Game conference gets tips on attracting talent, funding

Attracting talent and capital are common issues for Ottawa businesses, and the gaming industry is no exception, the Ottawa International Game Conference heard this week.

By Marc Shaw

A panel Monday at the Mercury Lounge discussed funding opportunities available to studios, like the Scientific Research and Experimental Development tax incentive.

“I want to turn what you don’t know that you don’t know into something you know,” said Mobile Capital Network financial practice lead Alexei Gavriline, who explained that SRED is a federal and provincial program which could help studios meet requirements to receive up to 60 per cent of the salary paid to employees back as a tax credit.

There was a distinct focus on making game studios see the government as another customer with needs. Employee tax credits allow studios to actually hire people instead of contracting freelancers.

Stephane Beniak, a game designer at Montreal’s Double Stallion Games, told a panel at Real Sports that recruiting is more than “going fishing in candidate lake” and hoping for a bite.

“You probably have a limited amount of time and a limited amount of money but you can make up for that by being smart about it,” said Mr. Beniak.

Hiring interns is a way to do it, he said. Not only is it cheap labour, thanks to government subsidies, but it is a great way to take talent on a test drive to see if there’s a good permanent fit.

Kate Edwards, executive director of the International Game Developers Association, also delivered a keynote address, with a focus on the difference between games as art and games as business.

She explained the hoops developers have to go through in order to actually make money.

Localization is something that cannot be overlooked by indie studios trying to turn their local product into a global one, she said, adding that studios must take other countries’ cultures into consideration when marketing their games.