One of gaming’s biggest conventions is bursting at the seams as more and more Canadian developers set up shop.
PAX East, an annual expo put on by the all things gaming website Penny Arcade, has become one of the biggest gaming consumer expos around the world, focusing on the array of independent studios that have seen a resurgence in the past couple of years.
At the forefront of the resurgence, and one of the most dominating presences at the convention, are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver’s top developers and studios, taking over an entire section of the showroom floor for their Canuck titles.
“There’s a really strong development scene in Canada, in general, but especially in Toronto,” Nathan Vella, co-founder of Capy Games said. “The small guys are doing extremely well, and the big guys are doing extremely well.”
Vella, who was at PAX to show off the first playable demo for his studio’s newest game, Below, pointed out fellow developers he was surrounded by, friends and colleagues from the great white north.
Including Vancouver native Ryan Clark, lead designer of the heavily anticipated dance controlled, rhythm based, dungeon crawling RPG Crypt of the Necrodancer.
“Vancouver’s community is very close knit and very large. But it wasn’t until recently that a meetup was started called Full Indie where we’d get together, hang out, and play games,” Clark said. “The people have always been there but with the resurgence of the indie scene, we’ve been able to see each other’s work and collaborate together.
Clark isn’t the only success to come out of the west coast city, either. A friend of Vancouver’s legendary Indie House, a fraternity of indie developers, including Towerfall developer Matt Thorson, Clark knows first hand just how tightly knit the independent community is in Vancouver.
Having a group of other independent developers to showcase games with, Toronto’s Luis Hernandez added, when there’s a lack of AAA developers helps move the scene forward and pushes the community to reach out beyond their city walls.
“PAX is the first time I’m actually seeing people play my game, and it’s an interesting experience. It’s different than I thought it would be, but that’s why I like these kinds of conventions,” he said.
For Christine Love, developer of the Hate Analogue series and a first time showcaser at PAX East, it’s a chance to interact with a community of fans she’s only been able to talk to over Twitter.
“People are really digging it, and it’s great to see that,” Love said. “But look at this entire section. Toronto has taken over the Megabooth,” she said, referring to one of the largest sections of the showroom floor and the spot designated for some of the biggest indie games.
With each new fan, and each distant high five from one local designer to the next, each dev has the same answer to if they’ll be returning to the convention.
“We’ll keep coming back as long as they’re running it. What’s better than watching people play games and hanging with you friends,” Vella said with a smirk. “Besides, our friends list is growing each year with more people coming down all the time.”