The interactive digital media industry contributes nearly $125.3 billion in global economic activity (projected for 2018 by NewZoo) just in the video game sub-sector. Canada’s video game industry in 2016 contributed $3.7 billion to the annual GDP and is expected to continue at 24% growth annually. Meanwhile in 2016, “App” creation was a $37 billion industry with 6.1 billion mobile devices expected by 2020. Mobile devices as a mass market platform alone are outpacing human growth.
The Saskatchewan Interactive Media Association Inc. (SaskInteractive) is the provincial association for interactive digital media (IDM.) Our mission is to promote and support the growth, sustainability and the competitiveness of the province’s IDM industry through education, growing entrepreneurship networks, and further developing public policy. SaskInteractive works with local, provincial, national and international agencies to leverage and build up member business profiles.
This past year SaskInteractive has supported members through educational workshops, monthly networking events, lunch and learns, and video game design camps for youth. We are proud to partner with industry on hackathons and game jams and education to develop strategies for youth.
So, what is interactive digital media (IDM)?
Interactive Digital Media is a large and complex industry but simply put—anyone who produces digital content and environments where users can actively participate or collaboratively participate among multiple users for the purpose of entertainment, information or education, and is commonly delivered via the internet, mobile networks, gaming consoles or media storage devices.
Think of web development, mobile games, console and PC/computer based games, virtual/augmented/mixed reality, apps, e-learning, social media and content development, connected devices, data, interactive storytelling and digital arts and you should be able to grasp the concept of the types of work our membership produces. Our members design and develop digital products that can and are distributed globally.
Meet a SaskInteractive Member
In Saskatchewan, we’re starting to see a rise in developers and designers with the drive to produce and sell their video games and interactive products in the global market. BitCutter Studios is a SaskInteractive member in Regina. They have begun to see success and revenue from their recent game Balloonatics, a team-based multiplayer game that supports cross-play between VR and non-VR players. Players pilot balloon-suspended baskets, collecting and using weapons to take down their opponents. It’s been described as similar to Mario Kart’s battle mode, but with more action, strategy, and variety.
SaskInteractive sat down with Mike Berger and Taylor Eichhorst, co-founders of BitCutter to learn more about their Regina-based venture. BitCutter began their journey six years ago, developing games together mostly as a hobby. In early 2017, Berger and Eichorst left their full-time jobs to officially start BitCutter Studios. Their work is produced in a home office, including code, modelling, sound, and infrastructure. Taylor claims the long winters in Saskatchewan provide a lot of indoor time to focus creatively on games. BitCutter indicates Saskatchewan is a great place to live but there could be more done to further assist new businesses by offering more co-working space, funding initiatives, and services and guidance on how businesses can get started.
The BitCutter founders have some advice for aspiring developers. Expect to get critical feedback which can assist you on refining the product or service. They also advise that new entrepreneurs should assume that most tasks will take twice as long as you’d think, and then double that. “In the worst case, you are pleasantly surprised when something is done early,” say Berger and Eichorst. “Regarding game development, start with small projects so you can see it to completion. Take on challenges that take you out of your comfort zone. Plan and invest in marketing and build a following before a release.”