Quebec’s video game industry is thriving. We need more targeted investment to ensure it stays that way
Behaviour and Montreal’s Concordia University are teaming up to develop talent and spur innovation in Quebec’s video game industry. A $2-million gift from Behaviour will support the creation of a new research chair at Concordia’s Department of Design and Computation Arts and provide financial assistance to undergraduate and graduate students interested in a career in video games.
By Annie Gérin and Rémi Racine
While the cultural and social impacts of video games are topics that have been widely debated and discussed, their economic benefits have gone largely unheralded.
This is a missed opportunity that a new collaboration between Concordia University and Behaviour Interactive, the largest Canadian video game studio, will help to address.
It’s safe to say that few outside the video game industry and government know that Canada’s booming video game sector contributed $5.5 billion to the national economy in 2021 (up from $3.7 billion in 2019), according to estimates from the Entertainment Software Association of Canada.
The industry is a major source of employment across Canada, with roughly 55,000 people engaged in the sector in 2021. Major international players like Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, and Behaviour Interactive have helped make Canada a hub for video game development. These multinationals co-exist alongside a healthy ecosystem of smaller studios and startups.
Of the $5.5 billion the video game industry contributed in 2021, $2.2 billion went to the province of Quebec, whose largest city, Montreal, ranks among the world’s largest video game design hubs. Montreal is currently home to more than 200 game development studios — more than 13,000 people work in the industry in the city.
The importance of a robust video game industry has been acknowledged by all levels of government. Multiple measures have supported industry’s growth, from special tax credits to the Quebec Interactive Media Development Program and Montreal’s Interactive Games Program, both of which offer financial assistance to help spur creativity.
The Government of Canada has also taken steps to fortify the industry, from the Canada Media Fund, which has supported the development of numerous video game projects, to trade junkets and programs like Digital Skills for Youth, which provides funds to non-profits to help youth acquire digital skills.
These efforts have helped to establish Canada and Quebec as a major force in the global gaming industry. While the impact of the major studios is undeniable, the list of independently produced games developed within our borders, either in whole or in part, is truly impressive.
Investing in next-generation talent
Canada’s continued success in the gaming industry will depend, in large part, on the steps we take to invest in this kind of ingenuity.
That is why Concordia University and Behaviour Interactive are collaborating on an initiative to foster more innovation and ensure future generations are prepared to meet the industry’s needs.
On May 18, 2023, Behaviour Interactive announced its commitment to donate $2 million to Concordia’s Department of Design and Computation Arts. This gift will not only fund a new research chair in game design, but also provide financial assistance to assist undergraduate and graduate students who hope to pursue careers in the gaming industry.
From bachelor’s and master’s programs to graduate diplomas, Concordia offers a comprehensive curriculum that covers all aspects of Computation Arts that benefit the video game industry.
Concordia’s strong emphasis on experiential education also ensures that students have access to multiple internships with Montreal-based studios. Exchanges with these studios — Behaviour Interactive included — expose students to industry expertise and resources and help to stimulate innovation.
Such partnerships herald significant promise for the industry’s growth in Montreal, Quebec, and Canada.
As we learn more about the potential benefits of video games, from improved cognitive ability and stress relief to social connection and enhanced problem-solving skills, we should encourage more strategic collaborations to drive creativity and discovery into the 21st century.
Canada’s future in the gaming industry could well depend on it.
Annie Gérin is dean of Concordia University’s Faculty of Fine Arts. Rémi Racine serves as CEO and executive producer of Behaviour Interactive.
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