Weekly News Bits from Vancouver’s Game Industry

Every week I’ll cover brief news sloughed off the pale underbelly of Vancouver’s game industry. If you have something you think should be passed along here – a rumour, a tip, a launch, a party, a new hire, a great job, a better name for this column – let me know. The legion of ways I can be reached are listed on my website.

Alex Garden, at it again
Via @fionagarden comes word of Alex Garden’s newest project, a startup called Small Incorporated. Garden is in search of his next big hit, having founded Relic in 1997 before leaving in 2005 to startup iValet, a parking systems firm. In 2006, Garden folded iValet to head up a Vancouver outpost of Nexon. I conducted a video interview with Alex at his Nexon office last fall, just a few months before Nexon shuttered the Vancouver operation for good, laying off all 90 employees.

SmallInc’s first effort is season 9 of what must be an established web cartoon called Babushkas (view trailer). An odd choice as a debut product, but Smallinc has large plans, billing itself as “a completely virtual organization who identifies and produces small, quick-to-develop exciting integrated media properties delivered on mobile platforms, the web, TV and physically through retail tie-ins such as collectable toys, collectable trading card games and more.”

Pecha Kucha huh?
Looking for an inspiring transmedia event to network and bring cool ideas back into your day job? The next edition of the always-sold-out Pecha Kucha series looks like it will happen on July 16th, location TBD. Pecha Kucha – an event held in over 203 cities – allows pre-scheduled presenters from a variety of disciplines just 20 images @ 20 seconds each for a total of six minutes and 40 seconds of presentation time.

Pecha Kucha Night… was conceived in 2003 as a place for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. Pecha Kucha (which is Japanese for the sound of conversation) has tapped into a demand for a forum in which creative work can be easily and informally shown, without having to rent a gallery or chat up a magazine editor.

If you’re bold enough, ask to present!

Radical resurgent
Radical is coming on strong as of late. After product cuts made by parent company Activision forced Radical to lay off nearly half its staff last year, the studio now leads local game devs in terms of job openings with 14, according to one local recruiter. Relic and Next Level trail with seven open positions, Blue Castle with four. The recruiter I spoke to said it’s “tough to get a handle on EA’s requirements” – which makes sense given their large-scale downsizing and restructuring as of late.

In more good news for Radical, on Tuesday Prototype started its shelf life strong, averaging a 93% metacritic briefly before setting to its current mid-80s level. Electric Playground host Victor Lucas, who has been playing Prototype all week and loving it, suggests that fans of the game should pass props to @radicalman1 and he’ll make sure the team knows.

UFG moves 1 block East
Earlier this week, United Front Games moved into a swank new location above Yaletown Brew Pub in, er, Yaletown. Ash Matheson‘s Facebook photos (friend him to see them) show off nine spy cam-esque snaps from within the new office, where one can see the hallmarks of videogame office life: billiards and foosball tables, a stocked kitchen and Nacho Libre-style wrestling masks in a glass case.

Both floors of UFG’s old office space on Homer are now available for lease. Congrats on the new space, UFG!


Adrian Crook is a game consultant based in North Vancouver. With over 14 years experience, Adrian designs and produces social, casual and AAA games for a variety of clients. He has spoken on the subject of free-to-play games at GDC and SXSW and writes articles for trade publications.