video game industry | “We will regain our momentum”

Teams separated by teleworking, accusations of a toxic climate, increasingly rare international prizes: video games in Quebec have been experiencing turbulence for a few years. With this in mind, a new director general, Jean Jacques Hermans, took up his post at the Guilde du jeu video du Québec last February. Interview with this great admirer of this industry with nearly 300 studios for whom the best is yet to come.

Posted at 7:00 am

Karim Benessaieh

Karim Benessaieh
The press

Q: Quebec and Montreal’s star seems to have faded since 2015, judging by the international awards they have won, particularly the prestigious Game Awards The messenger in 2018 and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy in 2021, and that’s it. How do you explain this slowdown?

A: That’s a good point. We’re talking about it internally, we’ll see what happens. Of course there are cycles. AAA games take three or four years to develop; things are brewing. I feel like we’re more of a development cycle and over the coming months and years the games will release and we’ll regain our momentum. We want to use the personal return of MEGAMIGS, which will be the big event at the end of October this year, to capitalize on the enthusiasm for launches.

Q: How is the Guild dealing with the allegations of harassment and toxic climates at several studios around the world that have hit the industry, most notably Ubisoft Montreal in 2020? What can you do there?

A: Firstly, I would say that it is not for the guild to manage the problems inherent in the corporations themselves. The responsibility of the association is to conduct advertising, workshops and diversity training. There are the issues you talk about, but there are also the issues of diversity that are on everyone’s mind at the moment. The guild has invested heavily in diversity programs, particularly since the merger. We have a diversity consultant on the team, initiatives like a listening line for studio staff, group meetings, we are working with a partner on a best practice guide. I would like to add that a project with indigenous people is currently being developed to encourage young people to better understand the professions in the sector.

Q: What challenges did you want to complete when you were hired by the guild?

A: When I was hired there were three strategic issues. After the merger of the two associations in 2019, the Digital Alliance and the former Guild of Independent Video Game Developers, there were some great projects that fell through the pandemic. There was the wedding, but not the honeymoon! The second goal is to develop a real government relations strategy. The third is presence in the regions.

Q: What are your demands on governments?

A: The government receives many petitions, studies and briefs. The strategy of the industry is now to have a stronger presence in Quebec as well. For example, we would like to develop a concept for the video game day. The demands right now are really about labor and immigration, we’re not the only ones involved. There are multiple programs, we would like a one stop shop. It’s clear that if we want to keep intellectual property in Quebec, we need to help develop avenues of funding for independent studios.

Q: We have to tell you sometimes that video games are useless, that it makes you violent. what do you answer

A: Two out of three Canadians describe themselves as gamers. It’s a growing industry that produces spin-offs, where there’s a lot of creativity, innovation and space for young people. But it’s true that in my more distant family I was told, ‘Oh, why are you going there? “I have always been interested in innovations. When we talk about Metaverse, we’re talking about a concept that uses real-time video game engines. There are some super interesting collaborations with companies like CAE that have an environment in Formation where they need to have real time effects.

Well, yes, we have to be careful. Among other things, we work with Laval University in Quebec City on research projects on addiction and violence in games. We must continue to be leaders in this area.

This interview has been edited for brevity and readability.

Jean-Jacques Hermans in brief

  • Bachelor from the University of Montreal in 1984
  • Director of Programs and Partnerships Management at Softimage, then Microsoft, from 1992 to 1997
  • From 1997 to 1999 Managing Director and CEO of Merging Technologies, a Swiss manufacturer of high-resolution recording solutions
  • Vice President of Corporate Relations at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce from 2006 to 2020
  • Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Operations, at K6 Media Group, an animation, production and distribution studio expert in animation software, in 2021
  • Appointed General Manager of the Quebec Video Game Guild in February 2022

Learn more

  • 13,500
    Number of people employed in the video game industry in Quebec

    Entertainment Software Association of Canada, 2021

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