As many of you have probably heard by now, Clint Hocking has resigned from his position at Ubisoft Montreal. He made the official announcement yesterday on his personal blog , and while he does not state where he is going on his new journey, I will always remember the incredible Rant Keynote he delivered at the 2009 Game Design Expo here in Vancouver. It was one of the best keynotes I’ve ever attended – entertaining, educational and insightful. I wish Clint all the very best as he begins the next stage in his life, and I hope that we in the Canadian game development industry are far from done hearing from Clint and playing games he’s helped put on our game shelves.
Lotusland Studios  has released an update to Truck Modz  on Apple iPhone™ and Apple iPod touch®. In case you didn’t know, Truck Modz is an interactive 3D truck-building game for kids of all ages. The premise is simple: build, paint and hit the road with your very own truck! This game goes beyond any other mix-and-match title by allowing you to build your ideal vehicle from a huge collection of fronts, backs, and wheels, and then being able to interact with your creation: from snow plows to squeaky toys, everything is animated. Everything is triggered by a touch or a swipe, simple enough for everyone to get addicted! 
In this updated version, audiences of all ages will enjoy even more mix-and-match fun with the introduction of a new cab to the collection, as well as an animated Easter-themed surprise.
Truck Modz  is essentially an entire pocketful of toy trucks: creative, non-aggressive play is the emphasis of the game, and the user interface is wordless and simple enough for a child of 18 months to understand, while adults will enjoy the CB banter, cool sirens and endless combination of trucks.
Truck Modz Update Highlights:
* Totally intuitive, easy enough for a toddler to enjoy
* Mix and match parts at any time, the combos are endless!
* Cruise down the highway through an endless ever-changing landscape
* Listen to hilarious trucker banter on the CB radio!
* Shake device to check out your ride from 4 different camera angles
* Rocking soundtrack by Billy Joe Huel
Now in its fourth successful year, the Toronto Pinball and Gameroom Show  remains the only show of its kind in Canada. Aimed at both enthusiasts and the general public, the show features pinball machines, classic arcade video games, console game systems, home theatre, jukeboxes, slot machines, soda machines, billiard tables, shuffleboards, Pachinko games, vintage 1950’s diner memorabilia and other coin operated and home Gameroom equipment and antiques.
Machines, games and accessories will be available for sale to collectors, hobbyists, restorers and gamers looking for that certain cool piece of gear for their gameroom. The show also offers free play on over 100 pinball, classic arcade and other games. Even if buying a game is not in the cards, guests can still get the best deal in town playing all day or all weekend for one low entry fee.
Although pinball machines aren’t easy to find these days, they continue to hold their iconic status in pop culture and have maintained popularity with game fans both young and old. “There’s no way to truly simulate the analog experience of flipping a ball on a computer or video game” says Nick Angel, organizer of the event. “Pinball has always been the anchor attraction of the show and this year’s venue will be jam packed with more games from the past and present than all of our previous shows combined”.
An exciting addition to this year’s lineup is the brand new IRON MAN™ pinball machine from Stern Pinball based on the just-released Hollywood blockbuster movie, on display and available for play at the show.
The show will also feature the Toronto Pinball Championship tournament with over $2000 in prizes, an arcade game auction on Sunday that will offer the best bargains of the weekend, and door prizes and raffles for gameroom gear. In addition, the show will feature educational seminars with topics on repairing your first pinball machine, pinball & arcade game history, and restoration techniques.
Admission at the door is $15.00 for adults and $5.00 for children under 12 per day. Under 3 is free. Special weekend pass $20. Show hours are Saturday 10am to 10pm, Sunday 10am – 6pm. Parking at the International Centre is free.
Despite almost two years of intense economic downturn, findings from a cross-country survey reveal a strong entrepreneurial spirit among Canadians ready to venture out on their own. The survey, conducted for Intuit Inc. , maker of QuickBooks , showed one-in-three Canadians is interested in starting their own business in the next two years – and 35 per cent of this group said they are likely to follow through on their plans. Further, almost one-quarter (22 per cent) of those planning to start a small business said the recession had not deflated their plans and may have actually emboldened them to forge ahead.
What’s driving these Canadians? Mainly, it comes down to control and independence. When asked about the greatest drivers, Canadians who were interested in “going it alone” said having control over their own destiny (52 per cent) is the top motivator. These Canadians are also motivated by not having to work for someone else (41 per cent), and 37 per cent believe when it comes to cash, starting a small business is the key to making more of it.
“Much of Canada’s economic might comes from its small business backbone and, despite a market characterized by uncertainty, it’s encouraging to see such gritty, entrepreneurial determination among the Canadian population,” said Gene Lewis, country manager for Intuit Canada. “The road to economic recovery is expected to be long and hard, and this study shows that Canadian tenacity will be a key motivating factor in the turnaround.”
Being the boss requires well-rounded business know-how, and the Intuit study showed Canadians believe they have what it takes. Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of those likely to start a business believe it’s easy to come up with a successful business idea and more than half (55 per cent) are confident they can market it.
Respondents were also confident in their ability to take on almost all aspects of day-to-day activities themselves, including:
– Hiring the right staff – 94 per cent
– Client service – 85 per cent
– Finding investors – 68 per cent
– Promoting the business – 56 per cent
Entrepreneurial confidence apparently ends when it comes to managing business finances. Seven-in-ten Canadians who are likely to start a small business believe sorting through taxes and financing requirements would be a difficult part of running a business. And 58 per cent would rather have someone else handle important accounting tasks, such as payroll, invoicing, and taxes.
“Canadians clearly believe they have the chops to build a successful business and the hesitation around accounting is nothing new,” said Lewis. “Whether you’re an entrepreneurial novice or consider yourself a seasoned small business pro, your finances are the lifeblood of your business. Understanding how everything works is crucial. Having the right financial tools can dramatically simplify this important piece of the puzzle and put the control back in the hands of the small business owner.”
While entrepreneurism among Canadians is healthy, the Intuit study simultaneously revealed why some won’t take the plunge into small business. Reasons for holding back included:
– Lack of money – 46 per cent
– Too difficult to obtain a loan – 68 per cent
– Lack of support network – 58 per cent
“Having a network of trusted advisors is critical to small business success,” said Lewis. “This is the main motivation for Intuit’s creation of online communities where entrepreneurs interact with and get valuable support from others.”
Canadians have clearly expressed disdain for bookkeeping and taxes and the introduction of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on July 1, 2010 isn’t likely to make things any easier in Ontario and British Columbia.
The majority of Ontario and BC residents believe the HST will hinder small business, as more than three-quarters (81 per cent) of respondents said the new tax will make consumers more price conscious, and three-in-four (75 per cent) believe that will lead to spending cutbacks. An additional 68 per cent say more information is needed to assess its full impact, which suggests that, as the deadline looms, many Canadians are in the dark on this significant change to how businesses operate.
“Residents of Ontario and British Columbia have stated that HST is a problem for them, and for anyone considering a new venture, now is the time to act,” added Lewis. “Financial management shouldn’t scare away budding entrepreneurs,” said Lewis. “Software such as QuickBooks can help them manage money. And for those who are still concerned, we recommend they talk to an accountant. Simply put, running a small business is often the realization of a dream and taxes should never slow anyone down.”
The Canadian eLearning Enterprise Alliance  (CeLEA) completed their Annual General Meeting on March 26th, 2010 with a renewed focus and a new leadership face to drive initiatives for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
After six years of leading CeLEA to new organizational benchmarks, Barry Nicolle decided to step down as chairman to focus his energy on specific industry initiatives. He will continue to serve on the board as the Secretary-Treasurer for the coming year. The board and voting members enthusiastically supported the nomination of industry stalwart Claude Martel as the organization’s new Chairman.
As Barry Nicolle reaffirmed “Claude is one of the founders of CeLEA and has always been a strong advocate for the Canadian eLearning industry. I am extremely pleased that he will be leading CeLEA in the coming year and I look forward to working with all of the board members to make 2010 a landmark year for CeLEA”. Claude Martel has held several senior management positions in learning and brings over 25 years of industry experience in the domains of education, training, and eLearning. Moreover, he has been an active member of CeLEA for all eight years of the organization’s existence.
Claude Martel graciously accepted the support of the board and the membership to take over the CeLEA reins during such an exciting time in the industry. “It is with pleasure that I accept to become the Chairman of CeLEA. It is a wonderful time to make the promotion of online technologies in education and training as we are at a crossroad in its development and implementation. CeLEA plays a key role to support the industry and the community of course designers, so they can have a better understanding of the benefits and application of these educational technologies during this time of rapid commercial innovation.”
In addition to the new chairman elect, Robert Martellaci was elected as the new Vice-Chairman. He and the other board members are in the process of completing the planning phase of a series of exciting new initiatives that will be launched in mid-May 2010. More information on these initiatives can be found on the CeLEA website in the upcoming weeks.