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the ladder

Cody Clinton poses for a portrait at this office in Charlottetown, P.E.I., Saturday. October 22, 2016Nathan Rochford/The Globe and Mail

Cody Clinton, 28, a founding director of the Startup Zone incubation space in Charlottetown, works as an investment officer attracting information and communications technology companies to Prince Edward Island.

I have a bachelor of science degree in physics with a minor in mathematics from the University of Prince Edward Island. I was attracted to physics more on the biology side, interested in going into health but changed course and landed in economic development.

Working with businesses, I'm usually in dress pants and a polo shirt – I've grown comfortable with that outside of my earlier days of jeans and a hoodie.

A lot of people don't know PEI has a video-game sector, so we're really an underdog. I'm lucky the government sees IT and the sector as a potential for growth from an economic and cultural community standpoint, because gamers add a new energy to PEI. People can be successful here and have a lifestyle that's not Silicon Valley – not a two- or three-hour commute. You're 10 or 15 minutes from home.

Certainly, the majority [working in gaming] are male. Initiatives like Ladies Learning Code are about bringing more equality into the fields and attracting women trained in coding and development. I think there's a huge demand. They're a major market for video games and IT products over all. Their sense of how things should be developed and created and marketed toward women is invaluable, because you have a gaming platform in your pocket through a smart device.

I'm a gamer, so I enjoy playing video games. There's certainly value in working with the companies and them working with me because I get the games, I get the business models. I play them so I see how they work. From my clients' perspectives, they like it because I'm actually up to speed on what's going on.

There are different levels of gamers. There's your hard-core gamer; they shift their lifestyle toward gaming – they game first then life later. Then mid-core gamers; they're a step down but play video games when they want to but still work, play after. Then there's the casual market, which is most players with a smart device – they're waiting at the airport or waiting for a bus and play to kill time, but it's not scheduled consistent game play.

It's interesting to see especially when I'm working with businesses, who they're targeting, what do they want their audience to be – is this something they want people to play four to six hours a day or four to six hours a week? It's important to know your audience.

There are competitions [where top gamers make money and pack stadiums] and platforms developed for watching games, others being developed for the mobile-gaming market rather than just consoles and computers, so it's an emerging field. My nine-year-old watches videos on Minecraft; people building stuff, new maps and new adventures – he watches more people play video games than he plays.

If I feel the content's not appropriate for his age, I'd steer him away, but typically I give him the flexibility. I played video games at his age so I don't have a restriction against him playing, I think it's great; it's essentially like electronic Lego. There's that learning component of trying to build and make it work; you could even argue an artistic component. People are building these massive creations and puzzles you've got to try and solve – it's really quite in-depth. We all have different passions. My fiancée played the Sims series of games – that was something she was really into. I'm more into the sci-fi battle first-person shooter.

Most people, when I tell them I have a young one at home, ask if I'm getting enough sleep. My game sessions are typically at night, usually late evening 10 to 12. I have friends that have since moved from PEI – some in Alberta, B.C. and another is in New Jersey, so we try to find a common time when we can all play together and that gives us a chance to reconnect. These days, probably two to three hours, maybe four at the high end when it [used to be] probably 8 to 10 per week.

As told to Cynthia Martin. This interview has been edited and condensed.

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