Thursday, August 16, 2012

Project Play is gaming for the fans, by the fans

Vikas Sharma

In London, we're definitely fortunate to have a strong core of video game studios and ambitious independent developers creating games that are played around the world, and to host DIG, which brings the Canada’s best to the city, and showcases what our the companies in our region are creating.

But what about the fans?

After all, it is the fans that purchase the games, download the DLC, build communities and clans, debate minutia, and propel games to the top of the charts. While services like Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network, Steam and the internet as a whole have allowed gamers to virtually connect like never before, that often comes at the expense of creating a real, live community. 

A little more than a year and a half ago, I sat with Mathew Hoy of the Games Day Podcast as we talked about just that issue and asked the question "How could we bring London's video game fans and gaming industry together on a social level?"

We found success early on with our Hello My Game Is events (which will be returning in the future!), but there was still the one big question to be answered: could we bring together all the different gaming communities in our area, digital and otherwise, for one-day hands-on gaming event?

Project Play on Sunday, September 16 at the Fanshawe Student Centre is our answer, and the answer is an emphatic yes.

Project Play will feature video game developers from Southwestern Ontario showcasing their console, online and mobile games, along with tabletop, RPG and card gaming, tournaments run by local stores, the Gaming Gallery digital art show, a cosplay competition, anime screenings, gaming competitions, a tractor trailer filled with Sony's biggest titles and other great attractions. 

While we originally focused Project Play primarily on video games, we really underestimated the enthusiasm amongst other gaming groups to be part of an event like this, and the response has been fantastic. Where once we expected to have mostly video games, now we'll have miniature battles to check out, card games to learn, amazing hand-made costumes to see, and new people to meet who share your passions.

But, within this fun day, there was also a tremendous opportunity to do something more. Something arguably much more important.

As gamers, we enjoy the fantastic worlds that games allow us to explore, the adventures and escapism they provide. In that spirit, we saw Project Play as a chance to create a lasting legacy by providing gaming opportunities to children who don’t have the same gaming options we have. We will play today, so that they can play tomorrow.

All proceeds from Project Play will be used to provide gaming bundles to organizations that support children and families, especially those experiencing difficult and traumatic times. With the money raised from the event, and donations leveraged from our industry partners, we will donate bundles of video game consoles, games and other family-oriented entertainment to organizations doing great work in our community.

First on our list are Merrymount Children's Centre and the Women's Rural Resource Centre of Strathroy and Area, but the more tickets we sell and the more money we raise, the more organizations we can support. So don’t just think of your $10 as the price of admission, think of it as a $10 contribution towards lifting the spirits of children.

To learn more about Project Play, you see the constantly growing line-up of exhibitors, and to purchase tickets and support the day's charitable efforts, visit

Greg Picken is the co-founder of, a family-oriented review site, and the lead organizer of Project Play.
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