An Ottawa Games Conference May 29 will serve as a showcase for local talent as the industry works to fit itself inside of Invest Ottawa's plans for economic development.
Scott Simpson, co-CEO of Ascension Media and bitHeads. (Provided)
Scott Simpson, the founder of bitHeads, says the aim is to attract 500 people to the conference, which will be held at the Ottawa Convention Centre and is expected to run annually and is in its inaugural year.
Ottawa is a perfectly valid "secondary market" to the gaming stalwarts of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, he said.
"We're trying to remind everyone in Ottawa that we have a gaming community, and it has been growing over the years, and it's bigger than it ever has been."
The conference will also serve as a way to show local officials – including those in Invest Ottawa, who are providing some support – what the gaming industry is capable of.
There have been discussions afoot for years to build in Ottawa a dedicated production space for movies and related industries. In January, the city appointed Geneviève Ménard Hayles to lead a new city-led film, television and digital office replacing the old Ottawa-Gatineau Film and Television Development Corp.
Mr. Simpson said Playbrains, whose parent company bitHeads acquired last year, is already working on movie tie-ins including games and post-production, and that it would be a natural fit for gaming to be included in the studio as well. Recent projects include Blood and Glory and Neuromancer.
"We're working pretty closely with Wesley Clover to figure out where's the sweet spot to merge a lot of entertainment and technology together."
Some confirmed speakers
- Gabe Zichermann, author of the book Game-Based Marketing;
- Pete Nofelt, Foursquare, on location-based gaming;
- Local: Scott Simpson at Playbrains, John Criswick at Magmic, Mike Burns at Fuel Industries, JS Sourmay at SnowedIn;
- Ontario: Gavriel State at Transgaming, Frederick Lilligren at Antic Entertainment;
- Montreal: Jason Della Roca at Perimeter Partners, Patrick Plourde at Ubisoft Montreal, Gabriel Leblanc at Eidos Montreal;
- UK: Ernest Adams at International Hobo, David Nicholson at Power Challenge;
- Publisher panel with publishers from California, Toronto, etc. on the changing face of gaming (names still to be determined.)