Five Questions for Bill Marshall – Vortex Game Competition

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Bill_marshall_portraitBest-selling author, political strategist, film, television and theatrical producer, organizer of Royal and Papal visits and the G7 summit, Bill Marshall continues to leave his mark on Canada. Her Excellency Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada, recently acknowledged Marshall’s unique gifts by presenting him with the Order of Canada. "He has played a major role in developing Canada’s film industry and culture. Originator and co-founder of the Toronto International Film Festival, he helped to build it into one of the world’s most successful and prestigious events of its kind. He was also instrumental in forming the Academy of Canadian Film and Television, the association that promotes these industries and honours outstanding achievement. In addition, he is a film producer and served as President of the Canadian Association of Motion Picture Producers.

Marshall originally conceived the initial concept of the McLuhan International Festival of the Future (MIFF), and continues to oversee the creative elements and development of programming for the festival.  One of the most exciting aspects of MIFF is the upcoming Vortex Videogame Competition, a great opportunity open to emerging videogame developers. The event is sponsored by Telefilm Canada and OMDC in partnership with George Brown College and MIFF.

One Degree: What is the Vortex 2007 Game Competition (VGC)?

The Vortex Competition is a not-to-be-missed opportunity where emerging game designers and developers can present their concepts to a stellar line up of industry honchos, financiers and venture capitalists in the hope of winning the competition and getting their creation to market. Think a kinder, gentler "Dragon’s Den" with massive networking opportunities, a multi-platform playing field and great prizes, coupled with industry workshops and coaching from the most successful entrepreneurs in Canada. Jury panelists include, but are not limited to, experts from Yahoo, Bell, Telus, CHUM, and the top local game developers and publishers like Groove Games,  Pseudo Interactive, Transgaming Technologies and Dark Matter Entertainment, plus Covington Capital, Ventures West, Courage Capital and RBC Capital Markets.
The free industry workshops run on June 2 and June 4. The competition runs from June 18-21 with the deadline for submissions on May 31st. All events held at the International Academy of Design and Technology (39 John Street, Toronto). See website for details: www.vortexcompetition.org

One Degree: Why would someone want to participate in the VGC, and who is your target audience?

Participating in the Vortex 2007 Game Competition is invaluable. Not only do applicants get the opportunity to network with other game developers and designers, they get the chance to be mentored in workshops by top industry professionals to develop the business skills needed to move their concepts forward. Plus the prizes are enticing, including $2500 cash for the 1st place winner and the 4 winners from each platform get an XBOX 360 videogame and entertainment system. 
The competition and workshops are open to emerging game developers for all platforms including console, PC, mobile and internet. Our target audience will include applicants from post-secondary school studying game design, graduates trying to break into the gaming industry, budding entrepreneurs and those working at independent video game companies with an exceptional enthusiasm for their own personal project. Typically, our audience should be gamers who are technically & creatively oriented with concepts in mind, but don’t know the business skills to move the idea forward.  Generally they would be men and women between the ages of 18-40.

One Degree: What role do you feel the VGC will play in the Canadian videogame landscape?

It is essential to provide game designers with opportunities to showcase their concepts. The VGC is that medium and goes above and beyond by educating the applicants about the realities of the industry and what is needed to move their ideas from conception to reality. We are the early warning system for developers and publishers to pick out hot new Canadian talent. It’s time to bring more Canadians to the forefront of this rapidly growing $20-billion dollar industry.
“The impact of videogames on our industry is undeniable,” said Sue Sheridan, Executive Director, Women in Film and Television, Toronto (WIFT-T). “With more and more films and television series transitioning to this medium, it is changing the face of the business of entertainment.” Also a senior executive at Yahoo said, "Videogames are super important to us, they are the #1 fastest growing activity for Canadians on the internet."

One Degree: Can you describe what the Canadian videogame environment is like, and how the VGC will help the community?

While Canada is already a key international hub for game development, challenges exist for independent game developers to bring original content to market in this multi-platform environment. A rising trend indicates that videogame designers and developers are being educated in Canada, particularly Ontario, but they are moving to other provinces or the U.S. to find better opportunity and jobs upon completion of their programs. The VGC will foster the growth of the Ontario market by encouraging new start-ups to remain here to build a successful and thriving community and reach its potential.

One Degree: How have you differentiated the VGC from other videogame contests around the world, and how is the VGC unique?

Vortex is similar to Telefilm’s Great Canadian Video Game Competition where the opportunity is provided for videogame designers to receive mentorship to move their  concept to market, however our competition is on a smaller level open to emerging game designers as opposed to experienced designers. Aside from that, we believe that Vortex is one of a kind and no other opportunity gives the caliber of judges and speakers than we have lined up. Here’s where we really differ from all other competitions around in that VVC’s not just a competition, it offers step-by-step workshops about how to create, finance, pitch, market and sell your idea given by the people who have already made it in the industry and other industries. Each session will address how to prepare for and manage a certain element of the process, and what it expected of them when they get out there into the business world to actually compete in real terms. And best of all, it’s all free!

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