exactly how pivotal music can be within Interactive Digital Media (IDM, i.e. video games) and animation.
The details of music’s role in setting the tone and building scene, as well as the role of the composer themselves within the studio will be covered in short educational videos made by DigiBC. Ideally, as part of the Digi on the Road initiative, music professionals and executives from BC game and animation studios will be there in person instead of the video. Either way, the focus will be on these professionals’ stories and follow the often wandering and indirect paths they took to get where they are today.
Students will learn how music is integrated into video games and animation, how to work as a team and cooperate and begin to think about production challenges such as deadlines, technical limitations, and intellectual property rights. The students will then have until the contest deadline to compose their own music for the age-appropriate clips: one from a video game and the other from animation. After the deadline, a panel of judges will select the winners according to predefined criteria. Prizes will be awarded to winning schools, distributing musical equipment and digital learning programs as rewards. Among the awards being considered are tours of animation and IDM studios, and the inclusion of the winning composition in the final product (if legally viable).
Because the aim is to expose as many students, parents, and educators to the opportunities offered by IDM and animation, this contest is meant to be province-wide and available to students in grades 8-10 across 580 schools.
Play to Learn Program Expansion
Will be delivered into 67 new schools (11 new school districts) from September 2018 to June 2021
DigiBC has partnered with the Ministry of Education to help the Interactive and Digital Media sector in BC engage more fully with educational initiatives throughout the province. With over 150,000 technology-focused jobs in BC today, and 200,000 anticipated by 2021, DigiBC will work with local government to help build a pipeline of skilled technology professionals, close the skills gap, and ultimately drive our technology sector.
EA and Everfi have developed Play to Learn, a digital STEAM learning program. Play to Learn was successfully deployed to select schools during the current and previous academic years thanks to EA's support and generosity. The primary goals of Play to Learn are to ignite student interest in learning to code and pursuing technology careers. EA's education technology partner, Everfi is responsible for implementation in the classroom and liaising with schools and teachers, as they do now with over 20,000 schools across Canada and the USA. EA has granted DigiBC a royalty-free license for the use of Play to Learn and we look forward to continuing to expand the reach of this valuable program.
Play to Learn is aimed at teaching, assessing and certifying students in a variety of STEAM concepts, including the fundamentals of coding. The program provides approximately eight hours towards the government's mandate to provide 20 hours of K-8 coding education. In addition, Everfi continues to update and enhance the curriculum to ensure it addresses students when they are forming their opinions about STEM careers—in middle school and early secondary school—and stays current in a fast-changing STEAM landscape.
DigiBC’s delivery of this program includes a focus on rural and remote regions in the province. The list of school districts that we are targeting over the three-year implementation period is as follows:
- Kootenay Lake, School District 8
- Haida Gwaii, School District 50
- Prince Rupert, School District 52
- Prince George, School District 57
- Greater Victoria, School District 61
- Campbell River, School District 72
- Kamloops-Thompson, School District 73
- Cowichan Valley, School District 79
- Coast Mountains, School District 82
- North Okanagan-Shuswap, School District 83
- Vancouver Island North, School District 85
Digi On The Road
DigiBC will be supporting both the DigiMusic initiative and the expansion of Play to Learn with our Digi on the Road program. This will provide students in more remote areas of the province the chance to meet face to face with some of the talented people working in the video game, animation, VFX, and AR/MR fields. Designed to entertain and inspire, Digi on the Road is looking for volunteers to talk to kids about their career pathways. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to get involved.
Pillar 3: Community Building
2018 saw DigiBC provide numerous opportunities for folks in the industry to get together. Sometimes it is around a particular issue, such as our upcoming State of the Union panel discussion on original IP, occasionally it is just for laughs, (did you hear about our Rock Paper Scissors Tournament on February 6?) and once in a while, it is designed to help people network with their peers. We also strive to provide career and business development opportunities for our member studios.