Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Turning Off The Talent

Earlier this week I did an interview with a Concordia student who was doing research on Montreal as a hub of game development and what contributing factors I thought were leading to this growth.

Of course I rattled off the usual suspects. I focused on our ethnic diversity creating a melting pot of cultures and a strong mix of North-American and European cultural sensitivity; a good mix of both creative and technical schools and, of course, the infamous government subventions that make setting up shop here financially attractive for new studios.

As I was giving these points, though, I found myself wondering whether or not they would have the desired effect on me were I considering a move from California to Montreal. Are these the things we should be reinforcing to try and attract foreign talent?

I wonder if the Montreal development community repeats this rhetoric so consistently (creative and cultured) that we risk alienating talent due to a perception of ego and elitism. Sure Montreal has an excellent development climate, but so to do many other cities. I wonder if this message isn’t losing some weight in our quest to add new blood and new perspectives to our ranks.

As an aside, we then covered some of the issues I thought prevented people from wanting to work in Montreal: the perception of the city as being predominantly francophone; the hard winters and the effects on morale that an absolute salary drop can have (that is, it is hard to attract someone making $75,000 USD to Montreal with a salary of $55,000 CAD even if their actual standard of living would go up).

The next time someone asks me what I think makes the development industry here special, I'm going to try to answer the question without implying that Montrealers have some sort of cultural and creative superiority over other major hubs in our industy. I don't think its true and worry that in implying this during the interview I may have helped to reinforce a message that is driving away the very talent we need to attract to bring fresh perspectives to our wonderful development community.

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Anonymous Joel said...

Hey, I'm a Concordia student, about to grad and looking for meaningful, creative, gainful etc-ment. I'll ask it:

"What [do you] think makes the development industry here special?"

You acknowledged a need for a better answer, but you didn't bring it home.

12:35 AM  

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