Eric Jor­dan

The CEO of Vic­to­ria's Co­de­name Entertainment shares his thoughts on why video games are good for chil­dren–and for B.C.'S econ­omy

BC Business Magazine - - The Conversation - By Mar­cie Good

Eric Jor­dan ex­pected to be debt-rid­den and un­em­ploy­able when he grad­u­ated from Uvic with a fine arts de­gree, spe­cial­iz­ing in painting, in 1993. In­stead, he co-founded an en­ter­prise soft­ware com­pany, Pureedge So­lu­tions Inc., which sold to IBM Corp. 12 years later. Jor­dan joined founders David Whit­taker and Justin Stocks as a part­ner in Vic­to­ri­abased Co­de­name Entertainment Inc. in 2012. This sum­mer the 18-em­ployee video game stu­dio an­nounced a li­cens­ing agree­ment with Seat­tle-based Wiz­ards of the Coast LLC to pro­duce its own ti­tle un­der the Dun­geons & Dragons brand.

Jor­dan has shared his pas­sion for the video game in­dus­try as a board mem­ber and chair of VIATEC (Vic­to­ria In­no­va­tion, Ad­vanced Tech­nol­ogy and En­trepreneur­ship Coun­cil) and as a di­rec­tor of Di­gibc. As pres­i­dent of the Premier's Tech­nol­ogy Coun­cil in 2010, he helped author a re­port out­lin­ing a vi­sion for K-12 ed­u­ca­tion that in­formed the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion's re­designed cur­ricu­lum.

What does this deal with Wiz­ards of the Coast mean to your com­pany?

It's fan­tas­tic be­cause the reach of Wiz­ards is so much broader than Co­de­name has, so the abil­ity to work with them and ride their coat­tails some­what in terms of dis­tri­bu­tion, reach and aware­ness around the brand is re­ally great. Dun­geons & Dragons is such an iconic brand. It was the first role-play­ing game, so if you think of games like World of War­craft or Skyrim or Witcher, the ideas on which they're based orig­i­nated in D&D.

This is full cir­cle for you, re­turn­ing to a game from your child­hood.

That was def­i­nitely a big part of our abil­ity to have Wiz­ards feel com­fort­able. They felt that we re­ally got this brand. Also, the kind of genre of game we're mak­ing, idle click­ers, our Cru­saders of the Lost Idols has done re­ally well. So we could talk about that game and how we felt it was a good fit with D&D.

Are video games bad for kids?

I think we're at a point where there are two nar­ra­tives around video games in our so­ci­ety. One, they are bad for you or at best neu­tral, and that's the dom­i­nant nar­ra­tive that gets re­played by me­dia. And then there is an­other nar­ra­tive aris­ing from re­search, and that is that not only are th­ese games not neu­tral, they're pos­i­tive, and you ac­tu­ally learn a huge amount. So let's take that stereo­type of the reclu­sive boy in his par­ents' base­ment play­ing video games. Odds are that he's play­ing a so­cial game, and he has quite a net­work of peo­ple he's play­ing with. Let's say he's play­ing World of War­craft, and he is do­ing that with a raiding guild [a group of play­ers fo­cused on com­plet­ing a raid], and they have roles, and he's learn­ing lead­er­ship and work­ing with groups of peo­ple.

What was Pureedge So­lu­tions, the com­pany you sold to IBM be­fore join­ing Co­de­name Entertainment?

At the be­gin­ning we weren't quite sure what we were. My part­ner [David Man­ning] and I started it as a univer­sity re­search project. But what we grew into was an en­ter­prise soft­ware com­pany sell­ing highly spe­cial­ized elec­tronic form soft­ware, which would man­age very com­plex trans­ac­tions that re­quired lots of se­cu­rity.

How is run­ning a video game com­pany dif­fer­ent from sell­ing en­ter­prise soft­ware?

At Pureedge we would do two soft­ware re­leases a year. Here we push up­dates to our games ev­ery week. So I wanted to be in a world where we could fo­cus on our play­ers and it­er­ate re­ally quickly on the feed­back from play­ers. And that seemed to me like the best model that you could re­ally scale and grow. So I thought, “Hey, this thing I love, gam­ing, now can fit within the things I'm look­ing for in a busi­ness model.”

Your stu­dio part­ners with Vic­to­ria School District on an in­tern­ship pro­gram that lets stu­dents work in dif­fer­ent as­pects of the com­pany. Why do you do that?

For years I worked in en­ter­prise soft­ware, and any time I talked to some­one in high school about, “You know, tech's ac­tu­ally a great place to work,” they're like, “What do you do?” “Oh, well, re­ally com­pli­cated elec­tronic form soft­ware.” And they're like, “Oh, please don't talk to me any­more.” But when you talk to them about video games, you can hold their in­ter­est.

In terms of the growth in the B.C. tech sec­tor, un­ques­tion­ably we have labour short­ages pro­jected for the fu­ture. So in my mind, that's where video games have a key role. Maybe only 5,000 work in video games out of over 100,000 peo­ple in tech, but it's the gate­way to the rest of those jobs.

How is the Vic­to­ria tech com­mu­nity dif­fer­ent from Van­cou­ver?

In Van­cou­ver, you've got Di­gibc, you've got Life­sciences BC, you've got BC Tech, and you've got other satel­lite groups as well. Whereas in Vic­to­ria, we've got VIATEC, and it was very in­ten­tional to have an em­brace-all phi­los­o­phy so we could keep VIATEC as the central point of the tech in­dus­try. One thing we were able to do a few years ago was to buy a build­ing where we now have in­cu­ba­tion space for startup com­pa­nies as well as a space that is used by all sorts of or­ga­ni­za­tions. It's a space that the whole com­mu­nity can get be­hind. One of the things that I'm re­ally proud about is that the com­mu­nity has not frac­tured.

What's with the kilt?

A few years ago I bought th­ese cool boots that lace up on the side. I wanted some­thing that al­lowed peo­ple to see my boots, and my wife sug­gested a kilt. I tried it, and it was in­cred­i­bly com­fort­able. Other than when I'm play­ing paint­ball, I pretty much al­ways wear a kilt.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.