Game Changers: Innovation and technology in downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver’s Nouspace Gallery (1015 Main St., Vancouver) is hosting a WSU Vancouver exhibit this month called “Game Changers.” The exhibit, which runs through March 28, shines the light on how video games have impacted business, education, health and communication.

Dene Grigar, director of the Digital Technology and Culture Program at WSU, said the exhibit is helping to “integrate our program into downtown Vancouver.”

Anyone who takes a look at the space will see some familiar titles, such as Pac-Man, but more recent gaming platforms are also present, such as tablet games and the Oculus Rift – a virtual reality headset that puts you in the middle of the action.

By showing some classics and more recent advancements in the gaming world, the exhibit aims to showcase innovations that have come from the industry over the last few decades.

“We really wanted to focus on the innovations that have come out of video games,” said Kate Palermini, a WSU student and assistant curator of the show. “Not just for games themselves, but also for businesses, health and other things like that.”

The expo fits perfectly with the Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ) in downtown Vancouver – a designation from the Washington State Department of Commerce to help attract more technology companies.

“This space represents the creative space that is possible in Vancouver,” noted Grigar.

One tech company that recently moved to the downtown area is Garagegames. The company is also a sponsor of the Game Changers exhibit.

“We make game development tools, educational games and the big thing we are working on now is making a curriculum for high school students to teach them computer science,” explained Eric Preisz, Garagegames’ CEO.

Preisz said he and his employees have enjoyed their first 10 months in Vancouver, after having moved from Las Vegas.

“The employees are really happy here,” he said. “The quality of life they get out of the area has been the thing they talk about.”

Mike Bomar, president of the Columbia River Economic Development Council, served in an advisory role for the Game Changers event. He said Vancouver itself is in a “game-changing mode,” citing the waterfront redevelopment as an example and adding there is “a lot of interest [from technology companies] in the area.”

While he was unable to name names, Bomar said he is currently talking to a number of prospects.

“There are prospects, and some very large ones,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of momentum from other successes we’ve had in the region.”

We can expect to see more technology in the downtown area in the future, but until then you can take a look at the Game Changers exhibit on Fridays and Saturdays from 12-5 p.m.

For more information on the exhibit, visit https://dtc-wsuv.org/gamechangers.

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