Video: Breaking down the growth in Ottawa’s gaming sector

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Indies, broken games, girl gamers and Google – this week’s Techopia Live dug into Ottawa gaming’s hottest topics.

Jillian Mood, the new owner of Capital Gaming Expo, joined Jean-Sylvain Sormany of Snowed In Studios, Jason Nuyens of Breakfall and host Carlo Lombard to talk about the local gaming sector’s strengths and weaknesses, and to tee up some of the biggest video game events in the city in 2017.

In addition to taking on CGX this year, Mood runs the Google Developer Groups and is on the board of the Canada Video Games Awards (in Ottawa this year!). She said that one of the major strengths of the local sector is the prevalence of independent studios in the absence of major developers such as Ubisoft in Montreal.

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“We have such a strong indie community, it’s insane,” she said.

Sormany said the best thing Ottawa game developers can do is to interact with that community. He says the stereotypical image of a developer shuttered away in a basement somewhere making their game is counterproductive to how great gaming sectors are built.

“The social skills you need to be a game entrepreneur, a game maker, are much higher than you would think initially,” he said.

Both Mood and Nuyens talked about the importance of breaking stereotypes that women aren’t involved in gaming.

“‘Video gaming, it’s teenage boys playing in the basement!’ That’s not what it is! Fifty per cent of gamers are women!” Mood said.

She and Nuyens are a part of Girl Force, an Ottawa non-profit that helps girls learn game development skills. Nuyens says it’s crucial to improve gender representation in the industry, including those who identify as transgendered and non-binary.

Nuyens also gave his advice on finding your own success in gaming, mentioning the market for watching gamers as a rapidly expanding opportunity that developers should be thinking about.

And you think a future for gaming is in your cards, he had advice for that too: Just start, and don’t stop.

“You can be incredibly talented, and smart as you need to be, but you also need to be incredibly persistent in going after your goals,” he said.

Mood ended the discussion by talking about her involvement in bringing Google Development Groups to Ottawa. The biweekly sessions, held at the Innovation Centre, are an opportunity for local developers to get hands-on instruction in VR technology like Google Daydream.

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