You think Canada’s banking system is world-class? Try our video game industry

Throughout 2008 and 2009, the United Stated of America was ravaged by the recession. Despite being America’s Northern neighbour, Canada was stoic during these hard financial times and emerged relatively unscathed—one of the few countries in the world to do so.

This was largely due to our rock-solid banks and financial systems, which stood strong while the U.S. collapsed.

But if Canada is shining brightly on the global stage, it may not be for its banks, but rather its video game industry.

According to a report by Secor Consulting released by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, there are roughly 16,000 artists, innovators, and designers employed by the video game industry in Canada. This number marks a growth of 11 percent over the past two years, a time when many industries are stagnant or still reeling off the pains felt in the depth of the economic downturn. And with the recession in the rearview mirror, growth is expected to accelerate to nearly 20 percent over the next two years.

Well over 300 Canadian companies contribute nearly $2,000,000,000 to this country’s economy annually, the report reveals, rendering our video game industry the third-largest in the entire world—and first place on a per capita basis.

“Canada is a dominant player in producing world-class entertainment. Accordingly, the video game sector plays a key role in the development and health of Canada’s advanced digital economy,” said Danielle Parr, Executive Director of ESAC, the trade association for Canada’s computer and video game industry. “Not only is this industry a net job creator, but it’s providing knowledge-intensive, challenging jobs that pay well above the national average.”

Her statement is solidified by research that suggests typical salaries in Canada’s video game sector range between a respectable $40,000 and an impressive $73,000, far above the median income for the rest of Canada’s economy ($29,000).

Still, we must remember that to maintain this success, effort must be put in by consumers, companies, and government alike.

“Canada is a powerhouse in the global video game production industry, but we need to be vigilant as the industry evolves to ensure that infrastructure and policies keep pace so we can maintain and extend our leadership position,” said David Tait, Partner at Secor Consulting.

“Issues like labour mobility and intellectual property protection are central to the video game industry’s continued success,” says Danielle Parr. “Without a competitive and harmonized operating environment, Canada’s attractiveness as a jurisdiction for globally integrated companies can diminish quickly.”