In a dramatic display of numbers Friday (May 10), some 300 members of Vancouver’s video game and digital creative industries gathered at an advance polling station to cast their votes in the 2013 provincial election.
DigiBC head Howard Donaldson said he was pleasantly surprised by the turnout. He told the Straight that about 75 companies registered to send employees to the gathering at the Roundhouse, and that the happening was promoted on Twitter using the hashtag “#votemob”. Donaldson said the Roundhouse was selected for the event because so many of studios are located in Vancouver’s downtown core.
The NDP’s Matt Toner, candidate for Vancouver-False Creek, helped organize the event. A digital media entrepreneur himself, Toner told the Straight he entered politics to champion the causes of B.C.’s creative industries. “These are the jobs of the future,” he said, claiming that the Liberals have “actively de-invested” in the industry by excluding tech and digital companies from programs.
In the past few years, the video game industry in Vancouver has been on the decline, Toner continued, claiming that in his riding alone, 300 jobs have been lost in the last year, with those positions going to places like Ontario and Quebec, where video game developers enjoy lucrative tax credits. “We’re exporting our future,” Toner said. “We need to invest in the industry.”
Ian Verchere, a veteran of the video game industry in B.C. and the chief creative officer at Roadhouse Interactive, said that the technical creative industries in B.C. employ about 80,000 people, compared to forestry, which he said employs around 17,000. Verchere wants the creative industries, including animation, film, and video games, recognized as being as important as the traditional provincial economic pillars: forestry, mining, and tourism. “We belong at the table,” he emphasized.
Asked whether the NDP were the answer to the problems, Donaldson said that he likes what the party is saying about the digital industries. “They value digital media and technology,” he said.
Verchere said he holds “no love” for NDP leader Adrian Dix, but that when he’s had conversations with Christy Clark and Colin Hansen in the past, they’ve looked at him like he was “Klaatu from The Day the Earth Stood Still”. What was important about the vote mob was the turnout. “Whoever gets in is going to see this group,” said Verchere.
Donaldson agreed, saying that his association was ready to work with whatever party forms the provincial government.