In a nondescript office building at 1435 St-Alexandre, just blocks from the Quartier des Spectacles, there’s a potential new gathering place for the city’s indie gaming ecosystem.
GamePlay Space also happens to occupy the same spot as Execution Labs, Montreal’s successful indie game incubator/accelerator, but there’s a big difference between the two. In a sense, GamePlay Space is trying to capture the sense of community that Execution Labs originally wanted.
“Execution Labs is first and foremost a business space and everyone has to work really hard,” explains Bart Simon, GamePlay Space board member. “This is meant to be a social space. There are other good shared workspaces in Montreal, but the reason why we all pushed for this is to try to create more genuine community space.”
A not-for-profit venture, GamePlay Space sounds like a pretty typical shared workspace for developers looking to move past the home business phase but not ready for an office of their own. You can buy a fixed or mobile membership for up to nine months at a time, but besides a desk and conference room access, being a member also allows you to make decisions on how the space is run.
The goal is for the space to become a loose, friendly Cheers for people who work on indie games: a place where everybody knows your name. At any given time, members will be there swapping ideas or experiences, subcontracting work to other members of the community or building future partnerships. In a place like Execution Labs, where everyone is hustling hard to make deadlines and get games to market, there isn’t too much downtime. At GamePlay Space, a membership is supposed to mean more than just a desk and chair.
“In Toronto or other cities, you could have a space like this and no one would bat an eyelash,” says Simon. “Is (GamePlay Space) going to be the catalyst that has been missing in the indie movement in Montreal? It’s an exciting question.”
The first three teams to join the space are Execution Labs alumni Norsfell, Ultimate Chicken Horse creators Clever Endeavour Games and Henry Smith, maker of the beloved party game Spaceteam. ■