GameON: Ventures 2016 kicked off with a number of honoured guests and continued with two fantastic days of sessions, networking and two new additions – our Expo and Pitch Competition.
After an Indigenous Greeting from Constance Simmonds of the Toronto and York Region Métis Council, opening remarks were heard from OMDC President & CEO Karen Thorne-Stone and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Eleanor McMahon. Minister McMahon called GameON: Ventures a “catalyst for growth” and the next two days lived up to those words.
We were thrilled to have legendary game designer John Romero provide our opening keynote (and later visit some indie studios at our Expo!) Check out a re-cap of his talk on GamesIndustry and read an interview with him from the National Post.
Day 1 covered a lot of ground, with plenaries, pitch competitor training and breakout sessions, including Leveraging the Gaming Community (with tips and tricks for engaging your fanbase with speakers from Ubisoft, Twitch and others) and a great panel on how building diverse teams helps companies tell better stories and find new audiences. We then welcomed The Honourable Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services, as moderator of a panel on Doing Good Through Games – whether that takes the form of inclusion initiatives or games addressing issues such as mental health.
On Day 2, we started the day with presentations on some innovative games about to make a splash – Floor Kids and Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. In the breakout room, we hosted a hands-on workshop on that addressed participants’ questions on studio operations and over in the Collaboration Hub delegates participated in facilitated meetings with speakers and partners. After lunch, we converged in the main auditorium to watch the finalists in the first-ever GameON: Ventures pitch competition take their shot at the grand prize of $10,000 and runner-up prizes from Pycap Venture Partners, FrontFundr, Maple Leaf Angels and Jaguar Capital. The pitches were strong and in the end, MiChecker Gamified App for youth with developmental disabilities emerged victorious. All 20 pitch participants received valuable training on honing their pitches and made great connections.
The conference wrapped up with our Wind Down – a casual reception presented by Ubisoft Toronto and Nordicity with refreshments, game demos and game trailers on the big screen – plus an exclusive walkthrough of Ubisoft’s upcoming Watch Dogs 2 with never-before-seen content. It was a chance for delegates and speakers to catch up after a jam-packed two days and exchange business cards before heading home to Spain, the US, the UK, El Salvador, Brazil, Argentina, Sweden, Germany, Mexico, Nigeria, France, Singapore and across Canada.
A huge thank you to everyone who made GameON: Ventures 2016 such a rousing success – our speakers, sponsors, Advisory Committee, volunteers, exhibitors, pitch participants and of course, delegates. See you in 2017!