Services for entreprises Rue St-Jean, Vieux-Québec - Crédit: Chantal Gagnon

Key sectors

Applied technologies

Major innovative projects = healthy economy

National School of Interactive
One-of-a-kind industry-oriented
training facility

Located in the Édifice de la Fabrique in the heart of downtown Quebec City, the National School of Interactive Entertainment (ENDI) was launched in 2008.

National School of Interactive Entertainment (ENDI)
  • Founded in 2008
  • Current enrolment: 30 students (2008-2009 academic year)
  • Enrolment levels will gradually increase to 200 students per year by 2013
  • A continuing education component will be developed for individuals seeking to broaden their knowledge of new consoles or to explore a different professional area
  • ENDI partners: Beenox, Frima Studio, Humagade, Sarbakan, Longtail Studios, Ubisoft, Limoilou Cégep, Sainte Foy Cégep, Laval University and the University of Quebec

Its mission is to provide an innovative program balancing academic training and practical work experience. Local video game companies now have access to a pool of qualified workers who can integrate seamlessly into their project teams.

It’s no secret: the video game sector is booming and Quebec now ranks as one of the key production centres worldwide. Over the past few years, the Quebec City region has been in virtual overdrive, with major players such as Ubisoft setting up operations. Overall, the regional sector has grown at a phenomenal rate: more than 300% over the past three years, with staffing requirements expected to increase in the coming years. The various stakeholders—companies, educational institutions, various levels of government—met back in 2006 to determine how best to support this growth, and ENDI is the culmination of their efforts.

“The initiative actually stemmed from a meeting with representatives of the Quebec City IT sector,” says Alain Aubut, ENDI’s managing director. “The interactive entertainment companies stated clearly that they were going to need more people who were trained and ready to go. So ENDI was created in response to industry requirements.”

In the past, the need to quickly recruit qualified candidates for ongoing projects had led to production delays. Geared towards young adults who have already completed the related technical training, ENDI thus serves as a launching pad for those seeking a smoother entry into the video game sector. The school’s industrial diploma program also helps students develop skills they could not acquire at traditional institutions.

A custom-tailored program

“We looked at the best video game training programs around the world and selected the most interesting features. So we’re different from everyone else out there,” says Mr. Aubut.

Rather than focusing on the acquisition of technical knowledge, ENDI’s training program emphasizes transferable and interpersonal skills such as teamwork, as well as stress and deadline management. In some ways, the program complements the skills and knowledge acquired in a traditional bachelor’s or college degree program. However, there are no courses during the 12-week program; instead, students learn in a highly realistic production environment. “Every year, we will be designing and delivering a high-quality video game that will be entered in international competitions. The student groups will either design a new game or work on an ongoing project and see it through to completion. It’s a very rewarding experience because it emphasizes adaptability—an essential on-the-job requirement!”

In addition to gaining concrete experience in their craft—whether as programmers, designers, 2D or 3D artists, modelers or texturers—the students work together in a multi-disciplinary team using industry-approved techniques. “A professional executive producer, rather than a professor, evaluates the students’ progress and ensures that the project is delivered on time and to the required quality standards. Just like in the real world!”

According to Mr. Aubut, two other factors contribute to ENDI’s unique role. “Each student gets a chance to be mentored by someone who’s already working in the video game industry. And guest speakers and industry professionals regularly stop by to meet with the students and discuss their own career paths.”

A wealth of talent

Reflecting its innovative approach, ENDI has a unique organizational structure, with industry and institutional stakeholders from around the region meeting periodically to share their expertise and establish performance benchmarks. “ENDI is a vibrant place, constantly changing in response to industry needs,” notes Mr. Aubut. “Our presence fosters industry-wide cooperation and creativity. We create a playing field that’s very helpful for interactive entertainment firms and other companies hoping to establish a presence in Quebec City.”

According to Chantal Cloutier, director of communications for Ubisoft Quebec, ENDI is a prized asset for companies that do end up relocating to Quebec City. “As a result of this initiative, we now have access to a pool of highly qualified individuals with cutting-edge value-added skills. ENDI will undoubtedly serve to reinforce our position as a global centre of excellence.” The local video game development boom is likely to continue for a number of reasons: “Quebec has a great combination of winning features, like strong creativity and technological expertise. The talent in Quebec City and the surrounding areas is highly impressive. Even though Ubisoft already had a large studio in Montreal, we obviously needed to be closer to where all the outstanding candidates are!”

Thanks in part to the National School of Interactive Entertainment and its talented graduates, the Quebec City region is building an enviable worldwide reputation!

Véronique Lord

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