2019 was a year of significant growth and revitalization for DigiBC. We continued to expand our main focuses by implementing education initiatives, building the creative tech community in the province, and working with government partners to ensure BC is a place where creative tech companies can carry on succeeding. We summarize this as our three pillars: Government Relations, Education & Programming, and Community Building.
We welcomed six new directors to our board [DigiBC BoD] bringing the total to 14. These individuals bring a broad range of business skills to the table and represent what is great about the creative technology industry in BC. With representation from Victoria, Kelowna, and Vancouver, we will continue to grow the sector throughout the entire province. Moreover, we are proud that the Board is now comprised of 36% female leaders. As creative technology continues to expand in diversity, DigiBC is delighted to lead by example.
Our member companies are characterized by the balance of creative and technology roles within their organizations, blending cutting-edge technology with artistic and creative genius to bring stories, worlds, and experiences to life on digital devices for an ever-increasing number of consumers around the globe. Thanks to BC’s rich history of video game development, animation and VFX, the province is becoming a hotbed for AR/VR/MR development across multiple sectors.
Pillar 1: Government Relations
DigiBC was responsible for the introduction of the Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (IDMTC) in 2009, and once again spent a great deal of time engaged with the provincial government to help educate, guide and inform on the importance of the credit to the stability and growth of our sector. We delivered our IDMTC recommendations and continue to be engaged in a series of ongoing consultations with multiple ministries across government in the run-up to the budget February 18, 2020. Our key asks include:
A 5% Regional diversification for studios that are located in or expanding to areas outside of Vancouver and Victoria.
A 5% diversity incentive bump up to the IDMTC available to studios hiring women, individuals with disabilities and indigenous people, ie. groups who have historically experienced barriers.
A 5% small/medium studio incentive for studios that have fewer than 100 employees.
Our role in the ecosystem is now clear, and we are developing closer cooperation with organizations such as Creative BC, MPPIA, and BC Tech, all of whom contribute to the success of our creative technology companies in various ways. But we understand that the Creative Technology sector has unique characteristics, opportunities, and challenges that demand a distinct voice.
Pillar 2: Education & Programming
We know that the video game, animation & VFX sectors will not continue to grow without securing the talent we need now and into the future. As such, we have been working to raise awareness of creative technology in the province, increasing the knowledge young people have about opportunities in our industry, and enhancing skills in high school students while teaching them about our sectors. 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 is working to expand Play to Learn to 60+ 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 and close the skills gap. We see teaching kids about video game creation as an access point to learning about tech generally.
Executive Director Brenda Bailey led a panel of successful young creatives at the #BCTECHSummit Youth Innovation Day. Attended by 800-1,000 high school student the panelists spoke about how they found their way into creative tech, what their backgrounds are, where they trained, what they wished they knew when they were 16 and what a “day in the life” looks like for programmers, game designers, producers, filmmakers, and emerging leaders. Students were engaged and excited to learn about creative technology as a potential future career.
DigiMusic introduced students across British Columbia to the possibilities of music composition in digital media and animation through a province-wide competition and celebration of talent. Designed to expose students, parents, and educators to the excellent careers in the creative tech industry, students learned about the scope and size of exciting intellectual properties that are being created right here in the province. DigiMusic engaged with more than 3,800 students and our Career Pathways videos told a powerful message welcoming students into the creative technology industry. The videos were all created with a race and gender lens, ensuring that diversity and inclusion was subtly communicated.
IndigiGeeks was piloted in Nanaimo on November 27 at the Tsawalk Indigenous High School. Learners were taken through the creation of a simple video game in Game Maker, and we had three volunteers from 81monkeys who introduced basic game design concepts. DigiBC is currently looking for funding for this program designed to transition indigenous youth from consumers to creators of video games.
Digi on the Road took industry professionals out into rural and remote BC classrooms to introduce kids directly to folks working in the Creative Technology sector, as well as share our stories and passion for our industry. We used this as a gateway to introduce schools to Play to Learn. This year it took place from September 15-20th and we travelled to Prince Rupert, Sicamous (North Okanagan) and Campbell River. From the border with Alaska to the border with Alberta, DigiBC worked with middle school youth to explore how creative technology is created. Teachers in Campbell River sent in student comments following the workshop that was delivered to their classes from Stephane Cotichini (CEO, 81monkeys Game Studio), Brenda Bailey (Executive Director, DigiBC and former CEO, Silicon Sisters & COO, Deep Fried Entertainment), and Jonathan Gerlach from Everfi.
We also know we can no longer afford to leave people out of our workforce. Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are important ways to not only to have more diverse perspectives and creative ideas in our studios but also to enhance our talent pool. As such, DigiBC and Women in Animation collaborated to implement Diversity & Inclusion leadership training sessions and put together an industry-wide survey. The information gathered is helping us gauge where things currently are at in BC's creative tech sector and seeing what we can do to grow it going forward.
Pillar 3: Community Building
2019 saw DigiBC provide numerous opportunities for folks in the industry to get together. We strive to provide career and business development opportunities for our members. Sometimes it can be around a particular issue, such as financing, legal for video games, eSports or creating original IP. Occasionally, it can be just for laughs (like our Rock*Paper*Scissors tournament + comedy show events) and once in a while it is designed to help people network with their peers. We have also recently partnered with the Reveal Events Group to co-produce the F*ckup Nights Vancouver events which are geared towards the creative tech, tech and entrepreneur sectors. We want to get rid of the stigma of failure as this is a part of reaching success and we can learn from our mistakes as a community. Entrepreneurs suffer from higher rates of depression and suicide than other occupations, and sharing our challenges in a safe environment is designed to fight this isolation.
DigiBC 2019 Events
01.24 - State of the Union: Creating Original IP in BC
02.06 - Rock*Paper*Scissors Comedy Tournament + Networking Mixer
04.04 - Inclusive Leadership Training
04.06 - Inclusive Leadership Training
04.13 - Inclusive Leadership Training
04.17 - Financing Panel
05.01 - Creative Industries Week
06.03 - DigiMusic Celebration of Talent
06.11 - Time Factory Presentation
06.19 - RPS Comedy Tournament + Networking Mixer
07.25 - eSports Screening & Panel
08.14 - Summer BBQ + Patio Networking Mixer
09.24 - F*ckup Nights Vancouver vol.2
10.22 - RPS Comedy Tournament + Networking Mixer
11.06 - Legal Symposium
In closing, we would like to thank all our members and sponsors for their ongoing support and participation. We also encourage you, if you’re reading this and are not already a DigiBC member or you have let your membership lapse, to sign up or renew. Together we are stronger, so join us as we continue to grow this fabulous creative tech sector in the province. We work day in and day out on your behalf. For example, if you file an IDMTC, you benefit from our efforts. Without DigiBC’s ongoing government relations work, this tax credit would very likely not have been renewed past it’s sunset clause August 2018. Please support us to ensure a healthy future for our industry.
Events & Marketing Manager