Reason to Love Toronto: because our geeks are gaming gods

Reason to Love Toronto: because our geeks are gaming gods

Sept. 20, 2011, 3:57 p.m. George Brown gaming graduate Billy Matjiunis at Ubisoft’s Wallace Street studio
Sept. 20, 2011, 3:57 p.m. George Brown gaming graduate Billy Matjiunis at Ubisoft’s Wallace Street studio (Image: Sean J. Sprague) 

Video gamers are often maligned as dweebs with vitamin D deficiencies and a dearth of flesh-and-blood friends, but that probably described Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg at one point, too. We’re not saying that nephew of yours who posts his Call of Duty missions on YouTube will be the next great tech entrepreneur, but he could be, and Toronto has become the right place to be if he wants to try. Take the success story of east-end studio Capybara Games, whose app Sword and Sworcery ranked only behind Angry Birds on sales charts in March. Or Queen West’s Get Set Games, whose ultra-addictive Mega Jump has been downloaded 17 million times since last May. The triumphs of these smallish firms are part of the reason giants like Ubisoft and Zynga set up shop here, contributing to what has become a $240-million-a-year industry in Ontario. Traditionally, luring console kings into the workforce has been a challenge, which is why we’re big fans of George Brown College’s spiffy new video game incubator. Launching this month, it’s a gleaming space that puts game design students and start-ups side by side. The gadgetry is a geek’s fantasy: a soon-to-be-installed 3-D motion-tracking studio that captures and reproduces human movements with jaw-dropping accuracy, and a sea of tricked-out computers that would give Watson a run for its money. Tech wizards who might have headed to Silicon Valley after graduation can now get schooled and land a job in the same place. And if they invent the next Facebook, well, we can say we saw it coming.