TORONTO – DMG, a Toronto not-for-profit supporting marginalized and underrepresented creators working in games and interactive digital media, has successfully raised $100,000 for its Founder Support Fund. The fund, launched in November 2020, will provide equity-free grants to 10 studios participating in the first Damage Labs Studio Startup cohort.
With a focus on scale, sustainability and cooperative values, the Studio Startup program offers free tailored business, social impact and investment readiness training; plus individualized legal, accounting and platform support to small cohorts of new founders.
Key supporters include Hinterland Studio, Valve Corporation, Ubisoft Toronto, Level Curve and Clever Endeavour, who recognize the need for reduced barriers to accessing funding and training for founders from marginalized communities.
Istvan Tajnay, Managing Director of Ubisoft Toronto, says supporting new founders is crucial for sustaining Canada’s indie ecosystem. “We are thrilled to support DMG to reach its fundraising goal for the Damage Labs Founder Support Fund. One of the most exciting things about the games industry in Ontario is its thriving indie developer scene with a multitude of diverse voices and backgrounds – it is important for us to collaborate with DMG and its cohort studios to support their work in a meaningful way through funding and mentorship,” says Tajnay.
Studio startups are urgently in need of capital, but existing tools such as venture capital and project-based grants do not adequately meet the needs of underrepresented founders. Damage Labs is developing infrastructure for raising and deploying equity and hybrid capital to member studios at various stages in order to create more than financial returns for investors and contributors.
“The team at Level Curve is proud to endorse the Damage Labs Founder Support Fund. We believe it’s important to actively work toward removing barriers and creating sustainable studios,” says Robby Duguay, of Level Curve, a Toronto-based game audio collective. “As we make room for new voices in the industry and raise up marginalized creators, we are excited to support this positive change in the industry.”
Participant Jess Rowan Marcotte, a member of the Soft Chaos game studio, says Damage Labs has helped cut through aspects of starting a company that are intimidating and complex. “Damage Labs has made such an accessible and welcoming program that respects our time and energy while also really getting into the important details. I’m really grateful to be in the cohort!” says Marcotte.
Donations are still being accepted at damagelabs.ca/support. Contributions will seed a future round of the fund.
“Killjoy Games was born with a vision of making games with diverse folk and for different audiences. But we also wanted to build a human-centred, anti-oppressive organization. Damage Labs has been critical in helping us thoughtfully develop business plans and practices that align with our values and not those of the mainstream industry. It’s really a precedent setting program!” – Emily Flynn-Jones, Killjoy Games
“We are a group of artists and educators creating a game that enhances social, cultural & communal quality of life, and that addresses community challenges. Damage Labs has been a refreshing experience, helping arm us with business and financial literacy to build a sustainable and ethical practice. We very much appreciate that the DMG team provides equal opportunities and resources to the participants regardless of technical and trade barriers.” – Studio Spacekatz
“I’m learning so much from Damage Labs - the resources and mentors are incredible. Previously I was running my studio without any idea of what I was doing, and for a small indie many aspects are very draining. Now there is much more clarity for me. Thanks Damage Labs!” – Susan Chang, Quill Studios
Damage Labs is part of the Canadian Women’s Foundation Investment Readiness Program, funded by the Government of Canada; and supported by Ontario Creates.
About Damage Labs
Damage Labs is a free 6-month intensive training program for founders from historically marginalized and underrepresented backgrounds ready to start a game studio. Topics include alternative financing and structures that centre cooperation, social finance investment; and business, legal, and financial planning basics.
DMG is a not-for-profit video game arts organization that supports people historically excluded from tech and game spaces – especially gender-marginalized and racialized people – to make, play and critique video games within a cultural context.
Founded in 2012, DMG teaches computing skills for artistic expression, offers production and exhibition facilities, and provides community support for the creation of new artworks. The DMG space in Toronto’s West Queen West neighborhood is a community hub engaging creators and the public with the expressive potential of this medium.