New Capital Gaming Expo owner looks to power up Ottawa sector

An Ottawa-based marketing and events firm has has acquired Capital Gaming Expo (CGX), and the new owner is hoping to turn the annual event into a beacon for Ottawa’s burgeoning gaming sector.

Under former owner Ottawa Geek Market, the multiday convention had a broad appeal that targeted tabletop, card, role-playing, board and video game enthusiasts.

The Ottawa Geek Market was looking to focus on its successful trade show, which features vendors selling handicrafts and nerd paraphernalia. It sold its Game Summit to new owners Christian Gilbert and David Gagné, who will continue the traditional board game and tabletop gaming tournaments in the city, and approached Jillian Mood & Partners about acquiring CGX.

The company’s CEO, Jillian Mood, said she hopes to focus CGX more on high tech and gaming as well as turn the event into a hub for Canadian game development.

“I’ve really always wanted to run an event that was very inspiring for people who go, that brings together gamers and developers,” she says.

That inspiration will hopefully come in the form of success stories from developers who left established firms and started their own ventures, as well as letting attendees experience the Canadian tech being developed in virtual and augmented reality.

Ms. Mood started her company after working in a series of HR roles at gaming companies throughout Ottawa. She decided she could offer her services to multiple clients at once, and entered the market with a popular “startup package” that helped small gaming companies get their starts recruiting talent and building their brand.

The model was particularly successful in Ottawa, she says, where independent gaming companies (indies) are plentiful.

“There are so many new game studios popping up. Indie studios are where it’s at. They’re taking over the video game market,” Ms. Mood says. “The Ottawa market is full of successful indies … I love that feel.”

She mentions local companies such as Snowed In Studios, Steel Crate Games, Breakfall and Karman Interactive as examples of Ottawa successes that don’t get the attention they deserve.

“The one thing Ottawa is not doing well is talking about what great talent we have here. I think we’ve been too quiet about it, so I want to take over and help them talk about themselves.”

The talent in Ottawa is underrated, Ms. Mood adds. She’s surprised a major gaming studio hasn’t come to Ottawa to take advantage of the workforce here, but thinks that’s a distinct possibility in the near future.

The coming year will be big for Ottawa gaming, Ms. Mood says. In addition to her first iteration of CGX, the Canadian Video Game Awards are coming to the city, coinciding with Ottawa 2017 festivities. For JM&P, she’s hoping to expand her own external marketing efforts and grow her 10-person staff to as high as 20 people by year’s end.

“2017 is going to be massive, in Ottawa especially, for gaming. All of these things are coming together at the right time,” Ms. Mood says.

Capital Gaming Expo 2017 will be hosted at the Nepean Sportsplex April 1-2.