2nd December 2010

New Releases Abound This Holiday Season

xona gamesXona Games, a talented and award-winning team creating some of the most critically-acclaimed indie arcade games to date, has announced its two newest offerings to the gaming world at large: Decimation X3 and Score Rush. Both titles will be launching on the Microsoft Xbox LIVE Indie Games platform with Decimation X3 going live on Tuesday, December 7 and Score Rush on Thursday, December 9, and both will be available for purchase for 80 Microsoft Points ($1 USD).Decimation X3

Decimation X3 has been selected as part of the Indie Games Winter Uprising, a week-long celebration of the best that Xbox LIVE Indie Games have to offer. Orchestrated by a group of fellow developers longing to promote the higher-quality games that can be found on the platform, the Indie Winter Games Uprising takes place the first week of December and features 12 top-tier games that they hope will elevate the impression of the Indie Games channel.

Decimation X3 is the thrilling sequel to one of the most popular 2D-retro shooters on Xbox LIVE Indie Games, Decimation X, which is one of the top-rated Indie Games in Japan (currently #2 out of approximately 1,500). Get ready for intense, never-ending waves of enemies and a continual rain of power-ups to significantly improve your offensive and defensive capabilities. Featuring decidedly retro pixel art graphics, an overload of explosion particle effects, 60 frames per second and a hypnotic trance beat soundtrack from Imphenzia, Decimation X3 is everything an arcade junkie could wish for and will put your reflexes to the ultimate test.

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The spiritual prequel to Duality ZF and built upon the same engine that was a semi-finalist for technical excellence in the 3rd Independent Game Developer’s Competition, Score Rush is an intense 2D, four-player, dual-stick, bullet-hell, score-running shooter. It features unlockable difficulty modes, several mid-bosses and bosses, and tons of smaller enemies. It is visually intense with a hard rocking soundtrack created by Dragon Music Productions. Collect both types of power-ups – those that upgrade the main weapon and those that add deadly appendages to your ship – to rack up insane scores. The bigger the enemies are and the faster you kill them, the more points you get.

Big Bad BrushJust in time for the holiday season, Toronto developer Big Bad Brush Inc. has announced the launch of their much anticipated second game, Kung Fu Santa, which is available now for the iPhone, iPod and iPad.

Kung Fu Santa is a unique concept with a fun factor of 100! This arcade style game features game center and retina display capabilities. Playing as the kung fu master himself, the user will have to jump between moving candy cane poles and save all the presents, while avoiding dangers such as poison goo, bombs, and evil elves!

The evil elves have stolen all of Kung Fu Santa’s presents and plans to sell them all for money. Greedy little things aren’t they? But alas, Kung Fu Santa is here with his superior Kung Kung Fu SantaFu moves!

Game Features:

* Game Center: Master the boards
* Retina Display: High Resolution Sharpness so you can see Santa’s skills
* In-Game highscores
* Collect presents and gold
* Beautiful and colorful illustrations
* Tap on candy cane poles or swipe left and right to move
* Collect presents and fill up Christmas bag!
* Avoid dangers and stop Evil Elves!

EA MobileEA Mobile™, Harmonix Music Systems Inc. and MTV Games have announced that Rock Band™ Reloaded is now available on the App Store. The iPad™-exclusive HD version and the version for iPhone® and iPod touch® offers players an initial powerhouse set list of songs from artists including Nirvana, Billy Idol, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails and Vampire Weekend. More than 20 songs will be available today with new tracks launching throughout the holidays. Plus, for the first time, Rock Band Reloaded players now have a “5th Way to Play” by singing directly into their iPhone, iPod touch and iPad utilizing new vocal recognition features.

Rock Band Reloaded is the experience fans have been waiting for, innovating on the popular franchise and bringing the entire band onto the iPad and iPhone for the first time,” said Travis Boatman, Vice President of Worldwide Studios for EA Mobile. “These games bring a deep Rock Band experience to mobile players in very cool and creative new ways. Innovative vocal recognition features, social integration connecting players to their friends and challenging gameplay modes will drive forward the mobile music genre and provide the best music experience to players.”

New vocal recognition features introduce players to a unique way to play by singing directly into their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad to earn points. Players can showcase their inner rock star by picking from a setlist of songs that include “Hella Good” by No Doubt, “Kryptonite” by 3 Doors Down, “Your Decision” by Alice in Chains, “White Wedding” by Billy Idol, “In Bloom” by Nirvana, “A-Punk” by Rock Band ReloadedVampire Weekend and many more. In addition to the songs included with the initial purchase, free (internet connection required. Data rates may apply) tracks are available in the Music Store along with Premium Packs by The All American Rejects, Third Eye Blind, Blink-182 and other top-selling artists available through In App Purchase.

For the first time on iPad, Rock Band Reloaded packs delivers device-exclusive features including a Multiplayer mode where players can challenge friends live in a head-to-head split-screen environment. Flexible controls provide for ultimate customization of all play styles. The iPad game’s new “Big Drums” layout increases the interactivity of this fan-favorite instrument. Songs are now more accessible to players with custom playlists in Quick Play and quick replay using an “Encore” feature.

Other game features include a new Expert mode for experienced players along with a World Tour mode that enables players to rock six cities and 36 events earning up to 50 awards and achievements all while living the Rock N’ Roll dream. By logging into Facebook, players have access to the News Center where they can find out when new songs launch, follow friends’ exploits and directly challenge their friends’ accomplishments with a simple touch of the screen. And for those just looking to jam, get “the band” together via local WiFi and Bluetooth and play live on guitar, bass, drums, or vocals with up to three bandmates using their own iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. (Vocals/voice feature not available on the 1st generation iPod touch. Microphone required to play vocals/voice on the 2nd and 3rd generation iPod touch. Headset required to play vocals/voice on 1st generation iPhone)

padworxPadWorx Digital Media, Inc. is pleased to announce that you can now come face to face with a revolutionary new vision of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Future in the most immersive edition ever of Charles Dickens’ timeless classic A Christmas Carol, available now in the iPad App Store for $4.99 USD – a portion of which will be donated to charity.
iPad Christmas Carol
“We’ve taken Charles Dickens’ most famous story and infused it with unique steampunk illustrations and animations,” said Jeffery Alan Schechter, CEO of PadWorx Digital Media, Inc. “As a visual style, steampunk conjures up images more usually associated with H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. By bringing this incredible style to ‘A Christmas Carol for iPad’ we’re giving readers and families a brand new way to experience the joy and wonder of this inspiring classic.”

Through 130 pages of lovingly abridged text, readers will help power the story forward. Whether turning the key in Scrooge’s door and watching as the door knocker changes into the deceased Jacob Marley, powering up and manipulating an assortment of wonderful steam powered devices, or just marveling at each chapter’s ‘mechanical‘ page-turning contraptions, A Christmas Carol for iPad’s animations, illustrations, original score, and sound effects will draw you into the story’s unforgettable lessons of darkness, despair, joy and life. As with PadWorx’s debut title Dracula: The Official Stoker Family Edition, A Christmas Carol for iPad includes hidden Easter eggs of bonus content: the complete 1910 silent movie version of A Christmas Carol by Thomas Edison Studios as well as the full 1938 Orson Welles radio adaptation of the holiday tale – and is fully endorsed by the Dickens family.

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2nd December 2010

5th Anniversary For CLICK Benefits Hospitals For Kids

Microsoft CanadaMicrosoft Canada, Children’s Miracle Network and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Child Life Interactive Computers for Kids (CLICK) program today. At an event held at CHEO and attended by Mrs. Laureen Harper, Microsoft announced an expansion to the program with the donation of 200 units of Kinect™ sensors for Xbox 360® to the 14 Children’s Miracle Network member hospitals across Canada.

“Thanks to CLICK, we’ve seen children light up during what could have been very dark times. Microsoft Canada’s donations have enabled our patients to have a greater sense of normalcy by being more connected to their friends and family.” said Maureen Jones, Child Life Specialist, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario. “We know that the power of play has an incredible impact on children and parents, through both treatment and recovery. In the past five years, CLICK has delivered remarkable results, and we look forward to exciting new opportunities for play with Kinect.”

Through the CLICK program, patients can access Tablet PCs, software, digital cameras, printers, webcams, Xbox 360 consoles and now Kinect for Xbox 360. CLICK is also implemented at an additional 14 Children’s Miracle Network member hospitals across Canada, including Quebec City’s Centre mère-enfant at CHUQ and Halifax’s IWK Health Centre.

“Harnessing the power of technology, CLICK enables children to stay connected, brings fun and joy into the hospital, and inspires them to stretch their imaginations and think creatively,” said Gavin Thompson, Director, Corporate Citizenship, Microsoft Canada. “By adding Kinect to CLICK, we hope to help improve hospital stays for children and families by giving them the opportunity to play with the same new technology their friends may be enjoying.”

“Five years ago, we asked Microsoft to help us bring interactive technology into CHEO. Rather than just writing a cheque, Microsoft Canada worked closely with Children’s Miracle Network and CHEO to develop a meaningful program that meets the specific needs of children in hospital,”said John Hartman, Chief International Officer, Children’s Miracle Network. “What sets Microsoft Canada apart is their approach to understanding the challenges and goals of our organizations; they are committed to making social investments that enable us to make a difference in the lives of the children we serve.”

CLICK is part of Microsoft Canada’s corporate Citizenship program which is committed to making technology more relevant, affordable and accessible for people everywhere – including Canadian youth. Through social investments, the Microsoft Canada team aspires to ignite the power of creativity in organizations, businesses and youth across the country.

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2nd December 2010

Nominations Open For Canadian Video Game Awards 2011

Canadian Video Game AwardsThe Canadian video game industry will once again gather on the country’s west coast in May 2011 to celebrate its world-class developers at the Second Annual Canadian Video Game Awards ceremony, taking place at the Centre For The Performing Arts in Vancouver on May 18th.

The Canadian Video Game Awards will be held the night before the Canadian Game Conference (formerly GDC-Canada) in Vancouver, with Video Games Live returning to provide entertainment throughout the show. With Canada being the third largest developer of video games in the world, the awards show will celebrate our nation’s spot on the world stage as a leader in interactive entertainment. The Canadian Video Game Awards Victor Lucaswill be broadcast across the country on G4 Canada through the Rogers Network, and tickets for the event will be available to the public in the coming weeks.

“Last year’s show was a screaming success and got great reviews from both fans and the industry. Thousands of brilliant, passionate Canadians, from coast to coast, work in this industry and we can’t wait to once again honour their work and to continue to foster inspiration for tomorrow’s great Canadian video game makers,” said Victor Lucas, co-host and executive producer of The Electric Playground and Reviews on the Run. “The event was a long-overdue recognition of how much incredible interactive entertainment is made every year in this country and 2010 was a true blockbuster for Canadian-made games. We’re looking forward to another great show in a spectacular venue.”

Nominations are now open for the Awards and are welcome from all parts of Canada’s game industry, which has seen multi-million sellers this year, such as Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Mass Effect 2, Splinter Cell: Conviction and FIFA Soccer 11, to name but a few. The Call for Nominations will close on February 28, 2011.

The 2011 award categories, as selected by a committee of industry leaders from across Canada are as follows:CVA 2010 Assassin's Creed Trophies

· Game of the Year
· Best Console Game
· Best Game on the Go
· Best Downloadable Game
· Best Social/Casual Game
· Best Game Design
· Best Technology
· Best Audio
· Best Visual Arts
· Best Writing
· Best Student Game
· Innovation Award

Finalists in all categories will be announced April 15, 2011, when public voting for Game of the Year will open.

Sponsors for the awards show have begun to come on board, with notable participation from Radical Entertainment, Heenan Blaikie, Great Northern Way Campus, Catchy Consulting Inc., Spectrum HR Law LLP and G4 (formerly G4TechTV). Download this PDF information package for more information about becoming a show sponsor.

The Canadian Video Game Awards are produced by Reboot Communications in association with Greedy Productions and DigiBC. The producers are joined by a national industry committee of developers and leaders of the Canadian digital entertainment industry.

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2nd December 2010

Contests Awards and Conferences

Garage IncTransgaming Studios has launched a contest for its upcoming title Garage Inc., with a copy of the game and wall poster as prizes. There are three ways to enter: create a piece of fan art, answer a trivia question about the Angelo, the game’s main character, or get your friends on FaceBook to like the game’s page and post a message that they are helping you to win. The trivia question has already been won, but you can still enter the fan art and “Like” segments of the contest. Fan art submissions will be accepted until noon ET on Monday. Please see the Garage Inc. page on Facebook for complete details.

Canadian Games ConferenceThe Canadian Games Conference has put out a call for submissions for its 2011 conference, taking place in Vancouver next May 19 & 20th. Submissions will be accepted until midnight on January 25, 2011, with invited speakers being notified by March 10, 2011. Session formats this year will include 25 and 60 minute lectures, panels and roundtables. The Advisory Board will be selecting submissions based on depth of content, relevance and interest, speaker credentials, and takeaway value. The intellectual property rights of those submitting papers for review will be respected throughout the process.

2011 Conference Topics:

    • New Business Models
    • Rapid Game Development
    • Box vs. Bits – Alternative Distribution Models
    • Game Design Stories
    • Social Games
    • Games on the Go
    • Content Creation
    • Programming
    • Student Stories

The Canadian Games Conference has also released information for its 2011 Sponsorship Levels (PDF), with packages ranging in price from $1 000.00 for a quarter page ad in the conference programme or conference bag insert up to $30 000.00 for Title Sponsor (one only). There are many options available for sponsorship, including sessions, coffee breaks, receptions, lanyards, pens and more. Exhibition booths start at $3 500.00 for a 10′ x 10′ booth (includes 5 conference passes), and B2B meeting rooms start at $7 000.00. Each category of sponsorship includes many benefits, the least of which is of course, supporting the Canadian Games Conference and helping the event to become an annual success.

Canadian New Media AwardsBy now most of you know who the big winners were at last night’s Canadian New Media Awards, but I am going to list them here anyway, and add my congratulations to the mix.

Best Branded Entertainment: The Weak Shop DDB Canada/Tribal Vancouver
Best Cross-Platform Project: The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games – Canada’s Olympic Broadcast Media Consortium – CTV Inc.
Best in Canadian Culture Interactive: Redress Remix – Stitch Media
Best Kids Interactive: The M.I. High Game: The Grand Mistress Mystery – Xenophile Media
Best Mobile Application: 2010 Guide – Official Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Mobile Spectator Guide – Xomo Digital Inc.
Best Online Advertising: Tourism Montreal – Montreal buzz – Sid Lee
Best Online Portal: Urbania.ca – TOXA
Best Online Programme, Series or Film: GDP – Measuring the human side of the Canadian economic crisis – National Film Board of Canada
Best Use of Social Media: Doritos Viralocity – Proximity Canada
Best Web-Based Game: One Ocean Interactive – Tactica Interactive, Merit Motion Pictures,and Complex Games
Community Campaign of the Year: The NFB Test Tube with David Suzuki – National Film Board of Canada
Digital Media Technology of the Year: HootSuite – HootSuite Media, Inc
Developer of the Year: Kris McLaughlin
Digital Media Woman of the Year: Nadia G (aka Nadia Giosia)
Executive of the Year: Alon Marcovici
Interactive Designer of the Year: Myron Campbell
Producer of the Year: Philippe Lamarre
Special Achievement Award: Adam Froman
Online Artist of the Year: Down With Webster
Promising New Company of the Year: Polar Mobile
Company of the Year: Syncapse Corp.

BC BusinessIn other awards, BC Business has named their picks for the Top 100 BC Companies of 2010, with Strangeloop Networks (Digital Tech & Tech Services and Small Business categories) and 6S Marketing (Professional Services & Communications category) being named in the Top 10 overall. Other Digital Tech & Tech Services winners were: Contigo Systems Inc., Work at Play Media Labs Ltd., Mobidia Technology Inc. and Incognito Software Inc.

mingleverseVancouver-based Mingleverse, an award winning next generation 3D telecommunications technology and service for consumers on broadband mobile networks announced today that it has raised $1.4 million in seed financing from Yaletown Venture Partners, angel investors and company co-founder/CEO Ron Stevens.

“We are extremely pleased to have Yaletown Venture Partners join us as the first institutional investor in Mingleverse,” said Stevens. “It’s difficult for Canadian startups to access early-stage financing these days, but at Mingleverse we’ve been very fortunate to draw the attention of this top-tier Canadian VC and to tap into their experience and networks.”

The proceeds of this financing will allow Mingleverse to expand the marketing programs for its mobile offering and move forward with integration into social networking platforms to help meet the needs of cellular carriers.

“Our investment recognizes Mingleverse’s potential to move the “state of the art” for internet and mobile communications beyond mere person-to-person video calling,” said Mike Satterfield, Partner with Yaletown. “The technology is compelling, and the range of applications for Mingleverse seems limited only by the imagination of its growing community of enthusiastic users.”

The Mingleverse live social communication service, now with users in 196 countries, enhances the way people use social networking. Mingling allows natural conversation in 3D high def voice while sharing media (pictures, TV or YouTube) with anyone in your network. The virtual room can be displayed in either 2D or 3D, decorated to suit the individual, admission-based, or ad-enabled to derive revenue. Users can mingle around the room, and watch the same content on one big screen like in their living room, office, or sports bar.

Mingleverse is working with cellular carriers and handset makers to deliver an approved Live Social Network service they can customize and offer to their subscribers. Carriers will offer new service models around media sharing, advertising, and multi-person voice during a mingle call. New revenue can also be derived from virtual goods, room decoration, and live Mingle event ticketing. Currently, the Mingleverse application is quick to install in your browser and allows 2 to 50 participants to be on a live 3D voice call while viewing the same content, which is a big improvement over the normal limitation of just a one-to-one video call.

Amazon Breakthrough Novel AwardAmazon.com, along with Penguin Group (USA) and CreateSpace, is pleased to announce the fourth annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, the international competition (including Canada) seeking the next popular novel. The competition will once again award two grand prizes: one for General Fiction and one for Young Adult Fiction. Each winner will receive a publishing contract with Penguin, which includes a $15,000 advance.

The Breakthrough Novel Award brings together talented writers, reviewers, and publishing experts to find and develop new voices in fiction. If you’re an author with an unpublished or previously self-published novel waiting to be discovered, visit CreateSpace to sign up for regular contest updates. Open submissions for manuscripts will begin on January 24, 2011 and run through February 6, 2011. See the official contest rules for more information on how to enter.

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