Canada to invest in local video-game business


TORONTO -- Grabbing a piece of the $20 billion video game industry, the Canadian government on Wednesday said it would invest CAN$2 million ($1.76 million) to develop homegrown video games.

Also joining the migration from traditional film investment to the multiplatform digital age, Norman Jewison's Canadian Film Center on Wednesday unveiled plans for a multimedia platform program to complement its existing film and TV training courses.

Montreal-based Telefilm, Ottawa's film financier, invited Canadian video game makers to compete for CAN$2 million in financing through a process entitled the Great Canadian Video Game Competition.

"With the input and support of industry, this competition will give independent firms the leverage to attract required financing and distribution opportunities for its intellectual property," Telefilm executive director Wayne Clarkson said.

An initial 10 companies will be chosen early in the new year to vie for public financing to get their product to the market.

Video game producers Sherpa Games, Union Entertainment, Radical Entertainment, Ubisoft Montreal and Electronic Arts Montreal will be among existing industry players either sponsoring or mentoring emerging video game developers looking for Telefilm seed financing.

The domestic video game competition comes as Canadian producer increasingly move away from developing product strictly for cinemas or the TV screen, and instead create video for emerging digital platforms, including video game consoles.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Film Center, founded in 1988 by Jewison unwrapped plans for an NBC Universal multiplatform program to train Canadians in digital media production across a range of platforms.

Developed by the Toronto-based film center's Media Lab, the NBC Universal Canada-sponsored program will offer investment and production support to those interested in producing a multiplatform strategy for product from the earliest stages of development.