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19th January 2010

Meanwhile, on the other side of the century: A Drupal House’s Adventures in Social Media

by 80elements.com

What began as intermittent tweets and a few flickr images has been transformed into a nearly full time job. Social media today is seen as essential for business. The Business To Client broadcast model is dead, many maintain, and conversations between users on forums and facebook pages are becoming the norm. One-way brick and mortar business is simply not enough.  As overheard in a recent social media course, “for many people today, if you don’t exist online, then you don’t exist in real life.” A pretty big statement to make, no doubt, but there is a definite basis for this.

A year ago, a twitter account, a facebook group, and a flickr page were in use by 80elements to increase social media presence – all were set up, but keeping each active was not viable due to a deficit of time to devote to active creation. A solid message is difficult to maintain without this consistency, and so the 80E social media image was blurry.  Today, 80E blogs, vlogs, facebooks, tweets, and updates linkedin along with a real aim towards consistency in time and identity. This shift has created a full time commitment towards social media and has brought the entire team into the mix, affecting each of us in different ways. As a business, especially in web and iPhone app development, if we aren’t active online, we do not exist. Social media time is thus allotted into the production and promotion schedules. So far, so good, but time will identify the true long-term return on investment.

As one can quickly learn from blogs and google searches, the reasons for a business to move into social media are both numerous and necessary. Each business will soon be aiming towards creating online identity through Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, google profiles, Youtube, blogging and all sorts of other new social sites coming and going. The data and content to pull it off can be staggering. To top it off, it can be very easy to have your content become part of the blur of data that passes us by online. “Every minute, 20 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube.” That is a HUGE amount of data to contend with, and equal to the very viral J*zz In My Pants by The Lonely Island being uploaded 480 times per minute or 28800 times per hour. A unique branding strategy is necessary to keep people interested, and keep your brand visible and searchable online.

Where does all this data go after it’s no longer viral/live? Thankfully for search, it stays online. Like your status updates on Facebook, your data is not deleted from the system – it is merely backed up.  In 50 years, if YouTube continued to receive the same upload levels as current (doubtful as it will of course fluctuate), then J*zz In My Pants could be stored 12 614 400 000 separate times. A twitter update, or an occupation field on LinkedIn, are not that data heavy – if twitter were to have similar data creation rates, in 50 years, this would be equivalent to  4 054 628 571 541 200 tweets of 140 characters. All of it stored, backed up and, in the end, no longer owned by the creator/user.

Personally, if I am approached to work with a person or business, I first look online. If I find little/nothing, it can be a definite hindrance to moving forward. Questions may spring to mind: “why are they not online? What are they hiding? Should I be concerned about this?” and I find it more difficult to make a decision. Indeed, many employers do this with potential employees as well (LinkedIn, Facebook). Which identity is more valid? After finding more information online, my opinion of my real life experience can most definitely be changed. Research and reassess after all, and this comes into play with all identities. In 10 years, the line between online and offline identities will be much less defined, let alone half a century from now.

As social networks expand, our personal data is pulled out further and further from its source.  If you wanted to remove your presence from the internet today, could you? How about in 50 years, when Facebook has shut down (or not) and all that data is still on its servers, owned by someone other than yourself. Remember Friendster, the old ICQ and sixdegrees.com? They’ll remember you. A demand exists for those who want to get out of the game. A successful social media suicide app, designed by developer mobblr_, would delete your online presence but has now been banned by Facebook. Terms of use violation, Facebook asserts. Attempted data loss, definitely.

As a company, this may not be a big issue, but as a private individual, this may be the start of a change in how we interact.

“In 2006, AOL voluntarily released the search data of 650,000 of its users over a three-month period — some 20 million Web queries in total. Although the AOL user name had been changed to a random ID number, one could analyze all the searches done by a single user and deduce who the person was. Understandably, the online community was outraged, and AOL acted swiftly, removing the data and issuing apologetic press releases.” For users, its too little, too late.

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Where will social media be in 50 years? This is a big question and one that requires an answer and major goals to be set. If this is not brought up in the present, then the future design and architecture of our online (read: new reality) world will be out of the hands of those it affects most: the users. These users are people, governments, businesses, and even religions (yes, the Vatican has a Facebook Page).  When/if privacy concerns overwhelm the system, a big shift will occur once again.

In the end, I of course do not have an answer for how or what will happen, but I do assert that if it is not the public that steps forward to maintain its rights to information and to identity, then it will be out of the public’s hands. If I am not in control of my identity, then someone else will be. If online and offline identities are blurred, where will I end up? Where will I exist in the world?

“Web 3.0” will necessitate a rebellion.

by Ryan at 80elements.com

ryan@eightyelements.com

Feed – twitter.com/80elements

Vlog – youtube.com/ryan80Elements

FB – facebook.com/ryan80e

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2nd January 2010

Goodbye 2009 Hello 2010

I want to wish all of Village Gamer’s readers and friends a very happy, productive, profitable and safe New Year. To those of you who have supported the site with product copies for review and news items, thank you – your support has been greatly appreciated. To those who are still waiting on reviews to be completed – I’m working on it – The Cavechild (who has vowed to get out more in 2010) has been assisting in some areas, and the two of us are working through the backlog to get caught up while Scott is kept busy on the server side of things. I occasionally kidnap some of the volunteer staff from our other site to help out with the chores, and I have to thank them for stepping up to the plate when needed.

I certainly wasn’t prepared for the welcome and success Village Gamer has enjoyed over the past year, and while this is all very good,  I’ve found that my time and project management skills are due for a major upgrade.  These are areas which I will be seriously working on as Village Gamer continues to grow and move forward into the next decade – but I can’t talk about that yet, Orby has me under an NDA and I wouldn’t want to end up like the fireworks he’s found – I’m not really sure just what his joystick controller is attached to, so I’ll have to wait on the sharing of news about Village Gamer’s future.

In the meantime, as we look back on the turbulence of 2009, all of us saw many local studios fade to black as they closed their doors forever. While the resulting talent pool is a boon to the other remaining and opening-soon studios, it was still sad to see the game development landscape go through such a major shift. I can only hope that 2010 will bring a brighter outlook for BC’s development industry, especially as we welcome new studios and production houses – let’s all hope that the closing of studios has ended with the passing of this first decade of the 21st century.

This past year also saw the merging of New Media BC and winBC to become DigiBC. This is an event which I am still not convinced was the best move for a provincial industry association, but I will save that opinion for a later post. The digital media industry has grown in both strength and exposure in recent years – not just in Canada but globally, and as provincial governments now vie to have the biggest studios in their respective provinces, we see even more shifting of the digital landscape. This is one of those times when I wish that our country was more united and willing to work together for the betterment of all Canadians instead of just looking out for their own provincial interests. I am in agreement with those involved with the Canada 3.0 forum – we need a viable national strategy, because the times are-a-changing and Canada, while it’s a big country, isn’t really big enough to successfully maintain a hostile and competitive atmosphere among regions as the digital technology industry matures.

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6th December 2009

Village Gamer Gift List For 2009

Christmas OrbyWith the holidays once again upon us, I’ve put together a list highlighting a few ideas for holiday gift giving. All of the prices listed are suggested retail prices, and do not take into account special retail sale prices. There are many, many great Canadian-developed game titles published every year, what I have listed here is but a small sampling. To search out more Canadian titles, I invite you to browse through the many titles I’ve talked about throughout the year. You can find them by hovering over the Games button to the left, and then choosing to browse either by Genre or Rating.

The easy gift solutions for that hard-to-buy-for gamer include the always timeless gift cards – whether for the Wii, Xbox 360 or PlayStation Network, these gift cards are always a safe bet, especially when you’re worried about duplicate games or “the wrong game” resulting in a less than enthusiastic reception. When giving the gift of game, please check the ESRB game rating to be sure that the title is age-appropriate, and if you are giving a game to a young person who is not living in your own household, check with the parents to see if they approve of the title. The ESRB has recently released a handy (and free) iPhone App so that you can search full game ratings anywhere, anytime.

PlayStation Network Cards have two versions: $20.00 or $50.00 and are good for both the PS3 and PSP. You can also buy game cards, which will allow for the downloading of games directly to the PSP. Check with local game retailers to see what game cards are available. Zombie Tycoon, developed for the PSP and available exclusively on the PlayStation Network, was developed by Frima Studio.

Xbox Live also has two versions: 1400 points ($19.99) or 2800 points ($39.99)
Xbox Live Gold 12 month subscription: $59.99

Nintendo offers a 2000 Points card which is good for either the Wii or the DSi WiiWare Store ($19.99). There are some great Canadian titles available in the WiiWare store such as Copter Crisis (Wii) and Sudoku Challenge (DSi), both developed by Digital Leisure.

For those with iPhone or iPod users on their list, there are always the iTunes gift cards – just remember that Canadian iTunes cards CANNOT be used to purchase items in the App store on a Canadian iTunes store account; it is only good in the iTunes store itself. If you want your gift recipient to be able to shop in the App Store, I highly recommend the Vanilla Master Card. I’ve used them many times and have never yet had a problem with them – something I can’t say for cards such as the MyTreat gift credit cards. Naturally, there are also the store-brand gift cards for EB Games, Best Buy and Future Shop to name but three – check with your gamer’s favourite retailers to see if they offer gift cards. There are also a few subscription games which have cards available for game subscriptions and in-game items.

There are some great Canadian iPhone/iTouch developers with products in the App Store, including Genius Factor Games, IUGO Mobile Entertainment, Big Blue Bubble, PowerUp Studios, No Robots Interactive, Glass House Games, Howling Moon Games, LotusLand Studios, A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Games, Fuel Games, Cerebral Vortex Games and Tickle Tap Apps for youngsters – to name but a few.

For tech toddlers, I fully endorse Canadian-developed ClickToy The Meadow. This game is wonderful in ClickToy The Meadowits simplicity and encourages quiet story time at the PC with a parent. ClickToy has the ability to lock a PC keyboard so that the child cannot exit the game and wreak havoc in your files. Filled with colourful scenery and soothing music, this game is sure to please even those in the throes of terrible two-ness. Parents can order ClickToy online for both the PC and Mac, or pick it up at Apple Stores across Canada as well as in nine Vancouver-area Zeller’s stores (Lansdowne, Oakridge, Brentwood, Coquitlam, Scottsdale Centre, White Rock, Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack). At only $19.99, it’s a great interactive entertainment value.Academy of Champions

My family title top pick is Ubisoft Vancouver’s debut game for the Wii, Academy of Champions Soccer featuring soccer greats Pele and Mia Hamm. Built for one or two players, Academy of Champions is easy to learn and fun to play. Both Story Mode and Quick Play offer hours of endless action, with mini games along the way, as well as skill and equipment upgrades to unlock. Academy of Champions encourages fair play and good sportsmanship initiatives along with a well-designed and beautifully animated game environment. At only $29.99, Academy of Champions is a great buy, and at last check was in stock at Best Buy, Future Shop and EB Games.

Another great game for kids and family is Monsters vs Aliens, developed by Quebec City’s Beenox Studios Monsters vs Aliensfor the Wii, PlayStation 2 and 3, Xbox 360 and PC. The Monsters vs. Aliens video game calls players into action to battle against Gallaxhar and his alien robot army. Taking on the roles of The Missing Link, the macho half-ape, half-fish; the gelatinous, indestructible and always hungry B.O.B.; and Ginormica, the 49-foot-11-inch tall woman, gamers team up with the helpful genius Dr. Cockroach, Ph.D. and Insectosaurus, the 350-foot tall grub to defeat the alien invaders. Players master the unique and diverse abilities of each character as they ooze, brawl, skate, puzzle solve, climb, crawl, jump and race through more than 20 levels on Earth and through outer space.

The musically inclined family will enjoy Guitar Hero Smash Hits, also from Beenox Studios. Guitar Hero® Guitar HeroGreatest Hits is a compilation of 48 top hits from previous versions of the Guitar Hero® franchise, all updated for full band play on Guitar Hero® World Tour. The Greatest Hits releases have been produced from Guitar Hero® master recordings and feature several play modes – career mode, rockstar creator, Guitar Hero® music studio and an eight player online battle of the bands. The playlist is expandable through downloadable content, and has a suggested retail price of $59.99 for the 360 and PS3,  $49.99 for the Wii and $39.99 for the PS2.

For more family play, I also recommend the latest Scene It? title, Bright Lights! Big Screen! One word of Scene It? Wii Versioncaution though, this game is rated “T” for Teen (Drug Reference, Mild Blood, Mild Language, Mild Violence, Sexual Themes). Developed by Montreal’s Artificial Mind & Movement, Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen! has enhanced single and multi-player gameplay. Single-player mode tests player speed and knowledge, while multi-player mode allows for a spirited social gameplay experience, perfect for parties and family gatherings. Up to four teams can test their silver screen knowledge with more than 20 different puzzles and minigames across four play modes, providing new and unique ways for Scene It? competitors to engage. Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen! is available for the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360. This title is available at stores for only $39.99.PunchOut!!

Next Level Games‘ remake of the E10 rated Punch Out! is another great family title that will get everyone into the virtual ring. Gamers can use either the Wiimote system or the classic controller to battle their way through the ranks, Players will find familiar names like Glass Joe, King Hippo and trainer Doc Louis. Next Level Games has brought the Punch Out characters back to life again with cell-shaded 3-D visuals, complete with hilarious fighting animations and back stories that capture all the fun and flair of the original Punch-Out!! games.

Where's WaldoWaldo has gotten lost in game land, and game creators Ludia invite players to immerse themselves in “Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey” – the ultimate search-and-find adventure for the entire family. Players can explore the unique and wondrous lands in search of Waldo, his friends and other hidden objects.The game is now available for the Wii™ system from Nintendo, the Nintendo DS™ system, Windows-based PC and Mac at North American retailers. Ludia has also developed such titles as Hell’s Kitchen, The Price Is Right, Press Your Luck and Family Feud.

Sports fans have a whole field of Canadian-made sport titles from EA Sports, including such worldwide hits as FIFA 2010, NHL 2010, Fight Night Round 4. All of the EA titles are available on a variety of platforms – check each game’s link to see if it’s available for your platform.

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8th October 2009

The Other Side of the Coin Part 3

OrbyWelcome to Part Three of our look at Canadian women who game. This section will probably interest those of you who are developers the most and give you some clear insight about these gamers’ thoughts about the products you develop. If you missed previous entries for this series, you can find them here:

The Other Side of the Coin Part One and The Other Side of the Coin Part Two

Today’s installment will look at the benefits we gain from gaming, how we choose the titles we do, and what we’d like to see in the games we play.

Probably one of the most foremost reasons for gaming is the entertainment factor and the escapism many of us seek when we game. That said, as gaming becomes more and more social with multiplayer components, forums, groups and events, gamers are able to enter new worlds of possibility with their games. Without a doubt, one of the most-mentioned gains achieved through gaming was the social aspect, as shown in the replies below.

Question: What do you feel is your greatest gain from being a gamer (friends, community, challenges, learning)

Rachel: Definitely making new friends, and being a part of a community, but also gaming has really forced me to think differently. There’s a lot of thinking outside the box that goes on in games and I like that challenge.

Annette: I feel that the gaming community is one of the best out there. So many of the communities out there work well together and have great people.

Megan: Probably the community. I’ve benefited a lot from the gaming community, particularly GamerchiX. I’ve met a lot of great gamers and have learned a lot around the GamerchiX forums.

Chloe: Oh man, toughest question yet. Friends and community are definitely among my top gains. From my clan, I have some amazing girl friends I NEVER would have without having met them through gaming, and I have learned an INCREDIBLE amount about leadership and the challenges that come with it from the same sources at times! My best friend and I would never have met without gaming, and I can’t imagine my life now without his influence and seemingly unending ability to listen to me rant. Community is so huge though, I think it’s got to be the #1. Because it’s a result of this community that I have these experiences, that I have these friends. So having been a part of PMS Clan and helping to build the community of the GamerchiX was super important to me.

Jenny: I think the greatest gain is the ability to interact with the online community. I’ve met some really great people on Live, and it’s a blast playing with them all.

Lee: Friends and community.

Jen: I love the social aspect of gaming. I’ve made so many friends from playing on Live, some of which I feel closer to than my “real life” friends. I love sharing the sense of accomplishment of finishing a game with a co-op partner, working your team to reach that objective point, or finishing that instance with your guild. It really does enhance my gaming experience. Read the rest of this entry »

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6th October 2009

The Other Side of the Coin Part Two

OrbyIf you missed Part One of this editorial, you can read it here.

In this installment, the ladies and I will be discussing gaming and families, being a gamer parent, competitive gaming and “gaming in a boys’ world.”

Our first area of conversation today will be regarding our families and video games. It’s no secret that in some families, video games are considered to be a waste of time and a bad influence; I’ve experienced that within my own family, often to our own amusement. Those who know me know that I am not one for jewelry and trinkets. My tastes are simple. I like computers, games, books and photography. My sister-in-law likes trinkets. Expensive trinkets. Two years ago, Scott bought me the Legend of Zelda limiited edition gold DS Lite for Christmas. When we were at my parents that morning, my sister-in-law was happily showing me the latest diamond and gold trinket my brother bought her for Christmas. I just as happily pulled my shiny new DS out of my hoody pocket and said “Here’s the gold I got for Christmas.” She looked at me, completely aghast, and said “You wanted that?” I replied with “well, yeah.” Plus, I have to give Scott a lot of credit – he supports my gaming activities, and has often heard the “yes, I’ll be up to bed in a bit, I just want to finish this mission. And the next one…and the next one…”

To find out about other gaming families across the country,  I put these questions to our focus group: Do you game with family members and does your gaming cause friction in the family?

Rachel responded that for her household, the majority of their family members have no problem at all with video gaming, as most of them enjoy watching game play, however there is one cousin who feels that video games are evil. He considers Rachel and her husband to be losers and bad parents, especially as they permit their son to play and often play as a family. Megan also grew up in a family that has no problem with gaming. She stated that the only time there were problems was when she and her Dad stayed up too late playing. Allyson doesn’t game with family members other than her fiance’s younger brother, but her being a gamer doesn’t cause any problems with relatives.

While Chloe doesn’t have any close relatives who game, she does play with her boyfriend and his son. While she was still living at home, she would have disagreements with her Mom over gameplay, but these days the only conflicts are when there is a single copy of a game in the house and more than one person wants to play it. I can relate to that in a big way. We have been a two-360 house for about a year now, and sometimes problems arise when there is only one copy of a game. I finally went and got a second copy of Assassin’s Creed because I got tired of rescuing it from the Cavechild’s domain.

Being a night owl, Jenny tends to game late in the evening; her husband isn’t a gamer, but she’s still coaxed him into playing a few tunes on Guitar Hero. Her parents introduced her to gaming with the Atari 2600, so there wasn’t a problem in her house when she was growing up.  Lisa’s family doesn’t have any problems with the playing of video games, and they often compete in the LIPS karaoke game. She does say that her sister can get quite competitive, though. Jen games with her daughter, and the only conflict which arises within her family is that they think she spends too much money on her hobby.

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5th October 2009

The Other Side of the Coin Part One

The first installment of a multi-part editorial look at gaming.

The world of video gaming has seen a mass exodus over the past few years, leaving the darkened Canadabasements and exclusive realms of the geeks to become a primary form of personal entertainment around the globe and across generations. The industry has also seen a big shift in demographics, one which many of the big boys in the industry barely gave a second thought to just a few short years ago. What has caused this big change? The answer is simple – girls game too. Guys who game know this, and many developers know it, yet girl gamers remain somewhat of an anomaly in the industry, and while the majority of game developers have been focusing on the young adult male audience, the girls have been moving in on the flank and kicking boy butt.

Over the past year we have seen the game industry redefine the long-standing terms of casual and hardcore play. There has been a distinct blurring of the lines between these definitions, and it is no longer a stretch to say that even those who play games in the casual genre can be considered hardcore gamers. Personally, I think that if there must be definitions and lines, then it is far easier to label gamers as either casual or pro, because even those who play games which fall into the “Casual” genre can be considered hardcore.

GamerchiXSome will argue that putting this focus on girl – or women – gamers will do more harm than good. There have been many, many features written about female gamers in general, some arguing that clans and groups are purely in it for the attention and the money. Certainly there are some companies who may, to some extent, be considered to be exploiting the whole female gamer/sex sells marketing aspect with such groups as the Ubisoft sponsored American clan Frag Dolls.  Using female appeal to sell products is not a new concept, and it was well established long before the formation of Frag Dolls, The CaveGirls, Team Foxy, DSO, or even the PMS (Pandora’s Mighty Soldiers) clan. The point is not exploitation of females and their marketing value. The point is that we are gamers, and just like the males who are the primary target audience of many game developers, we spend our hard earned dollars on the games we like to play – and at least in my focus group, these don’t include Barbie Princess or Charm Girls.

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2nd September 2009

How to work with an Audio Provider 101

I speak to this from my own experience, and hope that it may be helpful to other audio designers and game aficionados all around.

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Audio is an integral part of a video game. In fact, even a simple score can create a very large impact. Take the classic: Space Invaders. The music is 4 tones, but is considered by many to have one of the most successful scores.

1978
Space Invaders
Midway imports Space Invaders from Taito. A great example of simple, effective sound design, Space Invaders owes a large part of its appeal to its menacing, paranoia-inducing soundtrack. Not music per se, the thumping audio track actually accelerates in tempo as the enemy invaders draw nearer (and move faster). The effect: sweat, panic, and increased blood pressure in a generation of gamers.
From “A History of Video Game Music” on http://www.gamespot.com/features/6092391/p-2.html
As the music speeds up, so too does the heart rate of the player; this is so much so, that if one plays Space Invaders with the TV on mute,  s/he will find the game to be much easier. (give it a try! PLAY HERE).
Clearly audio has a great role to play, even on the most basic levels. Audio plays a very visceral role in game immersion and great audio will enhance your game, bringing it to the next level.

So now that the WHY is covered, we will move on to the HOW.

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Using an in-house audio provider will surely create a tighter product as the audio designer is involved in and surrounded by all aspects of the game. Of course, budgets do not always allow for in-house audio, and so many game companies choose to farm out the audio to a wide slew of providers of which I am one.

From environmental sound design and SFX to custom compositions and interactive scores, there are many types of audio assets that will add to a game. What all these types of audio have in common is they are all best approached through the five guidelines below.

1) Bring the audio designer into the game development cycle early.

Audio is often thought of as something that can be dropped in last minute, and as an audio person myself, I can often tell this to be the case when playing the finalized game. If the audio provider was brought in early, s/he can give many creative ideas of how to use the audio in a game to not only react to the game, but even advance the story (such as interactive music that gives feedback to the player letting them know they are moving in the right direction). If the audio designer is made aware of the story and game mechanics nearer to the beginning of the production cycle, a more interactive, interesting, and polished sound track can be created.

2) Relate some examples of what you like via links/samples.

Producers, programmers, artists and audio designers are not always speaking the same “language.” If a producer is looking for a sound to be more “sad“, I can easily modify the sound to be so; yet, descriptions are not often that simple. The complications arise when words of more depth are thrown around, or

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24th August 2009

Mike’s Favourites

OrbyAldergrove – The cavechild has picked his Top Ten Favourite Xbox 360 games to play – to date – I’m sure this list will change as new titles are released. I would’ve liked to have seen more Canadian-made games in his Top Ten – there’s certainly more in my Top Ten Picks, but this isn’t about my list, it’s Mike’s Picks. To see and hear what he has to say, watch his video commentary:

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20th August 2009

Canada’s Video Game Industry Needs Copyright Law That Protects Digital Locks

esacToronto – Danielle Parr, Executive Director of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada has released this opinion article about the ongoing copyright battles currently taking place in Canada.

“The video-game industry is the fastest-growing sector of the entertainment industry in Canada, and one of the most vibrant, fastest-growing industries in the world. Canadian video-game companies are renowned for producing high-quality games, Danielle Parrand are behind some of the world’s most successful titles. In fact, 20 percent of the top-selling games in North America and Europe in 2008 were developed by Canadian video-game companies, many of them in B.C., and Canada recently overtook the United Kingdom to become the third most successful producer of video games in the world.

With increasing popularity, however, comes increasing instances of illicit activity, specifically piracy of video-game software and circumvention of digital locks (called technological protection measures or TPMs) that are built into consoles and handhelds that prevent illegally copied games from being played. According to industry research, some 34 percent of Canadian gamers have acquired pirated games (compared to only 17 percent in the United States), while 22 percent of gamers have modified their video-game consoles or handhelds to play pirated games. Furthermore, Internet piracy of video-game software in Canada has undergone explosive growth, and we detected a stunning 300 percent increase in the number of games illegally downloaded via Canadian ISPs between 2007 and 2008 (and this reflects but a fraction of the total illegal downloads in Canada detected by the industry as a whole).

Today, it costs between $10 and $30 million to develop a top-tier video game, and few games actually sell enough to achieve profitability. In light of the substantial investment required and the high degree of risk associated with the production of entertainment software, piracy fundamentally undermines the industry’s ability to recover its investment, resulting in fewer games as well as lost revenue and employment opportunities.

Particularly in this economic climate, where jobs are an especially precious commodity, it is critical that the government play its part in adequately protecting the Canadian video-game industry from piracy. Specifically, new copyright legislation must provide legal protection for TPMs, prohibit trafficking in “mod chips” and other circumvention devices and services specifically designed to facilitate piracy by defeating TPMs, and implement deterrent criminal and civil remedies against those who provide such services and tools—those who are profiting from piracy at the expense of legitimate businesses.

For the video-game industry, TPMs are not only used to prevent piracy and cheating (e.g. “modding” game code to give an unfair advantage over other players); they also enable access to a greater range of features and options that would otherwise be unavailable. Things like parental controls (which allow parents to control what games are played by their children and what kinds of content they are exposed to), “trial” or “demo” versions of games, and new digital distribution platforms like Valve’s Steam, Xbox Live Arcade, or the PlayStation Network, all provide greater choice and access for consumers.

Ultimately, implementing legal protections for TPMs will benefit consumers by providing greater certainty in the digital marketplace, which will, in turn, spur investment in the development of new digital products, services, and distribution methods; more consumer choice; and lower prices. Furthermore, legal protection for TPMs also enables a vibrant ecosystem of digital business models. If a creator or company chooses to sell their work as a digital product or service, legal protection for TPMs helps ensure that this choice is respected, much in the same way that locks on the doors of a bricks-and-mortar store allow the owners to determine when and how consumers can access their product. However, if they choose to give their work away and make money in some other manner (or not at all), they are free to do so.

By ensuring that consumers have a variety of digital offerings to choose from, legal protection for TPMs allows market forces to protect consumer interests, so if a consumer does not like the conditions of sale or terms of service for one digital product or service, they can simply take their business elsewhere. Failing to protect TPMs under the law effectively means that the government is dictating the business model, which is bad news for business and for consumers.

Canada urgently needs an updated copyright regime that protects our creators and rights holders, in recognition of the important role they play in the digital economy and in terms of Canada’s future prosperity. We have a lot to lose.”

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16th August 2009

Why You Should Jailbreak The iPhone

Please note that the opinions expressed in the following article are not necessarily those of this site, nor it’s owners and affiliates

iphone_3gs

Now, from the headline there, you are probably expecting me to go into some rant about how it should be okay to tamper with Apple’s software because you are paying for the phone anyway.  Nope, not gonna go there.  So what’s the point in starting with such a controversial topic?  Well, hopefully over the next few paragraphs, I can explain further.

Apple is claiming that jailbreaking an iPhone will allow the user unlimited uncontrolled access to the cell towers, essentially giving them the ability to make free phone calls.  Yes, this is somewhat true, but HIGHLY misconstrued.  With a jailbroken phone, you COULD make free phone calls, and this has some cell providers very nervous.  Google is working hard to bring their new service, Google Voice, to cell phones everywhere.  And why shouldn’t they?  It’s a great service that allows you to be reachable on a single phone number, no matter where in the World you might be.  It’s like Skype times 2.  Cell phone services like AT&T are worried about this, thinking that it will pull their customers away.  What AT&T are not realizing is that yes, while a user can have Google Voice for making phone calls, they are still going to require some sort of data service to make it usable in non-WiFi locations.  So yeah, WiFi seems to be everywhere these days.  Have you tried to actually connect to any available City-wide WiFi services and use a streaming service like Skype Voice?  You may as well be using 2 cans and some string… work out the math when you have a thousand or so people on wireless… you might rank just slightly better than dial-up… if you’re lucky.  Don’t worry yourselves AT&T, people are still going to need your service… though I’m starting to wonder why. Read the rest of this entry »

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