Every1Games provides specialized programs supporting neuro-divergent youth (autism, ADHD, bipolar etc.) succeed in life after high school. We teach video game development to help youth transition and succeed in post-secondary media programs. Participants build valuable life skills gaining experience and confidence through individual and team-based game development, social learning activities and networking guidance in a low-anxiety and collaborative learning environment. We chatted with Sarah Drew Saucier, CEO of Every1Games, about the impact she’s trying to make with the program – here’s what she had to say:
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR COMPANY?
As a student, I led a community social program for teens on the autism spectrum. I was also working with a video game studio and studying interactive media. Every day someone from the social program asked me how they can get into the video game industry; everyone wanted to work in gaming.
Every1Games began as a one-evening workshop to introduce my autistic peers to software tools they could use to design and develop games. When the question changed from how do I work in games to when is the next workshop, Every1Games was born.
WHAT IS THE BEST PART OF WHAT YOU DO ON A DAY-TO- DAY BASIS?
Play testing. We work with video game studios to bring our clients opportunities to play test products and learn from industry experts. Though we don’t play test everyday, it is most certainly one of the best parts of what we do.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART?
We keep high standards of best practice to develop the Every1Games brand. We operate in multiple regions (currently Toronto and Niagara), so it’s important that we offer a consistent quality experience. Our neurodiverse staff is made up of top students and industry professionals who are often balancing creative projects. It takes resilience, the ability to stay innovative and change with the needs of the people we work with, both clients and staff. That’s why we’ve dedicated resources to the development of processes and tools that keep our regional teams connected, informed and ready to provide support to our clients and each other.
HOW DO YOU MEASURE SUCCESS?
As a social enterprise, our success is measured in terms of revenue and social impact. It’s easy for us to feel successful when our clients meet personal and professional goals, like getting into college, but this year is all about creating milestones that better reflect the businesses profitability. A successful fiscal year is a profitable one.
WHAT IS THE BEST RECOGNITION YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
Once a year we bring together autistic youth and adults to identify societal barriers and come to a plan of action to improve infrastructure and employment opportunities. Autism Canada approached us after key members of their ASD Advisory Committee who had attended our event in previous years recognized Every1Games for doing it right! Now we’ve made an impact that is going to make its way across the nation thanks to Autism Canada and the ASD Advisory Committee who will be co-hosting The Au-Some Conference at McMaster Innovation Park on Saturday, August 20th 2016.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE NEXT YEAR AND BEYOND?
Next year we plan to make Every1Games programs available in different regions across Ontario. We are a key instrument in the accessibility of education and careers in digital media and plan to offer programs in strategic locations.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS OR STUDENTS STUDYING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN YOUR FIELD?
No matter your field, take care of yourself, mentally and physically. Your work and goals will suffer when you don’t. Do what you need to do to feel good. Eat well, maybe join a softball team or choir, whatever it is that gives you a mental break from the grind.
WHAT DIFFERENTIATES YOU FROM YOUR COMPETITION?
Our programs are specialized. Government funded NFP’s offer a broad range of developmental services designed to assist children , youth, and families. But these organizations lack the knowledge of creative production necessary to offer the quality of programs demanded by adults interested in higher education or creative careers. Organizations that offer skills development programs, like Autism Ontario, work with Every1Games as industry allies, subsidizing programs to help clients access our services while bringing value to their community members. When we work as allies with other service providers and educators, it helps us meet the goals of our mission to build a network of support for our clients.
WHY IS HAMILTON THE HOME FOR YOUR COMPANY?
Innovation Factory and The Forge are helping us take our next steps as we grow the business. We are excited to grow alongside the ambitious city.
HOW CAN WE CONNECT WITH YOU?
Visit us online at every1games.ca! You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter. For information about how to participate in one of our summer programs you can email Cameron Cubitt, our amazing Program Director! [email protected].