When Adam Proctor of Uken Games started the Toronto Unity User Group in August 2013, fifty people arrived for the first meetup. Just sixteen months later, the group has 620+ members drawn from across Toronto’s vibrant game development scene.
“There are lots of small game studios, and freelance developers in Toronto and, of course, a lot of them use Unity. About half the people working at Uken Games use Unity too,” says Adam.
Between 80 and 120 people are in attendance at a typical meetup which normally lasts about three hours. “At about 21:30 I try to start kicking people out,” laughs Adam. “When you’re working on your own at something, it’s really good to have an excuse to get together with other people in the same situation. You just need someone to talk to,” he continues.
There’s plenty of time for everyone to show off what they’re working on and to get feedback, comments and help. Each meetup also includes a presentation, sometimes someone will be invited to showcase their work, or, perhaps, there’ll be a visit from a Unity developer or evangelist.
Unity’s grown to be a company with 650+ employees now, and they’re scattered all over the globe. As luck would have it, the team developing the new Unity UI were based in Toronto at the time, and they dropped by to show off the new features and workflows. Unity’s Americas Evangelist Carl Callewaert, who seems to more or less live in a plane, has also presented for them.
Uken Games’ growth story is, if anything, even more incredible than Unity’s. In 2009 the company numbered just three people; now there are over 70, and they’re still recruiting.
“It’s hard to quantify just how many people have found work through the User Group,” says Adam, “but, as a company we definitely feel that hosting it and providing refreshments is an expense that we can justify. It’s really important for us to be part of the local Unity community.”
At any rate, lots of people have found full time work through the group, and not just at Uken. Of course, it’s also a great place for small local teams to find collaborators. Indeed Adam’s looking at ways to formalize things and make it even easier for people to connect.
A developer by trade, Adam’s role at Uken Games is as a Project Lead, guiding games to completion. The company like their titles to be cross-platform and global. Family fun title Bingo Pop is available in 12 languages across Android, iOS and Facebook, while upcoming realtime battler Loot Quest is scheduled for release in early 2015.
If there isn’t a Unity User Group near you, why not start one? You can read Unity Evangelist Joe Robins’ top tips for starting a Unity user group here. If you want your Unity user group listed, or are interested in a visit from Unity, reach out to Unity Lead Evangelist Carl Callewaert via carl[at]unity3d.com.
A few pictures from recent Toronto Unity User Group meetings: