Interview: Victor Lucas

(Top Photo Credit: Jorge Figueiredo)

If you’re a Canadian with a passing interest in video games, you’ve probably seen Victor Lucas. As creator and co-host of The Electric Playground, he’s been one of the most recognizable faces in gaming news and reviews (on the run) in Canada.

Five years ago he co-founded the Canadian Videogame Awards to showcase and celebrate the best games made in Canada. After a short mid-year hiatus, the show moved from a springtime broadcast in Vancouver to a November end-of-year gala in downtown Toronto.

We spoke with Lucas briefly about the genesis (not Mega Drive) of the awards show, whether there’s a future for games with more Canadiana in their subject matter, and the upcoming Game Awards in Las Vegas, for which he serves as a judge.

Victor Lucas (Photo by Jorge Figueiredo)
Victor Lucas (Photo by Jorge Figueiredo)


Dork Shelf: What was your role in starting the awards?

Victor Lucas: I pitched it to my partner, Greg Spivak at Reboot Communications, and it’s his company and mine that put this show on. I basically said, “Greg, I’ve been covering video games for almost 15 years (this was five years ago, so 20 years now), and so much of the incredible content I’m talking about these days is made in Canada. And we don’t celebrate that in any meaningful way.”

There isn’t any recognition in a public setting, that shines a spotlight on all of these companies and these people, and I said we should do a Canadian video game awards. And so that kickstarted it five years ago.

DS: How has the reception and visibility of the awards grown in the past five years?

VL: It blows me away. It gets covered a lot by Canadian organizations; people talk about it on the radio and on TV, on the newspapers and online, but what blows me away is the international impact it’s had, too. They’re picked up everywhere, and I think that speaks to the significance and the reason these exist. There’s a curiosity about it, but I also think that people into the material and from this country, understand that it should happen.

This year – well, it’s a bad example because Far Cry 4 and Dragon Age: Inquisition weren’t finished in time to be nominated, which is really unfortunate, because those are two of the best video games in the world, and they were made in our country. But our 2014 lineup of Game of the Year nominees are very strong. Our 2013 nominees are very strong (we missed last year).

DS: Can you explain why you’re doing 2013 and 2014’s awards in one night?

VL: We usually did it in the spring, so we would have done 2013’s games in Vancouver, but we said, “Nope, it’s time to move this up a little bit, and centralize it a little bit.” We’ve had people come from around the country in years prior. Now let’s move it to Toronto. It’ll be an easier travel for most of the developers, and it will also be a little more high-profile. More media is around.

(Photo by Jorge Figueiredo)
(Photo by Jorge Figueiredo)


DS: There are a lot of games made in Canada that aren’t necessarily very “Canadian.” The notable exception is Hinterland’s The Long Dark. Should that change?

VL: I totally agree. I think it’s one of the things that we are missing in games development: more risk taking, more cultural pride, and more ways to tell stories and more challenging opportunities for players.

This country is incredible. We can say that like just a general platitude, or just an off-hand remark, but this country is truly incredible. The geography, the different types of people and stories that exist across this country – it’s ripe for lots of interactive entertainment, and I hope The Long Dark does very well tonight.

But more importantly it inspires developers in this country to make games that are set here, and developed not just for our citizens, but for the entire world. Everybody in the world thinks our country is cool. And the only people who, I think, get blasé about it are Canadians. We should be proud of not only what we make here that represents other parts of the world, but what we can make here that represents Canada.

DS: You’re also a judge for The Game Awards. Those are run by Geoff Keighley. Is there something to be said that the organizers of video game awards nights are run by Canadians?

VL: I think that’s also emblematic. Well look, David Hayter just walked past me. He’s Canadian. We get it here, we love it here, we’re good at it, and I think another big key ingredient is that we’re collaborative. We’re a society of people that help each other, and get along, and it’s very hard to build this stuff, and I think we just have a natural appreciation for it.