Andrew-David Jahchan, Director and Lead Developer for MADSOFT Games, is an active member of the Startup Edmonton community and launched MADJAM 2015 to grow our city’s game development network.
We sat down with Andrew-David to chat about coming to Edmonton and his commitment to fostering the next generation of game developers.
Q: Why did you choose to bring MADSOFT Games to Edmonton?
A: We moved MADSOFT Games to Edmonton in February 2013. We wanted to leave Quebec because the game development scene was already solidly established and the competition was fierce. French language laws were getting stronger and we were worried that they would affect our company, as we operate mainly in English. We chose Edmonton because the city has so much potential and the game development community was young and growing. We thought it would be possible to inject ourselves in the community here, meet new developers and help each other grow professionally, all while expanding Edmonton’s game development scene together.
Q: What was the inspiration for MADJAM 2015?
After moving here, we realized that, unlike in Montreal, the number of communities and events related to game development was sparse. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely a few groups and communities doing great things, such as GameCamp/Edmonton IGDA and Extra Life.
We thought: “If there aren’t any game development events for us to join, we will just have to create some ourselves for others to join instead!” So we set out to launch a game development event that we hoped would foster growth in the game development community.
We wanted to do something beyond a simple game jam or meetup; a series that challenged us on an ongoing basis to be better developers.
You see, Montreal has at least a dozen AAA studios, while Edmonton has one: BioWare. So there aren’t plenty of opportunities for game developers here at that level. They could either work at BioWare, or attempt to join or form a new indie studio, but the latter is an incredibly challenging commitment for students and early-career developers.
I saw talented game developers leave the city to find work and professional development in our industry. We needed to do something that would keep those potential developers in the city. Something that would not only bring students and budding developers to meet and work in teams together, but also gain the experience they need to hopefully form new local studios at the end of the year or after they graduate. So we gathered speakers, partners, schools, sponsors, and anyone interested in helping foster growth in Edmonton’s game development community.
Q: What are you most looking forward to at the inaugural jam taking place this weekend?
A: For this first event, we hope the many students and budding creatives, from developers, artists, and animators, to writers and music composers, form teams and meet people that click with them.
When I met MADSOFT Games’ co-founder, Jose Jimenez III, we immediately clicked and knew we would be working together for years to come. That was back in 2008! We hope the same will happen to participants at this first event and they use the following events to further explore their relationships and skills to eventually form a team outside of the events and into the future.
We’re excited to welcome City Councillors Andrew Knack and Mike Nickel at the jam on January 23rd. Microsoft will also be joining us and providing Windows devices for participants to use while developing - tablets, laptops and phones.
Q: Who should get involved with MADJAM 2015 and what are some of the benefits of connecting with the game development community in Edmonton?
A: We welcome game developers, concept artists, illustrators, animators, game designers, interface designers, writers, music composers, sound effect composers, 3D modellers, and anyone that is interested in building video games one way or another.
If you are skilled in more than one field, we encourage you to take advantage of this event to master your strongest skill, get better at your weaker skill, or even explore a completely new skill!
As a participant, you will get to meet peers, gain experience working in a team under strict conditions (limited time, obligatory theme, etc), add new work to your portfolio, meet experts from already established studios or the AAA industry, get valuable advice, feedback, and constructive criticism by our judges at the end of the event, win prizes that will help you explore your skills further, and become part of the growing game development community in Edmonton.
Startup Edmonton is proud to host the first MADJAM 2015 event, Global Game Jam January 23 - 25, at our downtown campus. For more info & to register, visit madjam.ca.