About Us

hand-eye-design-web
The Hand Eye Society is a Toronto not-for-profit dedicated to supporting and showcasing videogames made primarily as a form of creative expression.
We  aim to provide exhibition opportunities, education, creative support, mentorship, knowledge sharing and inspiration to artists, enthusiasts, and the game-curious in Toronto.
Founded in 2009, it is one of the first videogame arts organizations of its kind in the world.

Feel free to contact us.

Our History

“The Hand Eye Society both initiated and have consistently innovated in making videogames an integral and respectable part of our broader cultural fabric. Peerless community organizers, they set the stage for what I believe is one of the most important new movements in global games culture: showcasing achievements on a hyper-local level, making games part of civic pride, and helping independent and personally-driven development become a sustainable and flourishing business. All of us, everywhere else in the world, are still simply following the trails they’ve blazed.”
—Brandon Boyer, Independent Games Festival Chairman

The Hand Eye Society was founded January 2009 by Raigan Burns and Mare Sheppard (Metanet), Jon Mak (Queasy), Jim McGinley (Big Pants), Jim Munroe (No Media Kings), & Miguel Sternberg (Spooky Squid Games). We were motivated to create a videogame organization with an arts and culture focus, rather than a commercial or industry one. HES launched a website promoting the first of our regular bi-monthly Socials, which provided the first public glimpses of Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (Capybara Games, Jim Guthrie & Superbrothers) and Nidhogg (Messhof). The HES website quickly became a hub for videogame culture events and information, and HES an umbrella organization supporting and promoting local game projects. As the organization attracted volunteers, HES took on more ambitious projects. By the end of our first year we launched the Torontron as a way to showcase new independent games by people in our region in a retrofitted, 1980s-era arcade cabinet. Its popularity led us to expand the idea into a six-machine arcade hosted in the TIFF Lightbox lobby for the Arcadian Renaissance exhibit at Nuit Blanche 2010.

Also in 2010, we were invited to speak at the Indie Summit of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, the world’s most prestigious game conference. The international community was very interested in our artist-run model for a videogame organization (most are business-focused) and we helped inspire similar collectives in Chicago, Ottawa, Montreal and Amsterdam. Our Torontron project has similarly spawned indie arcade cabinets across the world in over a dozen cities (see this map infographic).

Building on our existing relationship with Toronto International Film Festival, in 2011 HES entered into a partnership with them for TIFF.Nexus, a year long OMDC-funded project that had the HES leading four different creative initiatives: The Difference Engine Initiative (12 female artists mentored through the process of creating their 1st indie game), The Peripherals Initiative (connecting hardware hackers with gamemakers, with results showcasing at Digifest), Comics vs Games (collaborations between cartoonists and gamemakers presented at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival), and The Youth New Media Initiative (non-screen game design for kids, presented at Sprockets).

In 2012 we were invited to showcase the Torontrons at a Toronto Symphony Orchestra event at Roy Thompson Hall, and curated music games at Toronto Long Winter, an art-music series that had over a thousand attendees. We also continued the Comics vs Games initiative with another TCAF partnership.

2013 saw the inaugural WordPlay Festival partnership with the Toronto Public Library as well as a successful first run of a game literacy program called Game Curious. This program, intended for people who feel marginalized and not part of the existing games community, will be continued through til 2016 thanks to Trillium funding.

For our fifth birthday party in 2014 we partnered with Wild Rumpus and the Art Gallery of Ontario to do an unprecedented game exhibition that attracted more than 600 people.



Our Team

Sagan

Sagan Yee

Executive Director
Ken

Ken Cho

Technology Director, Game Curious Program Coordinator
AlDonato

Al Donato

Community Manager, Game Curious Coordinator
DaveFono

David Fono

To The Streets Coordinator
KaiWinter

Kai Winter

Volunteer Coordinator
Kadeem

Kadeem Dunn

Student Rep
Krystle2

Krystle Mackenzie

Game Curious Coordinator
JimMunroe

Jim Munroe

Funding and Partnerships

Our Board

ShaunHatton

Shaun Hatton

ChrisDeCastro

Chris De Castro

StephFisher

Stephanie Fisher

President
Chris Gehman

Chris Gehman

Treasurer
EmmaWestecott

Emma Westecott

AXBEY_HAT

Adam Axbey

Secretary

FORMER BOARD MEMBERS: Jim McGinley, Craig D. Adams, Jon Mak, Raigan Burns, Mark Rabo, Mare Sheppard, Jim Munroe, Alex Hayter, Sagan Yee, Emma Scratch, Miguel Sternberg, Alex Jansen