The Ontario Election and the Games Industry

It is the eve of the Provincial Election in Ontario, and I’m worried. Worried is an understatement.

I fear for the future of our province, and for my friends, peers, and colleagues in the media and games development industry in the light of the increased chance of a majority Conservative government. Some say press should remain neutral in the reporting of politics, but I can’t sit idly by as the chances of the support system of an established and successful industry is on the verge of being dismantled.

It is easy, the Conservative government is bad for Ontario. They focus on cuts, and "fixing" the mistakes made by Kathleen Wynne's government (which many forget was very progressive and had a lot of success despite some public setbacks). I could attack Doug Ford personally and point out his own fiscal irresponsibility, his dangerous attitude towards women’s healthcare and proper sex education, or just a bunch of really not good things he has said. However, we need to remember that the party is more than just him and there is more to worry about. Therefore, it is even easier to say that a potential Conservative government is bad for the games and arts industry.

 Level Up Showcase, photo via author

Level Up Showcase, photo via author

 Toronto Comics and Arts Festival, photo via author

Toronto Comics and Arts Festival, photo via author

At a town hall meeting done by Interactive Ontario and speaking to party members about their platforms, the Conservatives didn’t even bother to show up. While the NDP, Liberal and Green party members took time to show up and discuss arts and media funding, tax credits, and other very relevant information, the PCs sit out and instead talk about finding 5.6 billion dollars of “efficiencies”. In the past, Ford himself has proposed massive cuts to library funding. The party has no choice but to cut spending to achieve their budget goals. The Ontario Media Development Corporation, Ontario Arts Council, and dozens of other grants and programs help create both economic development and culture in the province. The OMDC (and specifically the Interactive Digital Media Fund) provides $10 million annually in funding, to an industry that provides over $1.1 billion annually in revenue to Ontario. As reported in 2017 by the Financial Post, and the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, the games industry in Ontario is home to 171 game companies that provide over 3800 jobs to highly skilled workers. These companies can exist thanks to tax credits, grants, and a support system that has previously flourished over the last decade of liberal government. 

The PCs talk about supporting business but it isn’t as simple as cutting taxes by percentage points, there is an entire system that will be compromised by the proposed cuts. Post-secondary education in the industry, such as schools like Sheridan, Seneca, or OCAD rely on the support of non-profit organizations and government funding. Here in Toronto groups/events like The Hand Eye Society, TCAF, Dames Making Games, Level Up Showcase, and the Toronto Game Jam, receive important funding from media and arts grants and provincial support. These organizations and events give community to the industry, give guidance to independent developers, and help shape the future industry leaders. Looking at the Toronto Comics and Arts Festival for example, as reported by Comicsbeat in 2015, TCAF is the most popular and profitable indie comic creator showcase in North America. It does wonders for the city in terms of tourism, it helps support independent creators, and fosters a sense of community. These organizations are the lifeblood of arts and culture in Ontario.

 Hand Eye Society Ball/Gala, photo via organization

Hand Eye Society Ball/Gala, photo via organization

 Dames Making Games, photo via organization

Dames Making Games, photo via organization

This is also a call to action for the remaining Liberal supporters. Support and vote NDP. We are in dire need of electoral reform in both this province and this country, and because of this, the Conservative party is going to get a majority government without the majority of the votes. That is a whole separate issue, but by throwing our weight behind a singular opposition, we can force the PCs into a minority government instead and give the NDP the power to fight them at every turn.

The official statement of Third Person and its editorial staff is we stand with, and in support of, the organizations and individuals who help make Ontario a home for game and arts development.
 

Growing up in a small town, going to school for graphic and web design and finally moving to Toronto, Colin began to look for a new project and landed on Third Person. He has always had a passion for video games and finally decided to do something about it. Inspired by websites like Giant Bomb, Polygon, and Waypoint, Colin has founded Third Person with the intent of covering games using a mix of the old and the new.

Colin loves to dive into RPGs of all kinds, exploring their worlds and developing his character. Well-crafted stories draw him in too, and he is always on the lookout for a new adventure.

When he's not spending a billion years in a game's character creator, he can be found behind his camera, reading comic books or probably sleeping.

Some of his favorite games: Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen, Alpha Protocol, Mass Effect, Overwatch, Life is Strange, Persona 4