British Columbia

Vancouver video game company tops the charts with The Office

Vancouver's East Side Games general manager Josh Nilson hopes the game's success will further bolster B.C.'s reputation as a tech hub.

Vancouver game developer wants tech to be the new 'blue collar job' for the province

Vancouer's East Side Games has launched a new videogame continuing the adventures of the popular television series. (East Side Games)

A Vancouver-based video game company has hit the top of the Apple and Google download charts with a new mobile game based on the popular TV show The Office

And East Side Games general manager Josh Nilson, who is originally from a small community north of Prince George, hopes the game's success will further bolster B.C.'s reputation as a tech hub and attract more people from all backgrounds to the industry.

The company has already developed games based on popular TV shows including RuPaul's Drag Race and Trailer Park Boys, but getting the rights to the American version of The Office was a major boost, he said.

Even though the program has been off the air for nearly 10 years, it still has a large fan following and regularly tops streaming charts as people re-watch the show's nine seasons.

The game, titled The Office: Somehow We Manage, has players working at the fictional workplace Dunder Mifflin, interacting with characters and reliving iconic moments from the series. 

Like his previous games, Nilson wanted The Office: Somehow We Manage to feel like a continuation of fan's favourite TV shows.

"We like [the games] to be an addition to the [show's] universe that we build on," he said. 

Developing games a 'blue collar job'

Ironically, Nilson said his story is one that proves you don't need to work in an office in order to find success.

After growing up in Willow River, a small community north of Prince George, B.C., Nilson worked in the hospitality industry for 20 years before transitioning into game development.

And while he's now based in Vancouver, Nilson says the pandemic has made the technology industry even more decentralized, allowing people to work from anywhere.

Josh Nilson, who grew up north of Prince George, B.C., wants people of all backgrounds to work in the video game industry. (East Side Games)

"They don't have to move to Vancouver or Victoria to work in a game studio," he said. "You can work from where you live."

Video games, in particular, are a growing industry. According to the Entertainment Software Association of Canada, 8,700 full-time equivalent jobs in the games industry were created in B.C. between 2019 and 2021, representing an increase of 19 per cent. 

And last fall, B.C.'s economic recovery minister Ravi Kahlon said the provincial government is focused on creating more opportunities in the sector for under-represented groups, including Indigenous people, women, immigrants and people with disabilities.

That's something Nilson wants to be a part of: as a Métis man from rural B.C., he wants to prove that people of all backgrounds can work in the video game and technology industries.

"You may not think you can work in tech, but tech is for everyone," he said. 

"I think tech is the next blue collar job."

Local tech company is turning the TV show "The Office" into a mobile game. East Side Games CEO Josh Nilson talks about what it took to make the popular show into a game and what other shows could be getting a similar treatment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melody Jacobson

Associate Producer, CBC British Columbia

Melody Jacobson is a CBC Vancouver associate producer. You can reach her at Melody.Jacobson@cbc.ca and on Twitter @MelodyDottir.

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