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November 03, 2007

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That's basically the main reason I moved here. Now I just need to find and/or become qualified for one of these hundreds of new positions...

Out of curiosity, is Montreal game development 100% English based?

What about Seattle...it has to be up there as well.

I commented on this on VGVC.net, btw.

And on the comparison with other areas.

(1) I don't think Vancouver is as big. Do you? Other than EA, who are the other major employers in the area?

(2) Seattle is definitely larger. MS of course has a ton of people in development. If you include all of Xbox (HW, SW, etc) its probably larger than that 4000 figure. Add to that Real/Gamehouse, Rad Game tools, Oberon, Valve, Popcap, Bungie, Vivendi/Sierra, Wild tangent, and I'm sure there are others I'm not thinking of, and it's probably easily 8k people.

Buenos Aires/greater Argentina is about 500 or maybe 600, but its been growing at a similar rate to Montreal over the past couple of years. I expect it to go up to 400% growth a year by 2009.

Boston's at about 1500 right now. We've been up and down over the years. I wouldn't necessarily expect linear growth out of Montreal, although that's only speaking from my knowledge of Boston's history. We don't have any big publishers here, whereas Montreal has two, so it's certainly a very different situation.

Hopefully I'll learn more at my first MIGS in a few weeks!

Manveer - we have developers from all over the world here. People speak whatever language gets the job done. It's the most multilingual environment I have ever seen. I don't even know what '100% english based' means...

Mundinator - of course, yeah - I forgot Seattle, which is certainly bigger - probably even if you don't include XBox.

Kim - Vancouver also has Radical - which I think counts 300-500 people. Plus they have a large number of smaller developers of 30-60 people or more... lot's of them... but you're right, maybe Montreal is bigger now.

Darius - Montreal has more than 2 major publishers. We have Ubi, EA, Activision and Eidos here now. Given that both Eidos and Ubi both have significant growth plans (I don't know what EA and ATVI plans are) I see no reason for growth to slow in the next year.

All I meant by 100% English based was does everyone speak English in the workplace. You answered that by saying, they speak whatever gets the job done.

Compare that to where I live, in Madison, WI - this is a predominantly white area (I am one of a handful of minorities at my company) and everyone speaks English always.

Since Montreal has a large French contingent, I was trying to get to the point of, if someone who only spoke English wanted to work in Montreal, would that be a problem or would it be necessary to learn French? It sounds like it's not required, but it would never hurt (and that's probably true for LIVING in Montreal, but I would have no idea seeing as I've never been to the area).

Manveer,

To expand on what Clint was saying: Essentially, no; not everyone in the studio speaks English. You'll run into folks (both Quebec locals as well as some of Ubi's French staffers who are working in Montreal on a project) who are mainly francophone. But almost everyone I've met here who is in a management capacity (producers, leads, etc.) is functionally bilingual and there are certainly a few leads that only speak English.

I would say that your willingness (or outright desire) to learn at least some French will go along way towards determining the quality of your experience here. I think that anyone who has done any serious travel abroad (i.e. not just to places where they expect to be understood in English) would have no trouble here. But most of us have at one time or another experienced feelings of isolation after moving here, even if it's not caused by any purposeful behavior. It's something that passes with time.

A more challenging issue has been family/spouses of transplanted employees, since most employers in Montreal are a lot more stringent than Ubisoft in their expectation of fluent bilingualism. It can be very difficult for significant others who are accustomed to having a broad range of work opportunities to suddenly find those options limited.

Old geezer comment - I went to the first GDC in a hotel, fall of 1988 and about 180 attendees - and although I knew that there were many more game developers in the US (much less the world) than that, it was by far the largest gathering I'd ever seen face to face. Even at CES, our pre-E3 gathering place you didn't see all the game development people in one place and that was when the 8-bit systems were still around so there just weren't many people.

I only really have anecdotal evidence for this, but the game development community in the Bay Area is not growing nearly as fast as other areas, especially the Santa Monica/Orange County/San Diego corridor. It may even be shrinking as there is a lot more competition from non-game tech companies.

I was comparing Montreal's virtual girth against Vancouver's a few weeks ago when I was talking there and most people seemed to think Montreal had now taken the lead (in Canada).

A good resource for Vancouver's developer listings, by the way, is their IGDA chapter page -- http://www.igda.org/vancouver/devlist.htm

Lots of smaller studios...

I’ve been working in Montréal for just over a year, and even though many do speak English at my place, you’ll find many people prefer to speak French between each other, you can't blame them since its their first language.

This isn’t much of a problem for most but it can make you feel a bit one the outside, and sometimes maybe even hinder your development as a worker when only conversations you’ll understand are those that are directed at you directly. Learning a language takes time, I know since I speak 3 so even if you do find time to take intense lessons it would probably take you few years before you can understand and jump into conversations.

There is always a give/take situation when you want to work on interesting projects ;) so depends how much does it matters to you, some people don’t mind, they just come to work and get on with their job. :)

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