Renaissance Master: Aaron Flynn
Staying in the pocket. Staying in Edmonton.
Perhaps the greatest lesson from the creative domain over the past fifty years is the move to production. No longer do we speak of musicians, designers or creators as separate from industry. Artists have long known that they must live as entrepreneurs in order to make their way, but within domains like hip hop, content creation, and video games it is producers we look to as the primary engines of creative work.
One of the best examples of the creative producer is Edmonton's Aaron Flynn. Flynn left his position as General Manager at BioWare to open a new studio as part of England's Improbable. For those who pay attention to the game space, the first and only question we had was: will the two companies getting along? Those who love BioWare (and I count myself a lifelong member of this group) worried that internecine warfare might cause problems for companies and people they love. But, it was the wrong question to ask.
The game space is competitive, but operates at scale. Game makers want to compete, but they do not operate in a zero-sum model. Rather, leaders like Flynn model a new way of working in and with communities. Aaron Flynn has worked tirelessly to support and grow the making of games not only in the companies he runs, but across the sector. He regularly takes time to meet with new companies, professional associations and educators in order to share his knowledge and his passion.
Flynn is a giant in the world of games. He has worked on some of the most important games in the world, and has worked with some of our greatest artists. Any number of selections from his CV ensure his place in history, but my favourite contribution from his growing list of credits is his commitment to Edmonton.
Before he agreed to open a new game studio, the global games community already owed a great debt to Mr. Flynn. That he would leave his beloved BioWare in order to continue to grow the game sector, and the city of Edmonton is a testament both to his loyalty, and to his recognition that Edmonton, Alberta can stand with any location when it comes to the creation of games and game-based innovation.
Great leaders show their character when times get tough. During the early days of his work at Improbably, Aaron Flynn stepped forward to lead when changes in government impacted the financial structures related to games. Like a great quarterback, Flynn stays calm under pressure and acts with the success of his team in mind. When Aaron Flynn wins, the game sector wins. When Aaron Flynn wins, Edmonton wins.
Three cheers to Emily Rendell-Watson and Global Edmonton for drawing attention both to Mr. Flynn and to the extraordinary community of Edmonton game makers. Flynn is still a young man, so his story is only beginning, but the scale of his contributions demand our attention, and his commitment to Edmonton help us understand the importance of this magical city that has given much more to the world than it takes.