Ottawa gaming conference doubles in size

Courtney Symons
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“It’s going to be different, bigger, badder and all that good stuff,” said bitHeads president and CEO Scott Simpson when asked how the Ottawa International Game Conference will compare to last year’s inaugural event.

Scott Simpson, co-CEO of Ascension Media and bitHeads. (Provided)

Mr. Simpson is one of the founding members of the gaming conference, which debuted last year as a one-day event that drew slightly more than 400 attendees.

This year, two days of keynotes and guest speakers from around the globe as well as a full-day development workshop series will likely draw about 800 guests – many of them from out of town – to the conference hosted at the Ottawa Convention Centre from May 29 to 31.  

Guest speakers will include Anders Jeppsson, head of gaming at BlackBerry, as well as many local developers.

“If it’s anything like last year, which it will be, virtually the entirety of the Ottawa games industry will be there,” Mr. Simpson said.

The conference will showcase 15 apps developed by local high school students as part of the Ottawa Network for Education’s AppJam competition. A total of 46 Ottawa students in grades 10 to 12 submitted their apps for consideration.

Those apps range from educational games to the development of a new programming code, said Maria Smirnoff, manager of, an initiative aiming to give students the opportunity to pursue careers in IT and tech professions.

The winners of the competition, to be announced at the conference, will be awarded scholarships from the University of Ottawa and cash prizes from gaming sponsors, some of which will be recruiting summer students from the batch as well.

“The reality is, our world is getting a lot more digital,” Ms. Smirnoff said. “The ability to not only use technology but create it is becoming essential. It’s no longer just an asset.”

Some sessions at the conference will be geared towards students; others towards consumers, businesses or developers.

Last year, the goal of the conference was to gain experience and prove that Ottawa has enough activity to generate a gaming event.

“What we did with the show last year was more of a credibility thing, (to show that) it wasn’t just two guys in a garage,” Mr. Simpson said.

This year, it’s about showcasing Ottawa’s gaming prowess on an international level, and Mr. Simpson said the conference will continue to be an annual local event.

Beefed-up marketing efforts for OIGC2013 include a comedic music video showing some (presumably) gamers frustrated with crappy games.

A full lineup of events and more information is available on the conference’s website.

Organizations: Ottawa Convention Centre, Ottawa Network for Education, University of Ottawa

Geographic location: Ottawa

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