By: Randy Gaudreau | Mar 29, 2023
With people discovering (and rediscovering) their love for video games as they isolated and distanced at home, growth for the game development industry has recently skyrocketed to the next level.
At the start of 2020, the gaming industry grew by over 20% to earn over $180 billion in revenue. And with some predicting the market will grow to earn over $583.69 billion by 2030, it isn’t showing signs of slowing down.
According to Johanne Fratesi, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist for Keyword Studios, while accelerated growth is a great opportunity for gaming companies, the increasingly competitive market comes with new challenges for the company and the job seekers.
“The game dev industry is rapidly growing and evolving,” she said. “The increasing popularity of the gaming industry means high demand for professionals with a very specific set of skills that is constantly evolving.”
Recognizing the new challenges in the industry, Cornwall-based St. Lawrence College’s Game Programming program and Keyword Studios-owned Snowed in Studios in Ottawa have joined forces to provide students with professional mentorship and a potential career pathway as they prepare for a career in the industry.
According to Fratesi, the partnership was more than welcomed by the professionals on the Snowed In team.
“The college reached out to ask if we could help with their capstone project, and our team of developers were very eager to help,” she said. “We set up volunteer groups for each project; the rest is a two-year history.”
Recently, the students made their way to Snowed in Studio’s newly updated Ottawa office for what is becoming an annual open house event – to meet with the mentors who’ve guided the students along the way.
Fratesi said the open house provides the students with an unequalled opportunity to see what life in the gaming industry, working with a company like Snowed In Studios can be.
“The recent student visit was a great opportunity for the students to get face time with their mentors,” she explained. “To discuss their capstone project, to hear from different members of the studio about their career journey in games, as well as see the cool new office space.”
According to James Dupuis, Professor of Game Programming at St. Lawrence College, the initial idea was to increase engagement in the industry by building relationships between and surrounding industry studios.
But with no major studios nearby, the program reached out to Snowed In Studios in Ottawa – and the relationship has grown ever since. And thanks to Snowed In Studios Studio Head Jean-Sylvain (JS) Sormany, it now provides students with direct mentorship to support their growth and a potential career pathway as they emerge from the program.
“JS approached us with the mentorship idea, and he’s been the primary leader,” he said. “There are no gaming studios in Cornwall where our school is, so Ottawa is the perfect location, and the company is a good size for the partnership.”
“Every year, students from the program have been hired by Snowed In,” he continued. “This is the second year, and we improve every year to help the students more, and to develop what Snowed In is looking for. It’s a really nice studio, and we’re always happy to grow the partnership.”
While the relationship benefits the offering of the college and provides a potential talent pool for the company, the students are also happy with the relationship and what it provides.
One student attending the open house praised the studio, not only for the recently updated space – but for the culture they’re trying to create, and highlighted their “no crunch” policy that ensures employees are protected from excessive overtime – regardless of client deadlines.
“We’re getting a glimpse of what the work environment is in an office vs school,” they said. “Snowed In has a really nice environment. Nice people and culture, with their no crunch policy.”
Another student from the St. Lawrence program praised the open house and the partnership for helping them be prepared for life beyond college.
“It’s very helpful,” they explained. “It’s given us more details about the positions, expectations and how to build a game development portfolio. Now I can focus more on what’s needed for my career.”
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