360 Video: Under new ownership, Capital Gaming Expo connects Ottawa gaming community

Capital Gaming Expo’s new owner hit the reboot on the event this past weekend, bringing Ottawa’s gaming community together with industry leaders from inside and outside of the city.

Owner Jillian Mood & Partners put on two days of programming, keeping two rooms full with gaming talks and panels throughout the weekend. More than 4,000 people attended over the weekend, and day one of the conference sold out, Mood says.

In one hall, for example, Ubisoft Montreal’s Jason Vanderberghe talked about his approach to simulating mass Viking warfare in For Honor, while on the other side of the wall Jason Nuyens discussed how to animate a character’s flaming sword using a technique called shaders.

In her first run at the reins of a gaming conference, Mood says her main goal was to share the local gaming sector’s successes and encourage others to get their start in the industry.

“I always had these ideas to do more inspiring things, do more entrepreneurial things,” she says.

A majority of the audience were people thinking of starting or had recently started their own studios, Mood says. She recalls meeting one man who shook her hand and thanked her for organizing a conference that provided the expertise he needed.

“He literally just started his own studio… He said ‘I was having such a hard time getting on my feet and knowing what steps to take. I really have my plan laid out for me now.’”

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Capital Gaming Expo table. Photo by Craig Lord.

Mood says one of the most successful events was the Connect Cafe, where hiring studios networked with local gaming talent. She says she’s heard of a few connections that have resulted in jobs.

“Ottawa’s talent is extremely passionate,” she says. “I think some of the studios from larger cities were really surprised by how much drive we have.”

Mood says she’s happy with the formula she used for her first CGX, but she’s hoping to bring more studios from across Canada attend next year’s iteration.

On the expo floor, attendees toured around art stands, storefronts and gaming stations. Four groups from Carleton University’s Business and Information Technology program setup demos of their class projects, including SkyPyre, a group that has been working on its action-platformer game for a year and intends to stay together as a company after graduation.

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A gamer pivots to hit a new target in a virtual reality shooter. Photo by Craig Lord.

The expo had a heavy focus on the emerging uses for virtual reality, with gamers getting the chance to experiment with headsets on the show floor.

Beyond gaming, Shopify’s head of VR Daniel Beauchamp, gave a talk about “the magical web,” and how virtual reality can mix with ecommerce. He described the ability to put on a headset and walk inside a tent, gauging the height and available size, without ever leaving your browser.

The year is not yet finished for big gaming events, as the Canadian Video Game Awards are slated to arrive on Nov. 18th. Ottawa 2017 executive director Guy Laflamme dropped by the conference to promote the event, which will include national gaming championship matches projected on the walls of Ottawa buildings.

Mood, who is also an adviser for the event, says the planning committee is looking at putting on a week of gaming events in the lead up to the awards show, including a one-day version of the Capital Gaming Expo at the Innovation Centre and other gaming initiative with industry leaders from across the country.