6th December 2010

Canadian Technology Continues to Expand

Open TextOpenText provided the social software that helped world leaders, diplomats and policy makers collaborate at the recent G-20 summit in Seoul, South Korea, the second time this year that its solution played a role in the event.The software was first used at the G-20 summit in Toronto in June, marking the first time social media tools had been used at a G-20 to help participants work together during the forum.

The confidential and secure social application has provided a singular, consistent knowledge platform for the G-20 summits this year and, more importantly, offered a way for officials to continue discussions on policies impacting fiscal reform and the global economy between the summits.

As with the Toronto G-20, delegates in Seoul were also able to access the OpenText application from their BlackBerrys, iPhones and iPads. The application supported multiple languages to enhance the ability of participants to collaborate and use the social software productively.

“At the G-20, officials wanted to bring continuity to the way people from around the world work with each other and share knowledge over time,” said James Latham, Chief Marketing Officer at Open Text. “The ongoing international work of the G-20 requires the kind of strong social-collaborative platform we’ve created, and we’ve seen the success so far through two G-20 summits this year.”

Given the heightened focus on security and privacy around the globe, G-20 organizers avoided use of consumer-grade social media tools, which lack enterprise-strength security controls. At the same time, social media offers better ways for people to connect, share and collaborate, than email, so a solution that combined the benefits while reducing the risks was needed. In Toronto, G-8 and G-20 summit participants who used the OpenText social networking application reported that it required minimal training and provided an intuitive web-browser experience tailored to their needs.

The Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was established in 1999 to bring together industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy, in response to financial crises of the late 1990s.

Government of CanadaThe Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Industry, today announced that the Harper government is fast-tracking innovations from the lab to the marketplace through grants to five new Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR). This investment will create jobs and help to foster environments where researchers are able to commercialize their findings to the benefit of Canadians. The five new centres will respectively support microelectronic businesses, regenerative medicine technologies, medical imaging innovations, monitoring technologies used in Canada’s North, and the wireless industry.

“Our government understands that an innovative society and economy depend on creative thinkers whose potential is encouraged and supported,” said Minister Clement. “That’s why we are investing in the ideas, products and technologies generated by these Centres of Excellence to create jobs and businesses, help develop highly skilled people, strengthen our economy and position Canada for long-term prosperity.”

The MiQro Innovation Collaborative Centre (Bromont), the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (Toronto), the Centre for Imaging Technology Commercialization and Research (London), Leading Operational Observations and Knowledge for the North (St. John’s) and the Wavefront Wireless Commercialization Centre (Vancouver) will share $61.1 million over the next five years to pursue major discoveries and product innovations and bring them to the marketplace. Each of these new centres was selected following a rigorous peer review process involving expert panels and a private sector advisory board.

Dr. Suzanne Fortier, Chair of the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) Steering Committee and President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), said the CECR program plays an integral role in the government’s science and technology (S&T) strategy for a more prosperous, advanced and competitive Canada.

“We welcome these five Centres of Excellence into the NCE family,” said Dr. Fortier. “The centres help translate leading-edge research into practical solutions for Canadians, addressing many of our country’s greatest health, environmental, social and economic challenges.”

The CECR program is a cornerstone of Canada’s science and S&T strategy, launched by Prime Minister Harper in 2007. The goals of the strategy are to encourage more private sector investment in research and development, to ensure that discoveries are translated into practical applications, to build upon our strong research base to position Canada at the leading edge of discoveries, and to develop, attract and retain the highly skilled people that Canada needs to thrive in the global knowledge-based economy.

D-BoxD-BOX Technologies Inc. has signed its first agreement with theatre chain Les Cinémas RGFM, to equip its Drummondville location with 24 D-BOX MFX Seats. The Cinéma RGFM Drummondville will be able to offer motion effects just in time for the release of Walt Disney Pictures’ Tron: Legacy. The auditorium will combine 3D with D-BOX’s motion technology, thus widening the offer to moviegoers.

“We are pleased to be announcing a fourth theatre in Quebec, building up our Canadian presence,” said President and CEO of D-BOX Technologies, Claude Mc Master. “In the last few months, we have made numerous theatre announcements in North America, a demonstration of the popularity our motion systems have on moviegoers.”

“We are thrilled to be offering our moviegoers D-BOX’s motion technology. This innovation blends in perfectly with our company’s philosophy to serve the public the latest technologies. On top it’s a Quebec-based company”, said Marcel Venne, president of Les Cinémas RGFM

gottaconCon fans may want to check out GottaCon, which celebrates its third anniversary this February 4 – 6th at the Pearkes Recreation Centre in the Field House Room in Victoria, BC. GottaCon will run 24 hours a day starting at 5pm Friday and will continue with non-stop gaming until 7pm Sunday night. The convention, which covers 24 000 square feet of space, has a variety of ticket options available at reasonable prices and tournament registrations are open. GottaCon is also looking for volunteers to help out during the event.

GottaCon will have all you need to survive such an adventure; contests, tournaments, vendors, demonstrations, food, drinks, entertainment and of course all types of games:

– Warhammer 40K North American Championships Qualifier
– Warhammer Fantasy North American Championships Qualifier
– Warhammer War of the Ring North American Championships Qualifier
– Warmachine Steamroller GottaCon ChampionshipsTournament
– Miniature Painting Contest
– Xbox 360 Call of Duty: Black Ops tournaments (4vs4 and Free for All)
– Xbox 360 Halo Reach tournaments (4vs4 and Free for All)
– Xbox 360 Rainbow 6: Vegas 2 Tournament (4vs4)
– Xbox 360 Gears of War 2 Tournament (2vs2)
– Xbox 360 Super Street Fighter 4 Tournament
– PC Starcraft 2 Tournaments (2vs2 and 1vs1)
– PC Call of Duty: Black Ops Tournaments (4vs4 and Free for All)
– PC Counter-Strike Source Tournament (5vs5)
– PC Left 4 Dead 2 Team Surviaval Challenge
– PC Team Fortress 2 Tournament (5vs5)
– PC Unreal Tournament Game of the Year Edition Team Death Match with Deathmatch Final
– Magic: The Gathering – VIMC M:TG Open (2011)
– World of Warcraft TCG Ashenvale Forest Realm Qualifer
– Costume Contest
– GottaCon 2011 Gamers Silent Auction

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3rd December 2010

SIGGRAPH 2011 Call For Submissions and Volunteers

Siggraph 2011SIGGRAPH announces the 2011 Call for Submissions for contributors and volunteers for the 38th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques, Sunday 7 August through Thursday, 11 August 2011 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. This marks the first time that SIGGRAPH (North America) will be held outside of the United States.

From students to studio executives, from scientists to researchers, SIGGRAPH is home to the best and brightest minds in computer graphics. The theme behind SIGGRAPH 2011 is to “Make it Home” based along the philosophical idea that “home” is a positive place where everyone gathers, and they are free to exchange ideas and different outlooks. Home is a place where bonds are made or strengthened and sharing is a core belief.

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“We are excited to call such a world-class city home for SIGGRAPH 2011, the first time in our history to be outside the United States: furthermore, we are encouraging our community to feel comfortable submitting and discussing wide-ranging ideas or concepts just as they would in their homes,” says Pete Braccio, SIGGRAPH 2011 Conference Chair from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. “Vancouver already has a broad and fertile computer graphics atmosphere, and it is our goal to enrich it even further with your help, ideas, and inspirations.”

All work submitted to SIGGRAPH 2011 through the Call for Submissions is reviewed by a highly qualified jury composed of top practitioners in the relevant field. Because each jury needs time to review each piece carefully, submission deadlines generally are several months before the conference. All submission deadlines are 22:00 UTC/GMT and are strictly enforced.

The latest submission deadlines are:

Art Gallery and Art Papers: Friday, 14 January 2011
Game Papers: Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Technical Papers: Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Student Volunteer Applications: Monday, 14 February 2011
General Submission (Courses, Emerging Technologies, Panels, Posters , Talks, The Studio): Friday, 18 February 2011
SIGGRAPH Dailies!: Friday, 18 February 2011
Real-Time Live!: Friday, 15 April 2011
Computer Animation Festival – Films: Friday, 15 April 2011
Late-Breaking Work (Late-Breaking Posters, Late-Breaking Talks): Friday, 6 May 2011
Computer Animation Festival – Animation Clinic: Tuesday, 10 May 2011

In 2011, Make It Home – To Vancouver

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3rd December 2010

Will Facebook Connect Requirement Stop You From Nominating a Title

According to my Twitterfeed this morning, congratulations are due to David Lightbown, Senior Artistic Waldorf Comic and Zine FairTechnical Director at Behaviour Interactive for being named as the winner of the Autodesk® Maya® Master Award. Check out his Autodesk interview on the Autodesk interview.

The Waldorf Hotel in Vancouver will be holding a Comic and Zine Fair on Sunday, December 19th from 11:30am – 7:00pm. The event will feature American artist Dame Darcy, who will be signing books and performing with her band, Death by Doll. Other comic artists and zine makers who will be in attendance include Ed Brisson, Robin Bougin, Cloudscape Comic Collective among others. Check out the event’s Facebook page for more information and table space availability.

Canadian Video Game AwardsThe first nominees for the 2011 Canadian Video Game Awards have been announced: Dead Rising 2, Dead Rising 2: Case Zero, EA Sports Active 2, Trainyard, Lil Pirates and Top Bar. Make sure your favourite Canadian-made games of 2010 are nominated, submit your choices today. Please note that the nomination process does require Facebook Connect – I’ve noticed that a few people have stated that they will not send in their nominations due to that fact, and while it’s a step that I too could do without, I hope that it will not deter too many of you from nominating games to the awards process. We also use Facebook Connect on this site, as we thought it would make it more convenient for cybele negrisreaders to comment on articles if they wanted – is this not the case? Do you find Facebook Connect to be an intrusion?

Webnames.ca President and Co-Founder Cybele Negris will be participating in the launch of Momcafé in the Fraser Valley on January 13th, 2011 (9:00 – 11:00a.m.). Join Cybele and Chillwack mayor Sharon Gaetz at the Clayburn Gourmet Gallery as they discuss how they have navigated their way through different career paths to find their passion while balancing the responsibilities of family. Childcare is available during this event, and a portion of ticket sales will be donated to Matthew’s House. Please see the registration page for complete list of ticket prices and options.
EA Sports
EA Sports has released two new videos for Fight Night Champion featuring boxer Andre Bishop. You can view Part One here, Part Two is also posted on our YouTube channel. Fight Night Champion takes the boxing experience one giant step forward by delivering an experience never before seen in an EA Sports video game. Fighting as contender Andre Bishop in an all-new story-based Champion Mode or as one of more than 50 legends or future champions, battle your way to the top in the boxing revolution that builds upon the best-in-class gameplay and physics engine of the critically acclaimed Fight Night Round 4.

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Indie studio SillySoft has released v1.12 of their board game-inspired title Castle Vox for the PC. The developers offer a free demo download which includes a Tutorial map, a Hex Barons medieval kings map, and a World War 2 – Axis vs Allies modern map.sillysoft

The reasonable purchase price of $14.00 allows players to access  over 40 more hand-crafted maps including the American Civil War, the Hundred Years War, Napoleon, the Roman Empire and a Map Editor that can be used to create even more Geographic and Hex maps.

Play online multi-player games with once-a-day moves, or fast online skirmishes. Team-chat lets you collaborate in team scenarios. Achievements track your progress through the different wars. Impressive rank titles accompany your advances.

Rogers WirelessRogers Communications Inc. has unveiled the company’s vision for tablet and mini tablet devices. Anchored by growing customer demand to be connected on multiple devices any time, any place, Rogers announced three new initiatives including new data sharing plans, the upcoming launch of Rogers On Demand Online for tablets and plans to introduce remote PVR capabilities on tablets and smartphones for its Rogers Digital Cable customers.

“The tablet is the command centre – a mobile hub through which our customers will be able to access everything in their world – from reading email for work to looking at photos, programming their televisions to turning on lights at home, checking on friends on Facebook and even updating their personal finances,” says John Boynton, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Rogers Communications. “Our role is to enable these experiences seamlessly and reliably across all devices. Our announcement today reflects our commitment to ensuring we continue to meet the evolving needs of our customers.”

Rogers also unveiled the results of a recent poll of tablet and non-tablet owners, conducted by the Strategic Counsel. Close to 60 per cent of those surveyed who currently do not own a tablet agree that tablets will transform the way we live, work and play, and 42 per cent say they plan to purchase a tablet within the next year. Of those surveyed who have already purchased a tablet, the vast majority (69 per cent) claim they take their tablet everywhere they go and 58 per cent state their tablet is typically the first device they turn on in the morning.

“What we are seeing is a shift from one device to many devices connected together, anytime, anyplace,” Boynton continues. “The tablet is the dashboard for the highways of tomorrow, where people can easily access the same personalized experiences at work, in the home or on the go. We will provide the best tablet selection, integrate Rogers content on devices and build new pricing structures to make it easy for customers to make tablets part of their work, home and personal lives.”

Boynton made the remarks in a keynote speech at Rogers TabLife TO, an event Rogers organized to showcase the way tablets are changing the way we live work and play. The event brought industry leaders, manufacturers and experts to share experiences with tablets in communications, healthcare, business, media and entertainment. More information on Rogers TabLife TO conference can be found at www.tablife.ca.

A tablet-optimized version of Rogers On Demand Online will feature hours of primetime TV, movies, sports, music and will adapt perfectly to a variety of tablet screen sizes and operating systems. In 2011, customers will be able to go online on any tablet free of charge (standard data rates apply) to access Rogers On Demand as well as Rogers’ new Remote PVR service to set and manage recordings from any tablet, and smartphone anywhere, anytime. Rogers On Demand Online and Remote PVR for tablets will be available in early 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

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3rd December 2010

Canada Q4 Information Technology Report Now Available

research and marketsThe Q4 Canada Information Technology Report from Research and Markets, which provides industry professionals and strategists, corporate analysts, information technology associations, government departments and regulatory bodies with independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on Canada’s information technology industry is now available for purchase for approximately $780.00 (581.00 EUR). Here is a summary of what is contained in the report, but you can receive a sample of the actual report by registering on the Research and Markets site.

Market Overview

The Canadian addressable domestic market for IT products and services is projected by BMI to reach US$41.4bn in 2010 and US$47.5bn by 2014. Canada PC sales grew strongly in H110, with unit sales estimated by BMI at more than 3mn units, and new outsourcing and IT services contracts in the public and private sectors pointed to underlying demand potential.

In our core IT forecast scenario, market growth will be around 10% in 2010 and advance at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.6% over our five-year forecast period. Government spending in 2010 will be constrained by a focus on cutting costs, but a stimulus measure allowing business taxpayers to expense all of the value of their investment in computers and systems in one year is forecast to provide a boost to the IT market over the next two years.

The government’s digital economic strategy provides a framework for IT market growth, with a number of two-year programmes having been confirmed in the federal 2010 budget. Meanwhile, the consumer segment remains a bright spot, with a steadily improving unemployment situation supportive of consumer confidence.

Industry Developments

In its 2010 budget, delivered in March, the Canadian government confirmed plans to launch a digital economy strategy. In the 2009 budget, the government announced several two-year programmes, and much of the budget this year was focused on the roll-out of these existing plans rather than new funding initiatives. Among the initiatives confirmed from 2009 was Broadband Canada, which received US$225mn of funding over three years.

In the 2009 budget, the government introduced a subsidy for business computer hardware purchase, which is expected to have a major impact on the IT market. The measure proposed a 100% capital cost allowance rate for computer hardware and systems software acquired between January 27 2009 and February 1 2011. It has been estimated the measure could provide a US$700mn boost to the information and communication technology (ICT) market.

Competitive Landscape

International vendors dominate the Canadian PC market. HP, Acer and Dell were the leading vendors in Q210, ahead of rivals such as Toshiba and Lenovo. Telecoms operators have emerged as one significant channel for PC sales. This year, Canadian telecoms companies competed to offer bundling deals involving Apple’s iPad. Rogers and Bell both offered plans that gave users 250MB of data for CAD15 per month, as well as a high-end plan of 5GB of data for CAD35 per month.
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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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1st December 2010

Shaw Rocket Prize Winner Named

notsoftOshawa indie game studio NotSoft is getting into the holiday spirit by giving away the full version of their casual game, Wytches Brew, free of charge.

Wytches Brew features five modes of play, including an epic 52 chapter quest that has the player share a year long journey with 3 Wytches as they travel around their island brewing up magical potions for those in need. With four other play wytches brewmodes, including timed modes and modes with relaxed rules, Wytches Brew offers something for casual gamers of every skill level.

“We don’t have much of a marketing budget, and with the game’s story mode beginning on Yuletide we thought giving it away during the holiday season would be a great way to attract new players,” said Steven J. Hill (aka bignobody), the man behind NotSoft, “Especially since people’s budgets are often tight at this time of year.”

I have been playing Wytches Brew off and on for a few months now, and while I haven’t yet completed the game, I have found it to be a different take on the match 3+ genre. I will be writing a review for this game once I have played through to the end, but as I have often confessed, I am more of a console gamer than a PC gamer – my PC is just too closely related to…work. 😉

shaw rocket prizeCongratulations to Dino Dan from Sinking Ship Entertainment, winner of the prestigious $50,000 Shaw Rocket Prize for 2010 after being voted the best in Canadian kids’ programming for ages 6-12. Dino Dan is an entertaining and educational TV show about a 10-year-old boy who loves interacting with dinosaurs in his imagination and learning about them. This show was favourited by kids of all ages across Canada as well as in the US, where it recently achieved the record as the highest watched debut episode on Nick Jr. in its history. Dino Dan was judged for quality and content both for the TV show and its online content. The kids jury loved playing games and digging up dinosaurs on dinodan.com.

Other titles in the running for this year’s Rocket Prize were:

How to Be Indie (DHX Media)
In Real Life (Apartment 11)
Jimmy Two-Shoes (Breakthrough Entertainment)
League of Super Evil (Nerd Corps)

OpenFeint DevelopersAs the freemium model continues to gain momentum in the mobile gaming space, developers are looking for the best ways to apply the lucrative model to their games. Today, OpenFeint is encouraging developers sell downloadable content in their games by announcing a $1 million free-to-play mobile games challenge.

The OFX Freemium Challenge waives the revenue share on OpenFeint’s just released OFX software development kit for up to $10,000 per developer, available to the first 100 games that go live. With this challenge, developers can implement OFX and sell up to $10,000 in downloadable content in game before sharing any revenue.

“With the OFX Freemium Challenge, developers will see how easy-to-use and profitable OFX can be in their games with little commitment,” says Jason Citron, CEO of OpenFeint. “We’ve all seen that the freemium model is generating some amazing results. OFX gives developers the tools they need to take advantage of this emerging model.”

Mega Jump has proved to us that the freemium model is a great way to earn revenue as an independent developer,” said Derek van Vliet of Get Set Games. “Since changing the game to freemium we’ve seen a 400% increase in overall revenue.”
Mega Jump Celebrates 7 million
Mega Jump celebrated 7 million downloads, and stated on their site that “hot on the heals of Update 10, Update 11 is just around the corner, featuring the astonishing new upgradable Jump Boots and a couple of new rascals who will be joining the growing Mega Jump family of characters.”

Released today, OFX is a set of client and cloud based services that help game developers sell new content in their games without having to submit full game updates to Apple. Future updates will allow game developers to offer virtual currency and virtual goods for sale in their games. OFX is completely free for game developers to download and implement in their games. OpenFeint only shares in revenue earned from the sale of paid downloadable content in games sold with OFX.

intuitIntuit’s online personal finance service Mint.com is now available to Canadians. Mint helps people see where their money goes, keep their spending on track by creating budgets they’ll stick with, and uncovers opportunities to save them money. And it’s free.
“Canadians are global leaders when it comes to the use of online banking, social media and other online activities, so bringing Mint.com to Canada was a natural next step,” said Aaron Patzer, general manager and vice president of Intuit Personal Finance and founder of Mint.com. “A uniquely Canadian version of Mint will help Canadians make informed decisions as they plan their financial lives.”

Setting up a Mint account takes about five minutes – users register anonymously using a valid e-mail address, and then add login information for the online banking, credit card and other financial accounts they want to consolidate. Mint connects securely to more than 40 Canadian banking financial institutions, and is adding more. Users can ask Mint to add support for their favourite bank from within their account.

After users register, Mint automatically aggregates their accounts and transaction information, and provides up-to-date and accurate views of their financial life. Mint offers many ways to view and graph information, and the flexibility to scan the big picture or focus on specific details:

* Analyzes spending – Mint reveals spending patterns by automatically categorizing expenses, showing how much a user pays for gas, groceries, parking, rent, restaurants, entertainment and more.
* Makes recommendations – Mint also saves users money by providing unique, money-saving and money-making suggestions based on users’ individual spending patterns. Slowly paying down a high-interest credit card? Mint will recommend a lower-interest card. Paying more for life insurance than others of a similar age in your region? Mint can often find a better deal. Offer data for the recommendations is provided by RateSupermarket.ca, Canada’s largest independent and impartial rate comparison service for personal finance products.

In addition, Mint is available for those on the go. Users can view their Mint account from a password-protected website or check in on the go with the free Mint.com mobile applications for iPhone and Android mobile phones, available on the iTunes Canada app store and Android Market. Read the rest of this entry »

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1st December 2010

Canadians Increasingly Susceptible to Counterfeit Purchases

Microsoft CanadaAccording to a new survey by Ipsos Reid, 75 per cent of Canadians claim their strategy is to spend less over the holidays this year due to recent economic conditions. As such, Canadians are looking for ways to stretch their holiday dollars, and are turning to online sites in search for the latest deals.

The survey, commissioned by Microsoft Canada Inc. (online poll of 1,025 Canadians was conducted in November 2010 by Ipsos Reid. The results are considered accurate to within +/- 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20), also revealed that 68 per cent of Canadians believe that deal-seekers may not get what they bargained for with the broad availability of counterfeit goods. With more and more Canadians making online purchases this holiday season, many also admit they are more likely to comparison shop to ensure they are getting the most for their dollar.

The search for the lowest price increases the likelihood of counterfeiters successfully attracting bargain hunters with non-genuine products including toys, clothing, video games, and software, many of which are highly sophisticated and difficult for the average consumer to detect.
how to tell
Focusing on what it calls the “three Es” — Education, Engineering and Enforcement — Microsoft makes a significant investment each year into educational resources to help consumers protect themselves. This approach also includes the development of new technologies that make counterfeiting software more difficult, and working with governments to enforce laws against software counterfeiters and bring them to justice.

“Consumers need to take extra measures when making purchases this holiday season, especially those made online,” said Chris Tortorice, Corporate Counsel, Anti-Piracy, Microsoft Canada Inc. “Both software piracy and counterfeiting crime span globally, and the only way to stop it is to educate consumers on what to look for to ensure they don’t purchase illegitimate product. Microsoft offers resources like the www.howtotell.com website and the 1-800-RU LEGIT piracy hotline for suspicious consumers that feel the software they purchased may not be genuine.”

Sixty-eight per cent of Canadians recognize that the counterfeit-goods market is a billion-dollar industry worldwide. This scepticism means they are likely to proactively try to recognize the real from the fake. Fortunately, there are also many government and non-government organizations dedicated to arming consumers with both knowledge and advice. Read the rest of this entry »

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