Canada's Condominium Magazine

Video games are serious business in Ontario

Who plays video games? If you say “kids” or “high schoolers” or “twenty-somethings who haven’t found a job,” you are only partly correct, according to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESA). Their statistics show that the average gamer is 31 years old. Males outnumber females, but not by much: 54 per cent to 46 per cent. According to their 2012 statistics, 58 per cent of all Canadians are gamers, and 61 per cent of all Canadian households own a game console. Virtually every household (95 per cent) has a cell phone, tablet, mobile device or computer. More and more gamers are using their handheld devices, and fewer are using computers to play.
Screen shot from Call of Duty: Black Ops, one of the world’s most popular video games. Ontario is at the Video Game Developers conference in San Francisco, pushing the province’s well-funded, well-established gaming industry in order to attract new investment here. Canada ranks number 3 in the world for its video gaming industry.

What are the most popular games? The top twenty list for the twelve months ending August, 2012, includes a mix of war and battle-related games—Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Number 1); Battlefield (Number 4); Gears of War 3; sports-type games—NHL 12 (Number 3); FIFA Soccer 12; Forza Motorsport; and adventure-type games—Assassin’s Creed: Revelations; Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure; Dead Island.

The gaming industry in Canada ranks third in the world, according to ESA, in terms of numbers of people employed (16,000). This puts it after Japan and the United States. The industry has a “direct economic impact” of about $1.7 billion, generated by 348 companies. The industry experienced 11 per cent growth from 2009 to 2010, and was projected to grow by 17 per cent from 2011 to 2012. The majority of companies (77 per cent) were planning to hire by 2013. The average salary in the industry is $62,000.

Ontario employs about 2,600 in the gaming industry, in 96 companies, and has an expected growth rate of 21 per cent. Ontario has the greatest number of game development companies in Canada, supported by a number of large studios—global giant Ubisoft recently opened a Toronto office—government financial incentives, and a vibrant “digital media and video gaming ecosystem.” The Swedisn children’s app developer Toca Boca just acquired the Toronto company zinc Roe, which produces Tickle Tap apps for children. It will now operate from Toronto as Sago Sago.

The biggest game developers event in the world, the Game Developers Conference (GDC) is currently running in San Francisco, and official Ontario is there, in the form of a number of Ontario Technology Corridor executives. They are there to attract new investment and trade deals for the industry, and issued a statement trumpeting the area’s growth and government programs that help businesses set up in Ontario’s “gateway to innovation.” According to the release, the Ontario Technology Corridor employs over 270,000 people in 18,000 Information and Communications Technology companies.

Humber College, whose School of Media Studies and Information Technology offers a course in video game programming, says that the careers open to their graduates include work as a junior game developer or game tester for game development companies, Internet service providers and companies developing games for handheld and mobile devices. A graduate can look forward to a job as a game marketer, game software developer, game software engineer, project manager and team leader for game software development.

In the fifth semester of the six-semester Humber program, students take a course titled Artificial Intelligence. The course description gives an indication of the odd mix of sophisticated concepts, technical expertise and frivolous application that characterize the creation of video games—”deterministic and non-deterministic AI” in the service of “chasing and evading.”

Artificial Intelligence

Immersive games interacting with physics based simulations require a practical knowledge of AI/A-Life. Finite state machines, fuzzy logic and neural networks create the smart interaction that gamers expect in their applications. A mix of deterministic and non-deterministic AI techniques provides the backbone of the interactive experience. This course covers topics such as chasing and evading, swarming, path finding, probability and Bayesian techniques for NPCs, genetic algorithms, learning machines and virtual social evolution.


Auberge on the Park-Tridel


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