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13th September 2010

Unity 3D Book for Beginners Penned by Toronto Developer Ryan Creighton

Untold EntertainmentIf you have been considering switching to Unity 3D for game development but are unsure of where or how to start, Ryan Henson Creighton, founder of Untold Entertainment, has written a book just for you. Available now for pre-order, Unity 3D Game Development by Example Beginner’s Guide is due out later this month.

Overview of Unity 3D Game Development by Example Beginner’s Guide:

* Build fun, simple games using the free Unity 3D game engine even if you’ve never coded before
* Learn how to “skin” projects to make totally different games from the same file – more games, less effort!
* Deploy your games to the Internet so that your friends and family can play them
* Packed with ideas, inspiration, and advice for your own game design and development
* Stay engaged with fresh, fun writing that keeps you awake as you learn

What you will learn from this book:

* Find out how people are using the amazing new Unity 3D game engine
* Develop and customize four fun game projects, including a frantic race through hospital hallways with a still-beating human heart and a catch game with a jilted lover that morphs into a space shooter!
* Create both 2D and 3D games using free software and supplied artwork
* Add motion, gravity, collisions, and animation to your game objects using Unity 3D’s built-in systems
* Learn how to use code to control your game objects
* Create particle systems like shattering glass, sparks, and explosions
* Add sound effects to make your games more exciting
* Create static and animated backdrops using multiple cameras
* Build crucial elements you’ll use again and again, like timers, status bars, title screens, win/lose conditions, and buttons to link game screens together
* Deploy your games to the Web to share them with friends, family, and adoring fans
* Discover the difference between game skins and mechanics, to earn more money from your games

PadWorx Digital Mpadworxedia, Inc., an independent developer of a new category of interactive eBooks for tablet PCs, today announced that it is set to debut a series of eBooks on September 15th that combine text, gameplay and interactive touch screen technology to create a new digital book experience completely controlled by the reader. The series of interactive eBooks will be released on Apple®iPadTM in Fall 2010. There will be two debut titles, the first of which is for teens and adults, with the second title being suitable for families.

“With user interaction on almost every page, our books put the power to bring stories to life into the hands of the reader,” said Jeffery Alan Schechter, director and producer of Padworx Digital Media, Inc. “This is not your typical passive eBook experience. Because we develop our eBooks on our own game engine, our readers get engaged not only with the text of the story, but also with the interactive graphics and the gameplay elements. The reader, the graphics and the text form a partnership to create the ultimate reading experience.”

Schechter, a two-time Emmy-nominated writer and producer who is well-known for creating Contour, Mariner Software’s award-winning story development software system, founded PadWorx Digital Media in 2010 with his partner, Tod Baudais, a game programmer and the head of software for a feature animation film studio. PadWorx Digital Media is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of tablet PC capabilities in order to create unique ways for readers of all ages to experience both literature and entertainment.

Desire2LearnDesire2Learn Incorporated (Desire2Learn), a leading provider of mission-critical enterprise eLearning solutions, is the recipient of a Best in Category Award for Learning Management based on the results of the 2010 IMS Learning and Education Technology Satisfaction and Trends (LearnSAT) survey.

For the 2010 competition, only 12 awards were made for “Best in Category.” Recipients were honored at the awards ceremony and presentation held earlier this year during the Learning Impact Conference in Long Beach, CA. Jeremy Auger, COO, Desire2Learn was on-hand to receive the award.

“Congratulations is extended to Desire2Learn on receiving this unique and meaningful award,” says Dr. Rob Abel, Chief Executive of IMS Global Learning Consortium. “It is the only award we are aware of where the end-user institutions and school districts can express their satisfaction with the vendors.”

The survey, conducted by the IMS Global Learning Consortium, in cooperation with Campus Technology magazine, is unique, for an open web-based survey, in its qualification process of the respondents and cross-check to eliminate any vendor responses or “ballot box stuffing.”

The LearnSAT report, and underlying research, is conducted to provide level of satisfaction information in the use of technology to support teaching and learning to a new and rapidly evolving marketplace. Through the LearnSAT report, those responsible for implementing and supporting solutions in this new marketplace have additional information to supplement that supplied by vendors as to the level of satisfaction expressed by current clients.

“We are honored to be the recipient of this prestigious award from IMS,” states John Baker, President & CEO, Desire2Learn. “The award provides external verification of our continuous commitment to our mission of focusing on our clients and providing them with outstanding client service and support as they continue to strive to ensure program and service excellence to their learning communities.”

A unique aspect of this research is that it also looks at trends in how these technologies are being used and supported, as well as the technologies themselves. It is based on over two years of research uncovering best practices for success in Internet-Supported learning. The IMS Global Learning Consortium LearnSAT is the learning community’s number one source for satisfaction and trends in the use of technology to support learning. Further information on the survey can be found online.

Desire2Learn was also the first LMS provider to have attained the IMS Basic Learning Tools Interoperability (IMS Basic LTI) standard. LTI is a standard developed by IMS Global Learning Consortium to allow Tool Consumers (Learning Management Systems primarily) to easily link to and pass user / organization / course information to Tool Providers (other online applications for eLearning such as wikis, simulations, protected content, assessment tools, etc.).

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13th September 2010

Happy Birthday Mario

Nintendo CanadaTwenty-five years ago today, Nintendo’s original Super Mario Bros.™ video game made its debut in Japan and changed the world of video games forever. Since then, Mario™ has become one of the most renowned and beloved video game characters around the globe.

Mario is all but synonymous with Nintendo. It’s difficult to think of one without thinking of the other. Super Mario Bros. contains a magical blend of characters, graphics, challenges, music and action that still captivates players today. The original game sold 40.24 million units worldwide, and remains one of the best-known, Super Mario Galaxy2best-loved video games in the world. It popularized the side-scrolling format and established elements of the Mushroom Kingdom that are still used in today’s Mario games. Super Mario Bros. frequently appears on lists of the best games of all time.

“Stimulated by advancements in technologies, we have always enjoyed developing the Super Mario Bros. series,” said Nintendo designer and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto. “The Super Mario Bros. series has always taken advantage of the latest technologies and is the fruit of the creativity of a number of my hard-working friends working as a team.”

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., fans can visit Mario’s birthday page to see a special video that shows game-play footage from Super Mario Bros. all the way through Super Mario Galaxy™ 2.

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13th September 2010

Bitstrips for Schools Helps Close the Literacy Gap between Boys and Girls

bitstrips for schoolsBitstrips Inc. released data today showing that its popular educational comic-making tool, Bitstrips for Schools, is helping close the gender literacy gap by motivating male students to write as much as their female counterparts.

An analysis of over 400,000 students who used Bitstrips for Schools during the 2009-10 school year revealed that boys wrote as many comics on a per-student basis as girls. The analysis compared usage across grades 1-12, and showed that the number of comics made by students of both sexes was virtually identical in each grade. In total, students combined to create over 2 million comics on Bitstrips for Schools in under 10 months, most of them in Ontario, Canada, where the service is available to all of the province’s 5,000 publicly funded schools through a license from the Ministry of Education.

Featuring online tools that let any student create and share comics without having to draw, and a growing library of activities covering English, Math, Science, History and Social Studies, Canadian Council on LearningBitstrips for Schools is striking a chord at a time when comics are becoming recognized as having an important role to play in the classroom. School librarians are adding graphic novels to their bookshelves in growing numbers, and in July, the Canadian Council on Learning published a report detailing the potential of comics in boys’ literacy development.

“More and more, researchers are pointing to comics as a way to engage boys in reading, but you don’t really hear about their potential to boost the other half of the literacy equation – writing,” said Bitstrips CEO, Jacob Blackstock. “The results from our first year in schools show that we’re starting to have a real impact in that respect.”

Bitstrips for Schools has experienced explosive growth since launching last September. In Ontario, over 25,000 teachers have created accounts across 85% of the province’s schools. Many more have subscribed across the rest of Canada, as well as in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S., where the site is a featured partner in the National Writing Project’s Spotlight on Literacy. By the end of June, students were making 15,000 new comics every day.

“The response from the start has been incredible,” said Blackstock. “We hear from teachers almost daily that Bitstrips for Schools is helping students become much more communicative by making the process of writing more visual, interactive and fun.”

“Bitstrips for Schools is a great motivational tool for reluctant writers,” said Lindsay Porter, a Grade 3/4 teacher at Tecumseh Public School in Mississauga, Ontario. “Students who would normally shut down at the thought of a traditional writing assignment end up asking to stay in at recess to work on their comics. Knowing that I have something to help differentiate learning for those students and sustain their interest in a classroom task makes my job a little easier.”

Discussing the impact of Bitstrips for Schools on her seventh grade Language Arts students, teacher Shannon Powell at Central Montcalm Middle School in Michigan said, “Some of my most highly reluctant writers were among the first to accomplish the assignments I gave, and proved that they can write after all. With this program students don’t have to be limited by their drawing talent.”

An end-of-year survey of teachers who use Bitstrips for Schools revealed that 98% find the website easy to use, 97% plan to use it again in the coming school year, and 98% would recommend Bitstrips for Schools to their fellow teachers.

The company recently renewed its license in Ontario for the 2010-11 school year, once again making Bitstrips for Schools available to the province’s 2 million students.

“It’s thrilling to have become a valued part of the literacy toolkit for so many teachers so quickly,” said Blackstock, adding, “We’re really excited to kick off another amazing school year and take things to another level.”

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