Video game companies in Québec will be impacted by a new controversial language law.
The aim of Bill 96 is to strengthen the French-speaking province’s language laws, ensuring French is the main language spoken in everything from business to healthcare.
However, it’s feared this will drive away non-French speakers from Québec’s considerable video game industry.
A number of major developers are situated in Québec, including Ubisoft (Immortals Fenyx Rising), Warner Bros. Games (Gotham Knights), Behaviour (Dead by Daylight), Gameloft (the Asphalt series), and Eidos Montreal (Guardians of the Galaxy).
Over 11,000 people are employed in the Québec video game industry, which generates almost $1.75bn revenue for the province each year, according to Québec’s Industry Ministry.
An anonymous source speaking to CBC said many games industry workers are now looking to leave Quebec.
“You already see it, with some people who are looking at Bill 96 and saying: ‘OK, it’s time for me to pack up and leave,'” he said.
As English is the default language for much of the gaming industry, he said having to learn French would drive potential workers away from Québec.
“I just don’t see Quebec companies being able to attract talent if that’s what they have to [contend with],” he said.
Christopher Chancey, the chairman of the board of the Guilde du jeu vidéo du Québec, responded that the organization supports French being the default language in Québec’s gaming industry.
“But we have a lot of people coming from everywhere around the world to make video games here in Québec,” he said. “Our fear is that this is sending out a message [that Québec is] not inclusive to other cultures.
“I think everyone understands the importance of the French language … I think it’s just a question of making sure that [newcomers] feel included as well.”
The newly formed Office for the Protection of the French language told CBC: “All sectors must contribute to the effort to ensure the sustainability of our official and common language.”
The French government recently banned the official use of anglicised gaming terms, something the Guilde du jeu vidéo du Québec assisted with.