With so many people turning to video games during the last year to be entertained and maintain human connection either at home with family or in online streams, it’s no surprise Canada’s gaming industry is thriving, with companies expanding operations in major cities like Vancouver and Montreal.
Canada is a nation of gamers, with 61 per cent of the population identifying as video gamers. The average age of Canadian video gamers is also on the rise — it was 38 years of age in 2020 compared to 36 in 2017. With stay-at-home orders over the last year bringing parents and kids closer together over games, interest in gaming is expanding in new and exciting ways.
A study conducted in November 2020 by The NPD Group for the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) revealed that 58 per cent of adult gamers and 80 per cent of teen gamers reported playing more video games during the pandemic. Gaming also served to connect people of all ages as kids sought to stay in touch with friends and parents spent more time with their kids, according to the ESAC’s Real Canadian Gamers Essential Facts 2020.
The demographics of those who play video game has also been shifting over the last few years. What was once a male-dominated market is now reportedly at an even 50/50 split of men and women playing video games. When it comes to the province with the greatest level of participation, it may be Saskatchewan’s long cold winters that put it at the top. The province has the most video game players per capita in Canada — 68 per cent play with an
average of 10 hours per week.
Esports are also taking off, with more spectators taking in gaming than ever before. About 40 per cent of Canadian gamers view game streaming content; specifically, 41 per cent of adults and 46 per cent of kids and teens.
Jobs in the sector
Behind all this uptake is a sector in need of skilled and talented individuals who can produce new games. The industry adds about $3.7 billion annually to Canada’s gross domestic product — up 24 per cent since 2015.
While the gaming market in Vancouver has had its hard times with some studios shut down or relocated to other gaming hubs, last fall, some of the city’s independent gaming studios were among Canada’s top growing companies, including East Side Games, LBC Studios, Blackbird Interactive and A Thinking Ape.
The video game industry generated about 21,000 jobs in Canada last year, a six per cent increase since 2015. Quebec was the top regional employer in the sector, followed by British Columbia and Ontario in the third spot.
There are about 596 active gaming studios in Canada, up 21 per cent from 2015, and this month Amazon Games announced it is launching a development studio in Montreal and is actively hiring to build a team that former Ubisoft Montreal employees will lead.
In a statement, Amazon Games said the Montreal studio, which joins Amazon Games development studios in Seattle, Orange County, and San Diego, will focus on creating original AAA games. Amazon Games is actively hiring to build out a team, with a variety of roles opening.
Websites like CanadianGameDevs post jobs in the video game industry by company. Employment in the sector can include job titles such as:
- Game designer
- Software developer and computer programmer
- Animators and other artists
- Audio engineers
- Video game testers
- Technical support specialists
Salaries in the video game sector are competitive, with the average game developer salary in Canada at about $93,750, while entry-level positions start at $56,043 per year. Motivation enough to turn a passion into a career path.