I know that it is incredibly old school to read a newspaper while waiting for a BLT in a pub at lunchtime while out shopping, but I was in an old school kinda mood today. Flipping through the weekend 'Life' section of the Gazette, I discovered that the City was hosting 'Design Montreal's Open House', an open-doors day for some 40 Montreal design firms including those representing Landscaping and City Planning, Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Architecture, Interior Design and Fashion Design.
Apparently, on May 12th of last year, UNESCO named Montreal a 'City of Design' an honor held by only two other cities in the world - Berlin and Buenos Aires.
So needless to say, while it is very cool that the City is sponsoring this event to bring public interest and attention toward all the different forms of design, and while I'm super excited to see if I can take advantage of this and get out and see some things, I can't help but wonder two things.
First, why in the world would UNESCO not include Game Design - or at least more broadly - Interactive Design, in this list of design disciplines being recognized? When I was in Paris last year, I got to see - and interact with - a wonderful interactive installation that is in front of the UNESCO HQ and L'Ecole Militaire in Paris. They know what Interactive Design IS if they are commissioning an interactive installation of this magnitude. Surely given the strength and importance of Montreal's game design community, we deserve to be included with our fellow professional designers in this. Also, I find it surprising that someone in the field of Landscape Design, Urban Planning or Architecture would not have spoken up about the absence of Game Design given the fact that a little video game is probably single-handedly more responsible for bringing a generalized appreciation of the importance of those fields to the public at large than is any other single source.
Second, as a professional, award winning designer whose work has been experienced by millions of people, and who works for a firm employing a handful of designers who are arguably among the best game designers on earth - a firm which has likewise won several, if not dozens of important, internationally recognized awards for design... why in the world would I have never even heard of this? Clearly part of the City's goal in hosting this 'Open House' is to increase public awareness of Montreal's importance as a cultural hub for design... but shit... it might help if the designers themselves knew about it.
The article says that the City and the Province want to establish the Open House as a yearly event. Good. So now I have another side mission, which is to get Game and Interactive Design added to the UNESCO recognition and see at least one Montreal game company in included in the Open House for next year.
With all the continual talk about media convergence in face of the sad reality that all games can ever be in relation to film is some kind of bastard step-child, shouldn't we be going out of our way to celebrate the things that make us distinct and different? Especially in Canada? Doubly so in Montreal? Game Design is - not surprisingly I hope - a design field. We should start acting like it and make sure that we are considered and recognized as such by a world of designers who are our colleagues.