23rd March 2011

Today In Games and Education

Dragon's Lair FiguresDigital LeisureDigital Leisure announced this morning that the Dragon’s Lair action figures are selling fast, and there are fewer sets available now than there were before. Don’t miss your chance, get them now – $49.99 (+ shipping and taxes if applicable) gets you the starring cast of Dragon’s Lair – Dirk, Daphne, Mordroc and Singe, along with their weaponry and select items from the story. I know this group would look mighty fine on my game collectibles shelf, if I had an expense budget that wasn’t currently screaming out in pain.

behaviour gamesNew from Behaviour Interactive, Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime is now available on Xbox LIVE® Arcade and Windows PC Download at Steam and Atari.com. Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime will be released on PlayStation®Network on March 30th. The new four player, ghost busting adventure that will take players Ghostbusters Sanctum of Slimeon a brand new paranormal experience. Players will suit up with their proton packs and assume the role of a rookie hired by the Ghostbusters to save New York City from a disaster of ghoulish proportions in either single player, or cooperative (online or local).

Play progresses as gamers explore a series of haunted environments that must be cleared of any ectoplasmic threats. The gripping adventure rages on as players encounter gigantic bosses that require a concentrated effort to defeat using a medley of highly destructive weapons including the Proton Stream, Plasma Inductor, and the Fermion Shock. The rookie Ghostbusters will face the dangers of the eerie world alone or with a ghost busting team of friends both locally or online through swarmitethe game’s multiplayer capability.

Those lovably squishy and doggedly determined little blue Swarmite creatures have invaded the tubes at Xbox Live Arcade, and for only 1200 MS points you can welcome them into your home where you can dismember, squash and push them over the edge in the privacy of your living room. Yes, the long-anticipated new release from Hothead Games has been released to the masses. Get it now while the little blue guys are still breathing. You PlayStation 3 owners can also pick up Swarm for $14.99. If you want to know how many Swarmites have been sacrificed for the greater good, check out the Swarm Global Death Counter – at press time it was closing in on 2.4 million. Poor little guys!

ubisoftAlso available now on Steam is Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood for PC. The regular digital version is priced at $49.99USD while the Digital Deluxe version is priced at $59.99USD. The Digital Deluxe version includes all of the basics plus:Ezio in Drachen Armour

* Map of Rome
* 1 Ezio Skin – Helmschmied Drachen Armour
* 2 Exclusive Single-Player Maps: The Trajan Market & The Aqueduct
* 2 Multiplayer Characters, The Officer and The Harlequin
* The Original Codex Written by Altaïr: The history of the Assassins and art of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
* Multiplayer Characters Collectible Trading Cards
* Assassin’s Creed Lineage – The Complete Movie
* Making-Of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood – Behind the Brotherhood
* Game Soundtrack: 22 songs from the original game soundtrack by Jesper Kyd

Digital Premium Edition content is only available via download, and both Steam versions also include the Animus Project 1.0, 2.0 and the Da Vinci Disappearance DLC add-ons.

Incubator GamesIncubator Games has launched its newest kids’ title. This follow-up to Kelvin’s Space Ranch isCO2 Connection called The CO2 Connection, which was built for Science Alberta as an educational game whose main premise is to teach kids about the extraction, compression, transportation and storage of CO2 while decreasing Alberta’s carbon footprint. You can read the development post-mortem on the Incubator Games site and learn about the background and challenges for this game. The CO2 Connection is also available as a free download in the iTunes App Store and is compatible with the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

IBMIBM and Nova Scotia’s MediaSpark Inc. have won a national tender to provide 900 Ontario schools with educational games and simulation software designed to sharpen their business and financial skills as they prepare to meet the growing demands of the 21st Century. MediaSpark worked with IBM Canada to win the tender issued by the Ministry of Education through the Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee.mediaspark

Four of MediaSpark’s GoVenture educational games and simulation software solutions will provide students from grades seven to 12 with highly realistic simulations emphasizing Entrepreneurship, Accounting, Financial Literacy, and Personal Finance skills.

“Games and simulations are revolutionizing education,” says Mathew Georghiou, CEO of MediaSpark Inc. “We are encouraged to see Ontario take a leadership role in adopting new methods of learning. Not only will these simulations help Ontario students, but we believe they have the potential to play an important role in enhancing the grassroots entrepreneurial culture in Ontario, resulting in future prosperity.”

Learners gain experience by being immersed in simulated worlds created with advanced experiential learning and gaming techniques.  For example, in the Entrepreneurship module, students learn how to run a clothing or sporting goods store by testing their abilities with scenarios that map to real challenges faced by new entrepreneurs. They conduct business, get advice, attend training seminars or sell their companies. In the Personal Finance module, students live up to 50 years of their financial futures, virtually, making decisions about money and credit.

“Today’s students are demanding more digital applications and support for alternative learning methods,” said Ralph Chapman, Vice-President, Public Sector, IBM Canada.  “Our ability to deliver this type of advanced learning to Ontario schools provides students with the modern tools they need to better prepare themselves for the new demands of the work world.”

Historically, simulation gaming has been used extensively in the military, by athletes and by scientists to discover effective new strategies and techniques and develop the skills needed to implement them. Businesses have realized the value of this technique and are deploying their own games to create life-like simulations of real markets, customers and business situations that they deal with every day. Gaming technology is also increasingly being used in higher education institutions to complement and extend traditional teaching methods. Currently, more than 1,000 colleges and universities use IBM games in their curricula.

FCACTwo Alberta students and one from Ontario who participated last fall in a contest organized by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) that encouraged enrolment in The City, have won laptop computers.  The City is an online interactive resource that teaches basic financial skills. Students learn from eight “life stage characters” who face various financial circumstances that young people can relate to. The City is a free, Web-based learning program developed by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) and the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC). In order to qualify to win the laptops, the students had to complete four modules and score 100% on a follow-up quiz.  The three winners were then chosen randomly from a draw of all qualified entrants. A school in Toronto has a SMART Board™ thanks to the efforts of teacher Clarence Sze-chun Yeung, a math teacher at SATEC@W.A. Porter Collegiate Institute who enrolled his class in The City.

Another contest is now underway for students and teachers who enrol in The City in the second term. To be eligible, students and teachers in any Canadian province or territory must register and participate in The City before March 31, 2011. The contest rules are available on FCAC’s website

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23rd March 2011

Today In Development and Technology

Pixel to ProductAs the April 15th deadline approaches for the Canadian Digital Media Industry Survey, Pixel To Product is reaching out to the last few digital media agencies on their list. Whether you’re a web designer, information architect, social media marketer or mobile application developer, Pixel To Product is encouraging all digital media practitioners to fill out the survey. It only take 8 minutes to complete, and the final report will be made available free of charge to the community upon completion. Survey respondents get early access to the final report and will be entered into a draw to win prizes as a thank you for their participation.

CMPAThe Canadian Media Production Association (CMPA) applauds the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage for recognizing the importance of fair terms of trade agreements between independent producers and vertically integrated media companies.

In its recent report to the Government of Canada on the impact of private television ownership changes, the Standing Committee recommended that the Government consider the issue of fair terms of trade agreements between independent producers and vertically integrated media companies when reviewing the Canada Media Fund.

“The Committee is to be congratulated for its timely recognition of the need for minimum standards and safeguards for Canadian independent producers in today’s increasingly integrated broadcasting ecosystem,” says Norm Bolen, the Association’s President and CEO. “We interpret the report as a clear signal of support from all political parties for independent producers and the significant role they play both in the Canadian broadcasting system and in Canada’s digital economy,” says Bolen.

“While a terms of trade arrangement has not yet been finalized, we are encouraged that the private broadcasters have remained at the bargaining table in good faith,” says John Barrack, the CMPA’s Chief Negotiator.

Also contained in the Standing Committee’s report on the impact of private television ownership changes is the recommendation that the CRTC examine the growing emergence of non-Canadian broadcast players to determine whether and how such foreign players should support Canadian cultural programming. “We see the potential for these foreign players to erode Canadian broadcasters’ current business models and weaken their ability to contribute to the creation of quality Canadian programming. Accordingly, we agree that a review is both timely and necessary,” says Bolen.

sierra wirelessFor all of you network admin types, Sierra Wireless has unveiled its 4G LTE multi-purpose wireless gateway that leverages the power of the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network. The Sierra Wireless AirLink™ GX440 – the first 4G version of the recently announced AirLink GX400 – delivers the higher bandwidth required by applications including high-quality wireless video surveillance, multi-data-stream wireless connections to branch locations, or mobile office applications for public safety and field service activities. Sierra Wireless is showcasing the AirLink GX440 gateway in the Sierra Wireless stand (1670) at CTIA Wireless, which runs until March 24 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. The AirLink GX440 gateway is expected to be available in the second half of this year, and to help facilitate the 3G-to-4G transition, Sierra Wireless also announced a technology upgrade program that will reduce customer risk by allowing customers to purchase an AirLink GX400 3G gateway now and upgrade to the AirLink GX440 when it becomes available.

vixsViXS Systems Inc. will be collaborating with iPanel TV Inc., a technology provider focused on TV value-added business services with some of the most advanced technology and largest scale deployments in China. By integrating iPanel’s set-top box software, or middleware, into ViXS’ XCode® 4210 series of products, it enables next generation media processing capabilities in the leading Chinese set-top box middleware solution. The combination of iPanel software and ViXS also allows the deployment of streaming content to multiple devices as supported by the Chinese government’s “n-Screen” initiative. N-Screen refers to having the same content being capable of being displayed on a computer, a TV or a smart phone screen.

D-BoxD-BOX Technologies Inc. is going to have global movie-goers shaking all over – the Quebec company has announced a new agreement with Germany-based FTT (the company’s first European distributor for its commercial theatre expansion) to equip a first theatre with Germany’s CinemaxX. The Mülheim theatre will feature two auditoriums with 18 and 32 D-BOX MFX Seats marking the first sale of D-BOX in Germany for commercial theatre use and will generate as well, licensing fees payable to D-BOX in accordance to the systems’ utilization.

“This agreement with FTT further advances our position in the European market with theatres now in Germany and the Netherlands,” said President and CEO of D-BOX Technologies, Claude Mc Master. “This is a great achievement for us as we look to maintain our steady growth in Europe and on a global scale. As confidence in our international distribution model continues to build, we anticipate continued expansion and similar agreements for multiple D-BOX screens.”

“We see the D-BOX experience as a new standard in cutting-edge movie entertainment,” said Thomas Ruettgers of Film Ton Technik. “This theatre will represent an outstanding showcase in Germany coupled with state-of-the-art sound and picture technologies, and high-end amenities. We foresee customers responding overwhelmingly positively to the D-BOX experience.”

Mood MediaToronto’s Mood Media Corporation will be showcasing a suite of market leading in-store media products and services at the upcoming Global Shop 2011 show in Las Vegas beginning March 28, 2011. Mood Media will be debuting its latest visual solution for the North American market, which currently powers the in-store digital signage for several world brands including Nike, Foot Locker and Guess. This turnkey visual solution incorporates Moods talented creative team, a centralized content management system, and solid-state commercial grade hardware.

Mood Media will also be presenting its next generation in-store background music product known as the Trusonic MBOX 4, which is the latest version of the leading Internet-delivered audio solution for retailers today. In addition, Mood Media is debuting its “Now Playing” feature, which works with the MBOX 4’s real-time audio update capabilities, and allows store managers and customers to see song and artist data for each track currently being played via any mobile device such as an iPhone, Android or Blackberry.

Also making its debut is Mood Media’s in-store touch screen casual games kiosks for retailers, which features hit Windows & Mac games from leading publishers such as PopCap Games and Big Fish Games. These interactive kiosks use the successful sample before you purchase technology that has helped Mood Media sell millions of music albums in 2010 through major retailers.

innovacorpNova Scotia’s early stage technology companies are getting improved access to scientific and technology expertise thanks to Innovacorp’s new advisory council. The Science and Technology Advisory Council, which was announced on March 16, will be made up of researchers and industry experts in fields related to Innovacorp’s focus industries, including clean technology, life sciences and information technology.

“I’m delighted to have a group of this calibre as a resource for us and our clients,” said Clifford Gross, president and CEO of Innovacorp. “Their experience, knowledge of science and industry, and contacts in the global community will be invaluable.  The council will also be a great platform for assessing emerging science and technology issues important to Nova Scotia’s economic future.”

Members will provide Innovacorp’s clients with independent, strategic advice about relevance, quality of science, and commercialization potential. Providing Nova Scotia businesses with resources to help them compete globally is part of jobsHere, the province’s plan to grow the economy.

“I am pleased to join Innovacorp’s new advisory council, and I look forward to offering my expertise and perspective to the team,” said Richard Murphy, president of Richard Murphy and Associates Inc. “Innovacorp’s clients include some of the region’s most promising and innovative emerging technology companies. I’m eager to help that community succeed.”

The advisory council builds on Innovacorp’s approach of using a network of external experts to complement its in-house business expertise. The Nova Scotia Crown corporation’s High Performance Incubation business model has earned international recognition for helping entrepreneurs commercialize their technologies. The model incorporates incubation infrastructure, business mentoring, and seed and venture capital investment.

Joining Mr. Murphy on Innovacorp’s Science and Technology Advisory Council are:

— Richard Karsten, associate professor in the department of mathematics and statistics at Acadia University
— Ian Hill, associate professor in the department of physics and atmospheric science at Dalhousie University
— Diana Pliura, president of ALBRY Inc.

corporate renaissance groupCorporate Renaissance Group (CRG), a global provider of innovative solutions that drive better business management and performance, is pleased to announce the availability of an upgrade to CRG emPerform™, its all-inclusive, web-based employee performance management solution.

Version 3.14 is the latest release available and includes administrative enhancements to several areas of emPerform’s functionality; including, eSurvey, Succession Manager, Compensation Manager, and Automated Appraisals. Some of the upgrades include enhanced availability of historical reviews, improved tagging and search functionality, and greater administrative control over succession manager templates and viewer assignment.

“This upgrade reinforces our commitment to providing customers with an easy-to use and flexible talent management suite” said John Smith, Director of Enterprise Business Solutions at CRG. “emPerform 3.14 includes many smaller features that were requested by customers and are aimed at making the software as user-friendly as possible”.

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