Blogs

  • 25 Nov 2019 by DigiBC

    Government Relations

    For many in our industry, the fall season signals gearing up for release dates but here at DigiBC it's government relations time. With the BC Budget coming out each February, now is when we work with our government connections to ensure the importance of our sector is recognized. Executive Director, Brenda Bailey is spending a great deal of time in Victoria representing your interests. What are we hoping for in the Budget 2020?
     

    • We need to ensure the BC IDMTC remains in the budget. The recent cancellation of the IDMTC in Alberta points to the immediate cessation of growth that occurs when government no longer prioritizes the creative tech sector. Growth plans are on hold in our neighboring province and we are working hard to make sure our 17.5% remains or increases.
       
    • This year we are encouraging the government to consider expanding the credit to 25% to create a more even playing field with Ontario and Quebec. BC has additional benefits like world class talent, a vibrant ecosystem, and a highly desirable climate. Even so, our growth has been tempered by a moderate tax credit.
       
    • We hope to support studios who are expanding in areas outside of Vancouver and Victoria. Regional diversification is good for industry and good for the province. We are encouraging government to consider a 5% increase to studios who are expanding in these areas.
       
    • Recent research by ESAC indicates that our rate of including women in the video game industry is lagging behind other Canadian hubs. We are asking government to create a 5% diversity incentive bump up to the IDMTC available to studios hiring women and others who have historically experienced barriers.
       
    • Lastly, we are asking government to consider a 5% small/medium studio incentive for studios that have under 100 employees. These studios are particularly feeling the pinch with larger entities like Amazon drawing talent.

     

    If you are a BC Interactive Digital Media studio and are not yet a member, please consider supporting our efforts by becoming a member now.

     Join Now

     


    Representation @ Industry Events


    Girls in Esports Camp [October 26]

    Executive Director, Brenda Bailey participated in the first ever Girls in Games Esports Camp on October 26 that was put on by Adamas Esports and sponsored by Logitech. This was held at the EA Vancouver campus and she presented on the opportunities available in video games, animation and VFX to a room full of 50 keen girls.

     

    Reboot Develop Red 2019 Conference [October 30 to November 1]

    Executive Director, Brenda Bailey attended Reboot Develop Red in Banff, AB. The conference is the first one in North America, moving the high-end boutique brand from one event per year in Dubrovnik to two. Approximately 500 game developers attended, mostly from Canada and California, with some Europeans. Additionally, the conference had an AR/VR track sponsored by Oculus, who also hosted the closing party.

     

    Girls STEAM Institute at NASA [November 8-10]

    Executive Director, Brenda Bailey had the opportunity to present on the creative technology sector at the Girls in STEAM Institute at NASA’s Ames Research Centre (San Jose, CA). The Institute is focused on exposing teen girls to opportunities in STEAM and guest lecturers included Kate Edwards (Executive Director, Global Game Jam), Ray Kurzweil (President/Founder, Kurzweil Enterprises), Dr. Carly Kocurek (Associate Professor, Illinois Institute of Technology), and Megan Gaiser (formerly of Microsoft and Her Interactive).

     

  • 22 Nov 2019 by DigiBC


    The Entertainment Software Association of Canada released its 2019 economic impact study – The Canadian Video Game Industry 2019. The study was carried out by third-party research firm Nordicity, and it explores and highlights industry growth and contributions to Canada’s economy. As the voice of Canada’s video game industry, ESAC serves its membership by engaging with government, public, and policy stakeholders across the country and abroad.

    The Canadian Video Game Industry 2019 looks at our industry through five lenses: economic impact, size and structure, geography, employment impact, and workforce. Canada’s video game industry is well-positioned for continued growth; in the last two years, the number of Canadian video game companies increased by 16%, to 692 active studios. The industry contributed $4.5 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2019; and, supports an estimated 48,000 Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) of employment including 27,700 FTEs directly employed by video game companies.
     

    “While companies are thriving in Canada’s strong video game development sector, our industry continues to sit at the centre of an innovation ecosystem that is driving growth in Canada’s Digital Economy.”, said Jayson Hilchie, President & CEO of ESAC. “With many of the world’s biggest franchises driving strong job growth in this country, our industry will continue to punch above its weight and lead the world in the development of exciting and innovative digital entertainment.”


    Our research is intended to provide insights into industry growth as well as context for policymakers and legislators. In support of this mandate, ESAC has profiled industry professionals to provide an insider’s look at exciting talent opportunities and innovations across the country.

    We are pleased to invite audiences to view video profiles from five studios Other Ocean Interactive, Ubisoft, EIDOS-Montréal, EA-Bioware, and Kabam. These studios are known for creating iconic Triple-A games, and now we want to you to meet the people behind those games and learn about how they are advancing our industry and growing the game.

     

     

     

    For further information, please contact:
    Corinne Crichlow

    Director, Communications & Public Relations
    ccrichlow@theESA.Ca
    (416) 620-7171

     

  • 20 Nov 2019 by DigiBC

    DigiMusic @ BCMEA Conference [October 25/26]

    DigiBC had a booth and participated at this year’s BC Music Educators' Association (BCMEA) Conference in Richmond. The event hosts music educators from around the province and was an ideal place to promote DigiMusic 2020. Zoltan Virag, DigiMusic Advisory Board Lead, presented on how to use the online resources and the great materials that were created for DigiMusic 2019. We also shared highlights from this year's program and collected contact info from attendees who were keen to get on the mailing list for DigiMusic 2020.

     

     

    Launch of IndigiGeeks [November 27]

    DigiBC will launch our new program, IndigiGeeks, in Nanaimo on November 27 at the Tsawalk Indigenous High School. Learners will be taken through the creation of a simple video game in Game Maker, and we have three volunteers from 81monkeys who will be introducing basic game design concepts . Tsawalk opened in 2016 as a partnership between Vancouver Island West School District, Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre, Mid-Island Métis Nation and the Boys and Girls Club of Central Vancouver Island, to help students who aren’t finding success in traditional high schools to reconnect with education. Learn more about Tsawalk here - https://www.tsawalk.com/

     

  • 19 Nov 2019 by DigiBC

    Atomic Cartoons was founded in 1999 by former Studio B Production colleagues, Trevor Bentley, Olaf Miller and Rob Davies, along with Mauro Casalese. One day, Davies received a call from Sunwoo Entertainment to help produce Milo's Bug Quest. He brought Bentley, Miller, and Casalese into the fray and the four friends soon decided to venture out on their own and create Atomic Cartoons. A lot has changed over the years but three of the four founders are still with the company, and things really ramped up in 2011 when Jennifer Twiner McCarron was brought on as Head of Development. In 2014, Atomic Cartoons was acquired by Thunderbird Entertainment Group and shortly after Jenn was named President and CEO (2016), and then CEO for Thunderbird (2018). There's been a number of new and exciting things happening at the studio since then, so we recently caught up with Atomic's HR Manager, Colin Beadle, to find out the details.

    What projects are you currently working on? 

    We are currently working on additional episodes of our own IP series The Last Kids on Earth for Netflix. We also produced the recently premiered 101 Dalmatian Street and Donald Duck and the Three Caballeros for the new Disney+ streaming platform, as well as Hello Ninja for Netflix which is based on the popular kid’s book by N.D. Wilson.  In addition, our animated film, Curious George: Royal Monkey, recently premiered on NBCUniversal and Hulu. It’s always fun to bring a classic like Curious George back for new generations to enjoy!

    In development, we have Princesses Wear Pants, an animated series based on Savannah Guthrie’s New York Times Bestselling book series of the same name. It is being produced in collaboration with Drew Barrymore’s production company, Flower Films. Centered around the wide-ranging adventures of the courageous and thoughtful Princess Penelope Pineapple and her friends, the series encourages children to be brave, ambitious, and unafraid to make a difference in the world.

    We are also developing an animated series based on the tokidoki’s Mermicornos line.  Based on an original concept by tokidoki’s founder Simone Legno, the comedy-adventure series will follow a team of Mermicornos as they set out to stop an evil force determined to take over their world. Much like tokidoki itself, the animated series will be centered on exploration, discovery and self-belief. It will be up to these fearless Mermicornos to overcome the odds and their differences to bring peace across all of the sea.

     

    How many shows has Atomic produced? Which of these are you most proud of?

    Atomic has produced approximately 50 series and films over the years, and we are proud of every single one. Recent favourites include The Last Kids on Earth and 101 Dalmatian Street. Our series Beat Bugs won two Daytime Emmy Awards, so naturally we are extremely proud of that too.

    Another recent series we are very proud of is Molly of Denali, which has been recognized in the United States as the first nationally distributed kids show to feature an Indigenous lead character. As a company seeking to make a positive difference in the world, we are thrilled with how global audiences are embracing Molly, and how it encourages kids of all ages to recognize just how much we have in common, despite different cultures, religions or places we live.  Between 2004 and 2008, we produced a series called Atomic Betty. Many credit that production as our studio’s fully original creation, and it definitely served as our mascot for a few years. And, of course, we would be remiss to not mention our studio’s very first series Milo’s Bug Quest. The first will always hold a special place in our heart.

     

    How would you describe your company culture and what sets your studio apart from others?

    Atomic’s team is made up of industry veterans and emerging talent at all levels. We take making cartoons very seriously, and we believe it’s important to challenge ourselves and push the boundaries. However, that doesn’t mean we are pushy in the traditional sense. We are an artist-driven company that understands that mistakes can happen despite the best of efforts. By creating a company where our employees do not work under fear of failure, we cultivate a collaborative team where people are able to be their most creative. We also offer ‘Bagel Tuesdays’ and all the gourmet coffee you can drink.

     


    Has Atomic won any awards or received any accolades?

    At the 2019 Daytime Emmy Awards, our series Beat Bugs won for Outstanding Sound Mixing in a Preschool Animated Program. We also won a Daytime Emmy for this series in 2017, alongside an AACTA Award for Best Children’s Television Series.  In 2016, Beat Bugs won an AWGIE Award in animation.


    Are there any other interesting facts about Atomic we may not know about?

    Our company is growing really quickly. We currently employ 600 in Vancouver and we opened a second studio in Ottawa in December 2018. By June 2020, we expect that Atomic will employ more than 750 people between both facilities. It’s exciting to be part of a company that is growing so quickly but always remaining true to its artist-driven culture.

    We are currently developing a merchandise line based on our owned-IP for the Last Kids on Earth with Jakks Pacific and Cyber Group Studios, which is scheduled to launch in 2020. The line will include action figures, games, plus toys and much more. We are also working on a Last Kids video game with Outright Games, scheduled for a 2021 release. It’s pretty exciting that we will soon see kids of all ages playing with action figures inspired by our work, not to mention gamers gaming with our characters.  And yes, we will be playing with both at work from time to time!

    On Princesses Wear Pants, we actually landed the deal to collaborate with Savannah Guthrie and Drew Barrymore over DreamWorks, so that’s also pretty cool. While the series is still in development, we are very excited to bring the adventures of Princess Penelope Pineapple to girls and boys around the world.

    We also proudly support students’ interest in animation and encourage all those interested to join the industry. In November, we announced a new $30,000 grant to increase access to the 2D and 3D animation programs at Capilano University in North Vancouver.  Starting this fall, the annual ‘Atomic Cartoons Entrance Scholarship’ will award two incoming high schoolers with $5,000 apiece to help cover costs related to their respective programs at CapU.

     

    Are you currently hiring? If so, what are the open positions?

    We are currently hiring for many positions in both Vancouver and Ottawa. These include multiple roles in animation and design, plus other positions such CG modeling and software development. Our Los Angeles Office is also looking to fill a senior desktop support position. To stay up to date on what roles we are looking to fill, please visit: http://atomiccartoons.com/careers/

     

     


    Colin Beadle, HR Manager, Atomic Cartoons

    Colin Beadle has been with Atomic for the past four years and working in HR for the past two years. In 1999 he started as a CG animator and then moved into television/game production. His love of animation and games has given him the opportunity to work at studios such as Disney Interactive, Titmouse Inc, and Lucasfilm Animation.

     

  • 14 Nov 2019 by DigiBC

    We held our ‘Legal 101 for Video Games’ symposium on November 6 in the Hangar at the Centre for Digital Media. This was an exclusive event we offered to our members and it gave them the opportunity to learn from leading lawyers and advisors practicing in the Vancouver video game industry. The panel featured Karam Bayrakal (Fasken), Ryan Black (McMillan) and a number of their colleagues who presented a half-day interactive session that explored the risks and opportunities created by the rapid legal changes in games. It also covered an assortment of essential topics such as employment and game regulation, immigration, tie ups, cybersecurity, data protection and privacy, investments, and patents. The panel ended with a keynote from Dr Tyler Black MD, who gave an interesting presentation on video game violence, the questionable construct of "addiction", the science of "loot boxes" and "problem gaming", and the impending regulatory effect of WHO gaming addiction classifications. We then capped off the day with an informal ‘beer & bevvies’ reception for the attendees and speakers. Huge thanks to Fasken and McMillan for hosting and sponsoring the event!

     

  • 13 Nov 2019 by DigiBC

    Join a cohort of Indigenous digital creators and attend the Game Developers Conference (GDC) next March.


    The imagineNATIVE GDC Scholarship Program is an opportunity for Indigenous game designers and digital creators from around the world to receive a free Conference + Summits Pass to GDC. Indigenous creators residing in any country are welcome to apply.  Join thousands of industry peers in exchanging ideas and shaping the future of the industry. Held at the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, the GDC spans five days of lectures, panels, and roundtable discussions.

     

    Apply for GDC Scholarship

    Applications close November 30th. Successful applicants will be notified by December 11th. Inquiries can be directed to mbyrne@imaginenative.org

     

  • 12 Nov 2019 by DigiBC

    We'll be kicking off 2020 with our next F*ckup Nights event. This will be taking place on January 23 and we are currently looking for speakers to add to the lineup. If you have a failure story that you would like to share then we would love to hear from you! Please email us at team@digibc.org for more info. 

     

  • 04 Nov 2019 by DigiBC

    DigiBC welcomes Sam Fisher, Tim Teh, Jeanne-Marie Owens, Sarah Nathanson, Sara Maseko, and Nick Facey. Many thanks to outgoing board directors, Eric Jordan, Ryan Peterson, Karen Randhawa and Tim Bennison for their contributions to DigiBC.



    Sarah Nathanson is General Counsel at Thunderbird and Atomic Cartoons where she provides legal and business affairs support to both the production crew and the corporate team. She has more than 12 years of experience in entertainment law, both in private practice and in-house. Sarah was previously Director, Business & Legal Affairs at DHX Media ad has worked on numerous productions from development and production, through to licensing and merchandise opportunities. Sarah currently sits on the BC Branch Council of the Canadian Media Producers Association and is a Vice-Chair of the Animation and Visual Effects Alliance of BC.


     

    Jeanne-Marie Owens is the VP of Operations at Phoenix Labs, the Vancouver-based game development studio behind the hit free-to-play action-RPG, Dauntless. Jeanne was the first non-founder team member at the studio and has led hiring, HR, and operations as it has grown from a small start-up to a 100 person studio across three locations. She cares deeply about ensuring that working in the games industry is a positive and fulfilling experience for her teammates, and has focused on diversity and inclusion improvements and education for the studio. She hopes to help add perspective on that topic to the Vancouver games industry as a whole through her work with DigiBC. Prior to Phoenix Labs, Jeanne-Marie started her career at BioWare in Edmonton and then moved to Vancouver in 2011 to work at EA Canada.  

     

    Hyper Hippo is an entertainment company connecting people around the world through fun!  Sam Fisher has overseen the growth of Hyper Hippo to include teams in Kelowna, Vancouver, and Seattle.  Hyper Hippo created the AdVenture brand, including the hit mobile games AdVenture Capitalist and AdVenture Communist. Sam lives in Kelowna, where he enjoys sports, music, and time with his family.

     

     

    Sara Maseko is a CPA currently working as the Controller for SkyBox Labs. She’s spent 14 years continuously developing skills and expertise in accounting and finance, previously working freelance as well as in public practice. As a Vancouver native, Sara loves to be involved in her community and is excited in her board appointment to be able to participate in DigiBC’s continued growth.  

     

     
     

    Tim Teh is the Founder and CEO of Kano, a Victoria, BC-based indie game developer. Building meaningful connections through social games, Kano has reached over 30 million players worldwide. Teh attributes Kano’s success to its hyper-focus on the customer and on building a values-driven organization around amazing talent.

     

     

    Nick Facey is currently the Senior Director of Innovation at Finger Food Advanced Technology Group and prior to that was Chief of Staff for the Minister of Innovation, Technology & Citizens' Services and the Ministry of Education.