Blogs

  • 16 Jul 2020 by DigiBC

    COVID-19 Response: The Interactive Digital Media Sector

    I describe the state of the creative technology industry during COVID-19 as... the best of times and the worst of times. Like the Charles Dickens reference to London and Paris in a Tale of Two Cities. With our consumers being compelled to spend more time at home, the market for digital content has increased, as well as the opportunity to sell back catalogues and finding new players and viewers for our products. For the most part, video game creators are just as busy, if not busier than prior to COVID-19.  New Zoo reports that mobile games sales are up 13.3% YOY, for example. However, this is not the whole story. While most video game studios are “full steam ahead”, some studios have experienced a decrease in business development opportunities, largely due to spring biz dev events such as GDC being cancelled. It looks like this has a larger impact on newer studios, as one might expect. How do you show your prototype or game to publishers and investors during a pandemic?

    In a recent Nordicity study, Canadian IDM companies were asked to report on their fiscal runways (that is, their ability to cover costs should no new business arrive). Overall, the industry estimated an average of just four months of runway, with micro and small companies hit the hardest.

     

    Source: Canada's interactive digital media sector in the COVID-19 pandemic  April 2020

     

    With many large video game conferences and tradeshows postponed or having pivoted to an online format for the foreseeable future, the opportunity for Canadian developers to network with publishers, investors and partners, and establish the business relationships that lead to new work has virtually disappeared. This is true across the country, and DigiBC has banned together with La Guilde du jeu vidéo du Québec (La Guilde), Interactive Ontario (iO), Video Games PEI, the Interactive Society of Nova Scotia (ISNS), New Media Manitoba (NMM), Sask Interactive, and Digital Alberta under the banner of the Canadian Interactive Alliance / Alliance Interactive de Canada (CIAIC). The National grouping has fought to assist studios who are having difficulty in two ways.

    1. We are advocating at a national level to ensure that the second allotment of funding for IDM companies is distributed in a way that reaches more of them. The first allotment of emergency funding distributed through the CMF targeted studios that had received CMF funding in the last three years. While helpful for those studios who received it, we argue that there are many smaller studios worthy of cash assistance to get them through the economic downturn who are not CMF clients, particularly in regions that are less well served by CMF, such as BC. As a result of our efforts, an additional $10M is allotted to these IDM studios, and we are working with Heritage Canada and the CMF on a distribution model.
       
    2. We have secured funding to put on a Canada-wide online business development event, Canada Games Online 2020, and are currently in the planning stages. This will be a first-of-its-kind event providing Canadian video game companies an online forum to showcase their development capabilities and independently held IP, and explore opportunities for new work. The conference will consist of the following activities: Market Plus and Connect: A B2B Meeting Ground

    • July 2020: A series of webinars will provide participating developers with presentation training and market updates to develop their pitches to potential publishers, partners and investors. Webinars will be produced specifically for the event and provide curated content relevant to the participating developers.
       
    • August 2020: The Market Plus model builds on the success of La Caravane, an annual training program for the video game industry in Quebec. It will provide guidance on tailoring pitch material for different audiences and needs, along with current international market perspectives to inform game development strategy.
       
    • September 2020: Participating developers will have the opportunity to engage directly with international publishers, partners, and investors over two days of 1:1 meetings. Using the enhanced B2B event networking service, MeetToMatch, companies will be connected based on shared goals and desired outcome.

     

    More details on the events to follow in the coming weeks, but we are delighted to create these offering and to attract publishers and investors interested in our incredibly talented Canadian video game sector!


    ~ Brenda Bailey, Executive Director, DigiBC

     


    Data Please!

    We all know that data is king, queen, and the whole royal contingency, but this is true more than ever in during this pandemic. Our government partners rely on us to collect data on our industry so that we might provide briefings based on fact, not conjecture. DigiBC is well placed to provide this data.

    • We are part way through a large Sector Labour Market Research (SLMP) project looking at the creative technology labour and education ecosystem in BC.
       
    • We are also collecting data on how COVID-19 has impacted IDM studios, and send a huge thank you to all who are participating. For those who are not - please do! This is a pivotal time for our sector, and showing resiliency during a pandemic while illustrating where we can grow and help the province create jobs and stability is key. Whether you are a member or not, we invite you to participate for the benefit of our sector. Contact us for further info.
       
    • It is quite possible that those who have lost jobs in one sector may be able to retrain and move into our sector, given that we are still hiring and our talent shortage is real. Are you starting to hire folks from other sectors as a result of COVID-19? If so, I’d love to hear about! How is it working? How is the up-skilling going? Which carryover skills did you prioritize? Email brenda@digibc.org.

     
    ~ Brenda Bailey, Executive Director, DigiBC

     


    Animation and VFX Alliance of BC News (DigiBC & MPPIA partnership)

    As government moves into the early stages of the BC Restart Plan: Phase 3, and the industry moves toward working from the studio again, the Animation & VFX Alliance of BC is pleased to share their COVID-19 Return to Studio Guide.

    This guide was created this to provide information and resources that can be tailored to each unique animation and visual effects studio, as part of its commitment to the reopening of safe and resilient studios in BC. We recognize the top priority is the continued well-being of people working in the A&VFX industry, and this guide has been developed with that priority at its core. It is also aligned with government policies and WorkSafeBC standards to ensure studios can provide for the safety, security, health and well-being of employees.

    We have encouraged studio leaders of both member and non-member companies and their teams to use this guide in conjunction with trusted government-based resources, as they develop their COVID-19 safe working plans. We want the guide to provide a sense of reassurance for employees within our industry, and invite studios to share the guide with their employees through various ways such as, intranet, email and noticeboards.

    Finally, the Alliance would like to give a shout out to the member studios who came together in May/June with the intention of providing an industry-specific guide, supporting studios large and small in BC, in these unprecedented times. This guide would not have come about without this great example of BC studios collaborating.

    Please click here to contact the Alliance.
     

  • 11 Jul 2020 by DigiBC


    Gasket Games is a Vancouver-based video game studio that was founded in early 2018 by Jeff Lydell, Karl Schmidt, Carolina Ellis and Matt Kuzminski. All of the directors have extensive backgrounds in video games and tech having previously worked at Blackbird Interactive, Relic, Capcom, DeNA, Mobify, and Plenty of Fish. The studio is dedicated to producing online games that use innovative matchmaking and streaming technologies, and they strive to create new titles that will unite players around the world. We recently spoke with Carolina to find out what’s been happening at the studio, what’s on the horizon and how they have been adapting and working through the COVID-19 pandemic.

     

     

    How would you describe your company culture?
    One of our early employees coined the term “Gasketeer” and that has stuck with us ever since! It’s a great example of how the employees are active contributors to the company environment. Building a new company and new products required a high degree of adaptability from our team, and we hired for these qualities. We believe that making great games is a team effort and that it requires close collaboration. We know that the health of our teams outweighs someone's individual contribution and we have no tolerance for toxic behaviour. We are also a learning organization, so everyone continues to hone their craft individually and learn from each other as well.

    As an owner-operated company of 35 staff, we are able to share information quickly and openly. We have weekly studio updates where we talk about what’s happening in our games and studio.  


    What would you say sets Gasket Games apart from other studios?

    The people and original projects that we are working on are what set us apart. The people who choose to come and work with us understand that making a game is not just about collecting a pay cheque. As a fairly new studio in Vancouver, we have chosen to share the studio's success with our employees by offering an Employee Shares Option Plan. 

    From the beginning we have been ambitious about what we’re able to achieve and the kinds of projects we want to work on. Just because we are currently a smaller studio doesn’t mean we can’t work on amazing projects. We will be announcing our first project later this year and we cannot wait to share it with the games community!

     

    What projects are you currently working on? 
    Currently we are working on two projects. The first is a licensed IP in collaboration with Focus Home Interactive and Games Workshop. This is the project that will be announced later this year. The second project is an original IP action RPG. 

     


    Are there any exciting facts about Gasket we may not know about? 

    When we first started Gasket Games we shared a Yaletown office space with a few other businesses. The other occupants of the space were a successful Venture Capitalist, a running app with great people and a fantastic dog, a guy who made topographic maps and a graphic design business. The space was small and had definitely had some quirks! There was a very loud A/C unit that would halt conversations mid-sentence and no kitchen facilities, other than a microwave and a water cooler. Moving from that space to our current 5,600 sq ft studio in Mount Pleasant was a welcome change, but the memories we made in the Yaletown location are priceless.


    How has Gasket adapted to WFH and working through the COVID-19 pandemic?

    Like most other studios, we have been predominantly working from home since March. We keep in touch through Slack, Google Hangouts, game nights, lunch hours, daily coffee hangouts, and our weekly studio update. Recently we provided all of our staff with care packages that contained items from local businesses that we used to enjoy at our studio and some swag as well. These care packages were personally delivered to each employee by our admin team. As for team growth, any new hires will start with us remotely and then transition to working back in the studio at a later date. 

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

    Check out our new website for all of our current openings: www.gasketgames.com

     

     

  • 02 Jul 2020 by DigiBC

    Are you a BC high school student looking for something to do over the summer? Do you love music, video games, and animation? DigiMusic Summer 2020 is in full swing and it’s free to register!

    DigiMusic is a music challenge that offers young musicians and composers a great opportunity to create an original piece of music for a video game or animated film clip that was made right here in British Columbia.

    There will be a series of music workshops via Google Meetups throughout July, taught by Corey Smith, who is the Director of Instrumental Music at Collingwood School. All workshops are free to attend (registration required), and aimed at students in grades 7 - 12. To sign up, head over to our event page: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/digimusic-summer-2020-workshops-tickets-110878809504

    WORKSHOPS AND DATES

    *All times are in PDT.

    Tuesday, 07.07 @ 1:30pm - Rhythm
    “What is the difference between rhythm and beat? How do I implement it in my composition?”
    Learn to create a wide variety of rhythms, from simple to complex, layered, and more, while thinking about the overall emotions you want to convey in your piece.

    Thursday, 07.09 @ 1:30pm - Tempo
    “What tempo works best for my piece?”
    Don’t miss a beat! Discover the importance of time signatures and experiment with changing tempos of your composition. Find out what BPM works best for the clip you are composing music for!

    Tuesday, 07.14 @ 1:30pm - Melody
    “How can I create a memorable theme?”
    Identify iconic motifs and learn what makes them memorable. Apply this to your own music, creating melodic phrases that lead the listener on a musical journey that tells a story.

    Thursday, 07.16 @ 1:30pm - Harmony
    “What chords will deliver the emotion I’m trying to convey?”
    Creating chord progressions and changing their sound can really affect how a scene is conveyed from an emotional standpoint! Learn how to build intensity, invoke calmness, or generate excitement when crafting harmonies.

    Tuesday, 07.21 @ 1:30pm - Texture/Timbre
    “What instruments will create the depth I’m looking for? And how many?”
    Differentiate between texture and timbre and how they can affect the richness or temperature of music. Discover what instruments will create the sound you’re looking for!

     

    Don’t forget to check out DigiMusic’s Challenge Clips before starting your composition! July 31st is the deadline for submissions, and we look forward to hearing your piece.

    Questions? Email us at education@digibc.org!