"One thing I noticed since my arrival in Toronto is that in Montreal, the industry is more established," she says. "Both cities have chosen very different paths to develop their industry. In Toronto, the video game industry was conceived by small independent producers, some of whom have grown up, while still staying independent at heart. They still have a great passion for the environment they developed."
Lesley Phord-Toy admits that the arrival of Ubisoft’s studio, which is expected to employ 800 employees within the next few years, has not been seen in a positive light by everyone. "The industry in Ontario is very diverse, firms have their own styles and goals. Many have openly expressed their fears at the arrival of a company the size of Ubisoft. And we at Ubisoft must understand that what works in Montreal does not necessarily work in Toronto. This is the reason that my colleagues and I wanted to get involved in the Toronto chapter of the IGDA." Is this a sign of openness on the part of businesses in Toronto? Lesley Phord-Toy was elected president of IGDA Toronto, replacing Josh Druckman, CEO of Dark Matter Entertainment Inc. and Northlogic Inc., who gave up his place after eight years as head of the organization.
Lesley Phord-Toy believes that the video game industry in Toronto presents more challenges than its counterpart in Montreal: "In Montreal, all businesses are within walking distance of each other, you can easily walk from one to another. In Toronto, the businesses are spread throughout the city, some are found in St. Catherines, others in Etobicoke. Dialogue is more difficult to establish in these conditions."
The size of companies also differs greatly. In Ontario, games are developed by teams of 2, 5 or 10 people, whereas it took a hundred people to develop Assassin’s Creed. "I get the impression that there is currently a movement among independent developers," says Lesley Phord-Toy. "They innovate game play, they look for ways to make games more interesting. Moreover, small independents create and develop their own intellectual properties. I must say they can’t afford the licenses. There is also, in Ontario, a whole sector that works in services and outsourcing. Of course, there are companies like Ubisoft, and Rockstar Games which develop triple-A games. I’m also thinking of Silicon Nights, which has been in the business for a long time."
The young woman claims to be thrilled to work in Toronto: "There’s a different vibe, people are very creative and their passion is contagious. You get the feeling that Toronto has many development opportunities. There is a lot of diversity here. And independents are proud of their independence. Moreover, these independent companies are well organized, with another association in The Hand Eye Society (http://handeyesociety.com). One of my goals as chair of IGDA Toronto is to get beyond the perceptions of independents and the big studios." [SB]
Lesley Phord-Toy has worked on these titles:
- MySims Racing (2009) - Wii - EA
- Mercenaries 2: World in Flames (2008) - PS2 - Pandemic, EA
- Spider-Man: Friend or Foe (2007) - PSP - Activision, Marvel, Columbia Pictures
- Happy Feet (2006) - PS2, NGC, Wii (Launch Title), PC - Midway, Warner Bros.
- Ed, Edd ’n Eddy: The Mis-Edventures (2005) - PS2, XBOX, NGC, PC - Midway, Warner
- Bros., Cartoon Network, AKA Cartoon.
- Scaler (2004) - PS2, XBOX, NGC - Take 2 Interactive, Global Star.
Lesley Phord-Toy’s Experience:
[June 30, 2011]
- Producer at Ubisoft
- Producer at Artificial Mind and Movement (A2M)
- Chief programmer-games at Artificial Mind and Movement (A2M)
- Ingenious software at Sony VFX
- Ingenious 3D (Internal) Softimage
- 3D Tools (Internal) at Electronic Arts
- Visual Systems Research (Internal) at Industry Canada
- Software Engineer (Intern) at EveryWare Development
Send this IT news to a friend