Ontario’s Interactive Digital Media Industry Offers A Wealth Of Diverse Opportunities
Career Opportunities For those interested in a career in interactive digital media (IDM), Ontario is an excellent place to be.
A growing industry
According to the Canadian Interactive Alliance, Ontario is home to an estimated one-third of Canada’s IDM companies. The IDM sector in Ontario is growing each year and currently provides 17,000 full time jobs in the province.
While most people associate interactive digital media with gaming — and that is indeed the largest subsector — interactive media is currently transforming a diverse array of industries. Digital media’s relevance within so many other industries offers unique opportunities for grads looking for innovative, forward-thinking jobs.
Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children offers a prime example of the cross-pollination between digital media and other sectors. Their recent collaborations between healthcare professionals and app development companies have resulted in the creation of both an app to help young patients track their pain symptoms in a gamified environment (allowing them to earn badges as they participate), and an app to help doctors more easily and accurately determine medication dosages for those same patients. The latter has been downloaded in more than 25 countries — a fact that highlights Ontario’s place as a global leader for IDM and a highly export-focused sector.
Education is another area that is seeing innovation through digital media interventions. Every1Games, currently part of the prestigious American Express Ashoka Changemakers Emerging Innovators program, is a GTA-based company that helps youth on the autism spectrum build valuable life skills through the medium of video game development. By tapping into the possibilities for learning through IDM with summer and March break programs, Every1Games allows students to engage in new ways and shines a light on the potential for growth in the connected learning space.
"The growth in Ontario’s interactive digital media industry can be attributed to many factors, one of which is a system of generous tax credits and grants for companies working in gaming, eLearning and other forms of digital media."
As sectors such as these look to improve their effectiveness through the use of digital media, opportunities for digital media strategists, developers and producers to embrace new challenges and create important work will continue to grow.
Ontario’s unique opportunities
The growth in Ontario’s interactive digital media industry can be attributed to many factors, one of which is a system of generous tax credits and grants for companies working in gaming, eLearning and other forms of digital media. Many people are familiar with film and television tax credits, but a similar credit — the Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit — is calculated at 40 percent of eligible expenditures related to the creation of IDM products. According to the Ontario Media Development Corporation, the administrator of the OIDMTC, 1,015 projects from 2012-2013 received tax credits with a value of $75,179,505.
This is certainly an enticing prospect for companies looking to start or expand their businesses in Ontario. Recent research by Interactive Ontario entitled Mapping Ontario’s Digital Economy has identified where the province’s IDM companies are located. The almost 1,000 companies — and growing — are located primarily in Toronto, Ottawa, Kitchener-Waterloo, Hamilton-Niagara, and London. And although those are the key clusters, the suitability of IDM to remote work means that there are opportunities across the province for those interested in a career in interactive media.
Ontario’s IDM industry is young and innovative. With its unique combination of technology, the arts and more, the industry needs skilled workers in a variety of disciplines and is an attractive option for tech-savvy new grads, no matter their preferred area of specialization.