Vancouver’s East Side Games general manager Josh Nilson hopes the game’s success will further bolster B.C.’s reputation as a tech hub.
A Vancouver-based video game company has hit the top of the Apple and Google download charts with a new mobile game based on the popular TV show The Office.
And East Side Games general manager Josh Nilson, who is originally from a small community north of Prince George, hopes the game’s success will further bolster B.C.’s reputation as a tech hub and attract more people from all backgrounds to the industry.
The company has already developed games based on popular TV shows including RuPaul’s Drag Race and Trailer Park Boys, but getting the rights to the American version of The Office was a major boost, he said.
Even though the program has been off the air for nearly 10 years, it still has a large fan following and regularly tops streaming charts as people re-watch the show’s nine seasons.
The game, titled The Office: Somehow We Manage, has players working at the fictional workplace Dunder Mifflin, interacting with characters and reliving iconic moments from the series.
Like his previous games, Nilson wanted The Office: Somehow We Manage to feel like a continuation of fan’s favourite TV shows.
“We like [the games] to be an addition to the [show’s] universe that we build on,” he said.
Developing games a ‘blue collar job’
Ironically, Nilson said his story is one that proves you don’t need to work in an office in order to find success.
After growing up in Willow River, a small community north of Prince George, B.C., Nilson worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years before transitioning into game development.
And while he’s now based in Vancouver, Nilson says the pandemic has made the technology industry even more decentralized, allowing people to work from anywhere.
“They don’t have to move to Vancouver or Victoria to work in a game studio,” he said. “You can work from where you live.”
Video games, in particular, are a growing industry. According to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, 8,700 full-time equivalent jobs in the games industry were created in B.C. between 2019 and 2021, representing an increase of 19 per cent.
And last fall, B.C.’s economic recovery minister Ravi Kahlon said the provincial government is focused on creating more opportunities in the sector for under-represented groups, including Indigenous people, women, immigrants and people with disabilities.
That’s something Nilson wants to be a part of: as a Métis man from rural B.C., he wants to prove that people of all backgrounds can work in the video game and technology industries.
“You may not think you can work in tech, but tech is for everyone,” he said.
“I think tech is the next blue collar job.”