Vancouver’s Video Game Family Tree

The search string “Vancouver + Gaming” is an surpisingly popular search query. As a result, a Techvibes blog post published a year ago titled The Gaming Industry in Vacouver was one of our most popular posts in 2008.

Vancouver has become a hub of the North American gaming industry and there is a huge audience of gamers, designers, programmers, and investors that want to learn more about this Gaming Mecca.

At Techvibes, we’ve been contemplating an all-encompassing blog post that would cover the history of the gaming industry and identify the founding Fathers and how a number of the sibling offshotts are related.

No need anymore thanks to Blain Kyllo of the Georgia Straight. Kyllo tackled the topic head on and has come up with a great piece that starts out like this:

Mucking around with an Apple II one summer in the early 1980s, Don Mattrick and Jeff Sember, then Vancouver high-school students, designed and programmed Evolution. Released in 1982, Evolution may have been the first home-computer game with multiple levels. It may also have been the first computer game developed in Canada. It was certainly the first created in Vancouver.

While Vancouver’s game-development industry may have had a modest start, it now includes about 75 companies that directly develop games, according to Kenton Low, president of New Media B.C. An additional 70 companies provide support services for game development, including animation and audio production. In all, approximately 3,500 people are working in the video-game industry in the Lower Mainland.

Kyllo’s article acknowledges that teamwork and cross-pollination have put Vancouver on the gaming map.

First there was DSI, which was bought by Electronic Arts. Former DSI staff created Radical Entertainment. Some Radical employees later developed Barking Dog. Some moved from there to start other local game-development houses. Meanwhile, former EA staff created a bunch of other companies.

The complete Straight article is worth a read. The Family Tree (PDF) still needs a little work – anybody out there care to turn it into something a little more polished like WTIA’s recent poster.