Big Talk in Little Montreal

Montreal may not have quite the same tech cred as the almighty Silicon Valley in the Bay area of San Francisco, but in recent years it’s pulled off a talent drain for the gaming industry that is outright threatening. Montreal played a massive role in Canada’s own climb to edge out the United Kingdom as one of the major players in the industry, coming up only behind Japan and the United States. Is it any wonder with that many studios concentrated in such a small area, it would start to become attractive not just as a place to work in the industry, but as a place to discuss the industry itself?

That’s what MIGS, the Montreal International Gaming Summit is all about; an east Canadian version of the Game Developers Conference that draws not just on the talent already living in the city to contribute but others from around the world. Last year the summit called on the likes of Richard Lemarchand of Naughty Dog fame to speak about his experiences at the AAA level of the industry, while other speakers like Jason Rohre took up the cause for the Indie space.

This year, MIGS is looking to step things up again. The biggest name for old timers is, without a doubt, Peter Molyneux, giving one of the featured talks. Molyneux has had a varied and occasionally tumultuous career that spans the creation of entirely new genre—the “god game”—to prototypes that push the boundaries of how people define a game, as with the famous “Project Milo” concept shown off as an example of Kinect interactivity at the 2009 E3. He’s gone from being a founder of Bullfrog Procutions, to founding Lionhead Studios and finally taking the reins of Creative Director for Microsoft Studios Europe before walking away from all of it to once again start a small, upstart company known as 22Cans. His talk at MIGS 2012 is tackling the subjects of innovation and experimentation, something he’s had a lot of experience with over the years.

Another big, big name in the industry—though perhaps not as widely recognized for juicy press quotes—is Tim Sweeney. The name might not be all that familiar, but his company should be; he’s the Chief Technical Officer for Epic Games. Yes, Gears of War and Unreal Engine Epic Games. His talk is something that’s actually near and dear to hearts of most gamers these days; musings on the next generation of consoles. The safe money says that since Unreal Engine is instrumental in the creation of most games, and his company has likely been privy to talks from both Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo about their future hardware, his speculations on this topic just might carry some weight.

Finally, one of the more pleasant surprises in recent days has been the intensely personal Papa & Yo by Vander Caballero. Originally from Brazil, the founder of Minority Media Inc. enjoyed a career with one of the biggest publishers in the business, Electronic Arts. He worked on big AAA titles like Army of Two and The Sims, finally leaving the world of AAA production in 2009 to create something with a more personal stamp. Three years later, Papa & Yo for the Playstation 3 is the result, and he’s going to give a talk on how to go from the world of AAA to the Indie scene, while still trying to retain the values of AAA production.

That’s just the tip of an impressive ice berg of speakers, seminars and other activities at MIGS 2012. CGM is going to be heading down for the summit, which runs November 13 and 14, to cover the event and sit down and talk to some of these people who are helping to shape the direction the industry takes. Keep reading CGM to stay in the loop about the Montreal International Games Summit.