Top gaming, virtual reality studios come out to play at Victoria event

Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy

The province’s interactive entertainment industry lays itself bare today as DigiBC, the organization that represents B.C.’s digital media and wireless companies, presents Made in B.C. at the Victoria Conference Centre.

The one-day event will showcase some of the cutting-edge technology developed by the province’s top gaming studios and virtual-reality companies in the hope it will grab the attention of students and tech industry colleagues wondering where their career paths may lie.

Patrick Sauriol, executive director of DigiBC, said companies working in the interactive entertainment space want to let people know there are careers available and that it goes well beyond just video games.

“Video games become an entry point for young people,” he said, noting getting a taste for coding and programming because of video games can lead them into a variety of options.

“Video games really are a language to talk about technology, and it can bridge into a whole world of technology,” said Eric Jordan, chief executive of Codename Entertainment, one of the Victoria game studios that will be on display.

“This is reaching out to students and providing a way to engage them in learning to program and code.

“I would have loved that as a kid, learning about programming in the context of video games. We learn better when really engaged in material we’re taught and video games certainly engage kids.”

Sauriol also notes the companies want to show off some of their work on bringing coding to the classroom.

For example, Finger Food Studios from Coquitlam, which will be demonstrating today, developed an application to interact between smartphones and the Sphero robot toy — much like the BB-8 droid seen in the latest Star Wars movie — allowing people to control the toy.

“It’s drag and drop to [control the toy’s movements], and by just swiping the screen over they can see how drag and drop commands turn into coding.

“So the company put together a curriculum with teachers in Coquitlam and bought 180 of these devices and gave them to the schools and came up with a coding program for Grades

5 to 7,” Sauriol said.

Today’s showcase will feature 12 B.C. companies, including three from the Island — Codename, LlamaZOO and Cloudhead Games — trying to engage students, educators, other technology workers and representatives from other tech firms.

There will be a chance to play a variety of games in virtual reality, augmented reality, console gaming, computer gaming and mobile gaming, and there will be a coding classroom to give people a taste of what it takes to produce the games.

The showcase runs from 1 to 5:30 p.m. with an evening program for senior management of tech companies between 7 and 9:30 p.m.

To attend the showcase, people have to contact DigiBC through Kelsey@digibc.org, stating which portion of the event they wish to attend.