Why Montréal is Incredibly Important to the Video Game Industry

Why Montréal is Incredibly Important to the Video Game Industry

If you’ve been in the new Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, you probably noticed that it isn’t your average airport experience. With towering screens featuring 3D images and the latest in high-resolution imaging, this installation isn’t just stunning—it responds to your movements and interactions. This kind of surreal experience is the work of Montréal’s Moment Factory, a company that produces interactive art using video game technology and special effects. We caught up with the mastermind behind this unique operation, Eric Fournier, to talk about how Montréal was the ideal place to nurture this kind of business and how the city is on the cutting edge of art.

AFAR: Where in Montréal can somebody find your work?

Eric Fournier: The city has been our laboratory. We’ve been doing some temporary stuff here, but we’re present on a permanent basis. We currently have a few installations around the city. One is at the Musée Pointe-à-Callière called Yours Truly, Montréal—a 17-minute immersive multimedia show of the history of this city. We also have installations at Casino de Montréal, Musée Grévin (pictured above), and La Vitrine.

How does the city give you inspiration?

EF: Montréal is a city that’s seen very important changes throughout the years. It was first founded by the French, but it’s the center of lots of cultures. It’s that mix of cultures that makes this city so creative. Every fall, new students from around the world come here and bring their energy, culture, and stories. With that new influx every year, what’s cool this year is different than last year, and next year will be different than this year. Montréal is dynamic, and is constantly being reinvented. It’s not about being bold and big, but rather everything grows underground. It’s just full of artists and creative people. Some of the largest video game producers are here. It’s like there’s something in the water; art is part of life in Montréal.

Seasons also have a huge impact on the life of the city. It was -15 here today in Montreal, but it was sunny and everyone was happy. You get something more with the seasons. You live in this city differently every season. We have an igloo festival during winter, some electronic festivals, some music festivals. People love this ability to live with the seasons.

Tell us more about the video game industry in Montréal.

EF: Montreal has the second- or third-largest video-game industry in the country. All of the big studios are here, and there are a couple of reasons for that. In the ’60s, the government encouraged the foundation of a number of laboratories for development of new media. Then, in the ’90s, the Quebec government offered a generous tax credit to video game companies, thinking that it would be a big new industry. It proved extremely successful. Companies like EA and Unisoft opened big studios here. Because we use video game technology in our installations, we work with them and use some of the same suppliers. Some of the work we do, especially interactive, is based on the same kind of principles that video games use.

Join us for AFAR Experiences in Montréal June 25-29!

Photo courtesy Moment Factory