29th March 2011

IGDA Vancouver Makes A Move Forward

Reminder: Early Bird Registration for Partnerships in Learning close on March 31st. Conference is being held at Dalhousie University this April 26th – 28th.

On Sale: Tickets for HackWaterloo, taking place on April 9th at the Post Rank office in Waterloo.

Panel Event: BCTIA TechForum Series presents Accelerator Programs…Do they really work? on April 19th at the Sutton Place Hotel, featuring speakers Jim Maynard, Wavefront President, Tim Jackson, Waterloo Accelerator Centre CEO, and Iain Klugman, Communitech Hub President and CEO.

Election 41: The Polaris Institute has re-launched TarNation, a popular political video game aimed at highlighting Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff’s unwillingness to take action on the environmentally destructive tar sands. Players spray oil at Conservative and Liberal party leaders to get them out of the tar sands.

Last evening the EA Canada Campus in Burnaby played host to the relaunch of IGDA Vancouver, with pizza supplied by Slant Six Games and beer provided by Granville Island Brewery. There was a pretty good turnout of people from IGDA Vancouver Relaunchthe local development community, which to me says that there is interest in breathing new life into our long-dormant local chapter. IGDA Executive Director Gordon Bellamy and IGDA Community Manager Ryan Arndt were on-hand to answer questions and bring everyone up to speed on what’s been going on with the global association, and it looks like there are some very good initiatives on the horizon.

Work Life Balance, Outsourcing and Collaboration were but some of the topics pursued throughout the course of the meeting, and I hope that as our local industry revamps itself and moves forward, the discussions will continue. As one who is unable to attend events such as GDC San Francisco or the Leadership Forum, due travel and ticket costs being rather prohibitive, I look forward to more localized and affordable events as outlined in Gordon’s preamble to the meeting. What stood out the most for me was the willingness of the IGDA to work with other groups and events, including the BC Interactive Task Force, Women In Games Vancouver, ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver, the Canadian Games Conference and Full Indie for the betterment of all aspects of the digital media industry – not just those who are artists and coders – because not all of us are talented enough to create outstanding artwork or code more than a Hello World function. I hope that the next iteration of DigiBC will also see the opportunity for collaboration, thereby adding even more strength to our local community.

For those unable to attend, Scott videotaped the information and open mic session that took place in the EA theatre, and we’ll be posting that to our YouTube channel as soon as he has a chance to process it. If you would like to find out more about our local IGDA chapter and (hopefully) get involved, please visit the IGDA Vancouver Facebook page and jump into the conversation. There are future events being planned, two of which will be hosted by Next Level Games and Radical Entertainment – I believe there was also mention of Relic Entertainment hosting an event as well.

Decapod StudiosVancouver’s Decapod Studios has updated its Slash Effect WP7 app, which is a news reader for  the Slash Dot website. The studio has also released Photo Search Free to the WP7 marketplace. With fully customizable search parametres, you will be able to search the internet from your phone to find anything from regular photos to clip art and design elements to new wallpaper backgrounds and even faces. Search results can be shared with your friends as well as saved to your phone’s Photo Library.

Bioware CorpThe final chapter of Mass Effect 2 has now landed on my Xbox 360 – and it can land on yours too, as it’s available in the XBL Marketplace today for 560 MS Points. The DLC is also available for PC (560 Bioware Points) and for the PS3 (approx. $9-10) and gives gamers the opportunity to earn three new achievements (or trophies, whichever applies to your chosen platform).  In this new game add-on, Commander Shepard is sent to the edge of the galaxy to rescue an undercover operative who may have evidence of an imminent Reaper invasion that has been looming since the very beginning of the series. Returning and playing a prominent role in Mass Effect: Arrival is fan favorite Admiral Hackett, who is voiced by legendary science-fiction actor Lance Henriksen of Alien and Terminator fame.

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So ends the current adventures of Commander Shepard. Now I can go back and try to earn 100% on the first two titles while awaiting news bits about Mass Effect 3, which Bioware will start releasing in the near future – perhaps in May.

Netflix Canada has begun offering three different viewing options to its Canadian subscribers, which is very timely for those who are concerned about User Based Billing and data transfer caps. Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer for Netflix, announced on the company’s blog today that the new options are designed to enable a 2/3 reduction in transfer usage. In short, these new options are:

  1. “Good” – The default setting with good picture quality and lowest data use per hour (about 0.3 GBytes/hour)
  2. “Better” – Better picture quality and medium data use per hour (about 0.7 GBytes/hour)
  3. “Best” – Best picture quality and highest date use per hour (generally about 1.0 GBytes/hour – or up to 2.3 GBytes/hour when streaming HD content)

Please visit the Netflix blog for complete details on how to manage your Netflix transfer usage.

dhx mediaDHX Media has signed a deal with Discovery Communication’s The Hub for the second season of its hit preschool series Animal Mechanicals. Originally commissioned by CBC in Canada, where it is one of the highest-rating preschool shows, Animal Mechanicals is produced and distributed by DHX Media. It airs around the globe on channels including the Disney Channels in the UK, Italy and Asia; Radio-Canada, Discovery Latin America, Beetle BuggyRomania’s HOP, EBS in Korea; Al-Jazeera Children Channel and Prava I Prevodi, which acquired the title for Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro.

Josh Scherba, SVP Distribution at DHX Media, said: “Animal Mechanicals has really engaged with young audiences on The Hub since its launch last Fall; success underscored by this commitment to the second season. We continue to build the licensing programme for the show including the launch of the Animal Mechanicals app which offers a new interactive element for children and their parents.”

DHX Media has also recently launched a new iOS app based on the show. Animal Mechanicals: Beetle Buggy Race, is priced at $1.99, and available on all iTunes stores worldwide. In licensing deals, Producciones Publiexpress have been signed up for colouring and activity books in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

D-BoxD-BOX Technologies Inc. has really been on the move this week (pun intended) – the company has just announced two more Motion Seating agreements with American movie theatres.  Emagine Entertainment will equip two screens at its new Royal Oak, Michigan theatre with a total of 29 D-BOX MFX Seats when the theatre opens in May. D-Box has also signed its first agreement with RC Theatres to equip two of that company’s Pennsylvania complexes. The Hanover Movies 16 will feature 18 D-Box MFX Seats and the Wilkes Barre Movies 14 will feature 22 D-Box MFX seats. These two RC locations will soon be the first in the state to feature the immersive motion technology that completely transforms the movie viewing experience with seats that move in perfect sync with the onscreen action.

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28th March 2011

T-Virus Outbreak Pinpointed Near Granville Island

CAPCOMCapcom® has offiically announced that Resident Evil®: Operation Raccoon City, is in development at Vancouver’s Slant Six Games for the PlayStation®3, Xbox 360® and PC with a scheduled Winter 2011 release. In addition it was also confirmed that the forthcoming Nintendo 3DS™ title, Slant Six GamesResident Evil®: The Mercenaries 3D,will ship with a playable demo of Resident Evil® Revelations.

Since the launch of the first title 15 years ago the Resident Evil® series has enjoyed phenomenal success, selling over 45 million units worldwide to date. This latest offering will take the series in a completely new direction and offer a style of gameplay yet to be seen from the franchise.

Resident Evil Outbreak Zone

Resident Evil Outbreak Zone

Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City delivers a true third person team based shooter experience set within the dark and sinister Resident Evil universe and a reinterpretation of the events depicted in Resident Evil® 2 and Resident Evil® 3. The setting of the Resident Evil universe not only provides a rich backdrop to the action but delivers a unique and thrilling triple threat battle. Zombies and Bio-Organic Weapons (B.O.W’s) add to the mix as players not only compete against an opposing squad but also tackle this third unpredictable element, creating a brand new style of gameplay and breaking the conventions of traditional team based shooters.

It is September 1998 and the action centers once more on the ill-fated Raccoon City and the horrific consequences of the deadly T-virus outbreak from the Umbrella facility. With a cover up required, Umbrella orders an elite team into Raccoon City to destroy all evidence of the outbreak and eliminate any survivors. Hearing of this plan, the US Government dispatches its own special forces to uncover any evidence that exposes the cause of the viral infection and Umbrella’s actions. Players take on the role of an Umbrella Security Services soldier (U.S.S.), competing alone or in four player co-op in a battle against all the competing forces at play in Raccoon City.

Expect the return of original Resident Evil enemies, iconic landmarks such as the Raccoon City Police Department and fan favorite characters, including Leon S. Kennedy, who as a rookie police officer in Raccoon City is on your hit list to eliminate. Players will experience a retelling of classic moments from past titles Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3 and watch the events unfolding from the menacing perspective of the Umbrella Security Service, giving fans the chance to rewrite the history of the Raccoon City outbreak. Read the rest of this entry »

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25th March 2011

Follow Friday For March 25th

Reminder to all Canadian IDM developers: Take the Pixel To Product Digital Economy Survey. It’s important, and it only takes a few minutes. Follow Pixel To Product on Twitter at 49Pixels

So we are starting our weekend with a non-confidence vote in Parliament, which means we technically have no government and are headed for a Federal election. This also means that all of the Federal parties will be stepping up their campaigns of nastiness. As I said on Twitter earlier – please, please, please stop with the finger pointing. Instead of telling us why every other party is evil, tell Canadians truthfully why your party is awesome, be prepared to back it up with quantifiable proof, and let’s move on. Enough with the playground bully tactics, okay?3DS boxshot Act like the intellectual adults you’re supposed to be and take the responsibility you are asking voters to give you more seriously.

The bonus is that it’s Friday, and that means tomorrow is Nintendo 3DS Launch event day, so if you’re in Toronto or Vancouver, you can get some hands-on time with the 3DS before the midnight sales events at Future Shop. Vancouver’s pre-launch event will be taking place from 6pm until midnight at TD Square (corner of Granville & Georgia streets) and then moving over to the Robson & Granville Future Shop for the midnight opening.

The Toronto pre-launch event will be taking place at Yonge-Dundas Square also from 6pm until midnight, with the midnight sales launch at the Future Shop located at 325 Yonge Street. In support of Earth Hour between 8:30pm-Chun-Li Martini9:30pm, Nintendo Canada will turn off the lights and not draw any electrical power at its dedicated event space. Follow Nintendo on Twitter.

Last evening was the second iteration of the Women In Games Vancouver Martini Night, and while there weren’t as many ladies as at the first event, there was still a good turnout and new connections were made amongst those who attended. Last evening’s Chun Li Martini, created by our awesome Rogue bartender, also appeared to be a big hit; I was driving, so didn’t try it. Martini Night, which for now is supposed to be a ladies only social event, is intended to give women who work in the creative industry a place to network and talk about issues in the industry that are important to them. We hope you will come out for the next Martini Night in April – details to be announced. Follow Women In Games Vancouver on Twitter.

Canadian Games ConferenceThe Canadian Games Conference organizers would like you all to know that tickets are now on sale for both the conference and the Canadian Video Game Awards, and they’ve announced the first round of confirmed speakers. Follow the Canadian Games Conference and Canadian Video Games on Twitter.

The Canadian Games Conference is a two-day conference/exhibition that brings together some of the industry’s top innovators, businesses and talent responsible for the explosive growth of the gaming industry, providing a platform to share knowledge and develop industry partnerships. The Conference, which takes place at the Vancouver Convention Centre on May 19th and 20th will be preceded by the Canadian Video Game awards on May 18th, at the Centre for Performing Arts. The Awards will be hosted by Electric Playground’s Victor Lucas and will featuring a live performance by Video Games Live.  As an added bonus, tickets start at just $30 for CGC pass holders, $37 for ESAC and CIAIC members, or $45 for the general public. Tickets for the Awards show can be purchased through Ticketmaster.  Public voting for Game of the Year will start April 15th on the CVA website. Follow Electric Playground, Victor Lucas and Video Games Live on Twitter

Announcing the first round of confirmed sessions:

  • Musing About Cloud – Denis Dyak, Silicon Knights
  • How FIFA Stumbled on a New Business Model – Paul Hossack, EA
  • How MMOs Really Work – Simon Ludgate, Soulrift and Craig Morrison, Funcom
  • On-Line Everywhere – Cyrus Greenall, Ubisoft Vancouver
  • The Design Evolution of HOARD – Tyler Sigman, Big Sandwich Games
  • Use Social Media Marketing to Grow Your Studio – Matt Tanner, Snowed in Studios
  • So You Want to be a Game Programmer? – Karl Schmidt, THQ
  • Microsoft KINECT Showcase
  • How to Self Fund Development – RBC and Export Development Canada
  • Cross Platform iOS Development – Wolfgang Hamann, Koolhaus Games
  • DO Sweat the Small Stuff – Kris Piotrowski, Capybara Games

Follow Export Development Canada, RBC, EA, Funcom, Ubisoft Vancouver, Big Sandwich Games, Snowed In Studios, THQ, and Capybara Games on Twitter.

Relic EntertainmentThe news that everyone (especially The Cavechild) has been waiting for and that you all probably already know is that THQ and Relic Entertainment announced late yesterday that Triple A title Space Marine finally has a release date – or, release month, anyway.  Set in the rich Warhammer 40,000 universe created by Games Workshop®, Space Marine is a single-player 3rd person campaign-styled action-shooter. This latest entry into the Warhammer 40 000 franchise will not only feature the brutal and feral Orks, but also the dark and sinister forces of Chaos.Space Marine

Space Marine puts players into the role of one of humanity’s elite soldiers, as they battle to protect an Imperial Forge World from a millions-strong Ork invasion. But this isn’t all that faces Captain Titus of the Ultramarines. When Titus makes planet-fall, he soon realizes that the forces of Chaos are lurking in the shadows pulling the strings for their own nefarious purposes.

The addition of Chaos forces adds more variety to the Space Marine single-player campaign by complementing the animalistic and horde-like Orks with a much more powerful and strategic enemy. While Titus can dispatch dozens of Orks alone, the Chaos Space Marines are more than capable of going toe-to-toe with him, especially with the support of Renegade Militia, Tainted Psykers and Bloodletter Daemons, among other units. Space Marine is rated M for Mature by the ESRB. Follow Relic and SpaceMarine on Twitter.

tiny hipposDev studio Tiny Hippos has been acquired by Research In Motion. A press release on the Tiny Hippo states that the studio is  “extremely excited about our future at RIM and continuing to grow and support Ripple. This is a great step towards our goal of providing a cross-platform mobile application development and testing tool to developers worldwide.  Specifically, we will be working to bring BlackBerry support to the Ripple product.

We also want to reassure all new and existing users that we expect that the Ripple product will continue to be offered for download and the team will continue to develop features, provide support, and help grow the mobile application developer community. We would like to extend a special thank you to all of you that have supported and believed in us.” Follow Tiny Hippos and RIM on Twitter.

Toon BoomToon Boom Animation Inc. has released the first of its first line up of fun mobile apps for the iOS App Store. Toon Boom has launched Flip Boom Lite for the iPhone and iPod, a fun app flipboom litethat lets your fingertips doodle, scribble or draw fun animations. Flip Boom Lite is already available for the iPad and has received rave reviews. Both apps are free in the App Store and let you discover the fun of animation creation. The company will be releasing more features for their apps in future updates.

“Toon Boom’s fun applications lend themselves perfectly for the iPod, iPhone and iPad. You can discover how easy creating animation can be while having coffee or waiting for a meeting,” said Joan Vogelesang, President and Chief Executive Officer of Toon Boom Animation. Follow Toon Boom on Twitter.

rock hippo productionsRock Hippo Productions Ltd is pleased to announce that after only two weeks in the open beta phase, the MicroVolts player population has soared and continues growing rapidly every day.  To celebrate its success, MicroVolts will host a number of events where players will have the opportunity to win fantastic prizes including an iPad 2.  The events start tomorrow March 26 and will continue through April 11!

To thank the active and growing community, MicroVolts will host the MicroVolts iPad 2 contest where they will be giving away two custom MicroVolts iPad 2’s.  Players who rack up 10 hours of play in one week will automatically be entered into the drawing.  The first event will take place between March 28 through April 4, and the second iPad 2 drawing for 10 hours of play will take place between April  4-11. Additionally, this weekend between March 26th and 27th, MicroVolts will give out 2,000 bonus experience points for everyone who plays at least three hours! microvolts

MicroVolts features fast paced, third person shooter action and pits players against each other in a secret battle that has been waged and going unnoticed right in our own backyard for years.  No one knows for sure when or where the first toy declared war but rumor has it that the uprising began with four original limited edition figures, code named MicroVolts. Battle lines were drawn when Naomi, Knox, Pandora, and C.H.I.P.-the prototypes a-were soon joined by an endless number of modified versions. Now, toy figures around the world are engaged in an all-out war for valuable battery resources and supremacy of the Micro World.  All we can do now is stay out of their way and wait for a champion to be declared!

With a ton of weapons, inventive character designs, and a huge list of customization features, MicroVolts is destined to invigorate and re-energize the Free2play space. Intuitive controls and a third person view make the game easy to play and fun for both newcomers and veterans of shooter games.  Game modes include Free for All, Team Deathmatch, Item Match, Capture the Battery, and many more featuring various maps designed by toy concept. Follow Microvolts on Twitter.

Family ChannelFamily Channel is giving viewers a sneak preview of Canadian live-action tween show Debra! on the evening of April 22nd. Produced by Cookie Jar Entertainment, Debra! follows Debra Delong, an effervescent teen with a unique style and outlook on the world who is determined to start her own business. Debra’s best friend Preston is sometimes reluctant to become embroiled in Debra’s ambitious schemes but always manages to stick by her side. Debra! was created by Andrew Nicolls and Darrel Vickers (Jimmy Neutron, Fairly OddParents, Back to the Barnyard) and marks Cookie Jar Entertainment’s first live-action series for Family Channel. Follow Family Channel on Twitter.

Absolute SoftwareAbsolute® Software Corporation has announced that the company will be presenting at the Government Security Conference & Expo (GovSec) on next-generation solutions for endpoint security and management of mobile devices in Washington, DC on March 31.

Geoff Glave, senior product manager at Absolute, will discuss the growing challenges facing IT in managing and securing the endpoint. He will focus on the need for a layered approach to security, which is now, more than ever, essential to an environment that consists of multiple devices across multiple platforms.

“The mobile landscape is changing dramatically for IT organizations and they need to be prepared more than ever to mitigate the risks posed by mobile data,” states Rob Chase, chief operating officer at Absolute Software. “Absolute is uniquely positioned with cross platform and device support, persistence, and emergency response services. Our solutions provide organizations with actionable intelligence to effectively secure and manage their endpoints and the valuable data on them.” Follow Absolute on Twitter.

teletoonThe season finale of the TELETOON original series Total Drama World Tour premieres on Sunday, April 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT and TELETOON is keeping everyone in suspense – even the contestants. This season’s winner will be decided by the fans through an online vote beginning Sunday, March 27, with the winning contestant revealed during the final episode on Sunday, April 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

Before the winner is revealed, TELETOON will pay tribute to the three remaining contestants, Alejandro, Cody and Heather, with special episodes in the weeks leading up to the finale. One tribute episode will air on each of the first three Sundays in April at 8 p.m. ET/PT taking a look back at each of the finalists’ journeys from the beginning of this season all the way to the finale. On Sunday, April 24, the finale will air as part of a special four-episode marathon beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET/PT with the three most recent episodes followed by the season finale at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

When viewers visit the Teletoon site to fill out their ballots for the winner beginning Sunday, March 27, they can also enter a contest for the chance to be animated into their very own Total Drama character and conduct an interview with animated host Chris MacLean.

Total Drama World Tour brings an international twist and musical spin to the popular Total Drama animated franchise. This season continued the series’ hilarious tradition of parodying reality shows by bringing back some of the fan-favourite past contestants and a few exciting new faces. The crew’s latest chance at fame and fortune saw them fly all over the world for a chance at another million-dollar grand prize while facing the kind of scary, embarrassing and even disgusting challenges that Total Drama fans have come to expect. Total Drama World Tour is created and produced by Toronto’s Fresh TV Inc. Follow Teletoon on Twitter.

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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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22nd March 2011

While Waiting For Swarm on XLBA

swarmiteI am waiting (somewhat) patiently for Hothead’s Swarm to appear on Xbox Live Arcade – even though I have roughly a dozen other games to play and comment on – but at least I could queue it to download, but alas, Swarm will not be on XBLA until sometime after midnight, I believe. It is, however, available now on PSN, for those of you with PlayStation 3 consoles.

Relic EntertainmentThis little tidbit from THQ and Relic Entertainment will make the Cavechild happy. Warhammer®40,000®: Dawn of War®II – Retribution™ will be receiving a free update for The Last Stand™ mode is scheduled to be available for free via a downloadable patch on 6th April. The Last Stand, the game’s co-operative survival mode, will be getting an additional twelve new Steam achievements. Unlocking each achievement will grant a new piece of wargear, giving the player even more options when equipping their hero.

Big Sandwich GamesBig Sandwich Games announced today that their award-winning strategy title HOARD™ is available for purchase in North America on the PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system. To celebrate, the publisher has also put the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system version on sale. Both versions are currently selling for the low price of $9.99, although the PlayStation®3 system discount is for a limited time only. The titles can be purchased via the PlayStation® Network. If you would prefer to pre-purchase Hoard through your Steam account, you can do that now, too. Steam offers versions for both Mac and PC, and remember, the Steam pre-purchase price is 25% off the regular price right now.animal pop

Big Blue BubbleFollowing the success of Burn the Rope, Big Blue Bubble is proud to announce their partnership with startup Krot and Enot and the arrival of their latest joint effort, Animal Pop!

It’s a bubble popping bonanza where you pop bubbles to save pets. Pop two or more bubbles of the same color to float all of the pets to the top and win. Watch for power-ups to pop those bubbles before your time runs out! Super easy controls and fantastic art combined with addictive gameplay make Animal Pop easy for anyone to pick-up and play!

Animal Pop features endless gameplay with simple pick up and play controls as well as piles of pets with power-ups galore. This looks like a very colourful and fun game – I’ll be taking a look at it later this afternoon.

Game Prototype ChallengeThe fourth iteration of Game Prototype Challenge has now concluded – well actually, it ended on March 21st, but I wanted to make sure that Jason had time to post all of the submitted prototypes to the Challenge’s web site. They’re up now, and you really should head on over and check out the thirteen “Burden and Sunshine” games. These games really do illustrate just how creative and imaginative our country’s game designers really are. You won’t be disappointed at all. I’m glad that winners don’t ever have to be chosen, because if I were a judge, I’d have a very difficult time of it.

If you’d like a chance to win a promo code for Good Guy Robots’ puzzle game Codex, check out the article over at Best WP7 Games to see how to enter their contest. They will be giving away 15 codes at the end of this week.

Banff World Media FestivalBanff World Media Festival has just announced its Media Leaders panel, which will be moderated by Gordon Pitts, Senior Reporter for The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business. These top executives will discuss the issues they find most pressing for today’s media ecosystem and field questions submitted online via Twitter and Facebook by BANFF delegates. Conference organizers will choose their favourite questions from among the submissions and present them to the panel at the Festival. This year’s panelist are:

Phil Lind, Vice Chairman for Rogers Communications
Paul Robertson, Group Vice President, Broadcasting & President for Shaw Media
Kevin Crull, Chief Operating Officer for CTVglobemedia
Kirstine Stewart, EVP English Services for CBC
John Riley, President for Astral Television Networks

Don’t forget about the Festival Meetups being held in Calgary (March 29), Edmonton (March 30) and Vancouver (March 31). We’ll be at the Vancouver meetup, hope to see you there. There is a Meetup in the works for Toronto, but a date has not yet been confirmed. Chaos Theory Remixed Vinyl

ubisoftUbiworkshop has released a vinyl edition of Chaos Theory Remixed, which will be sold exclusively on Ubiworkshop for $30.00. The album is a Ninja Tune remix of the original Splinter Cell Chaos Theory OST composed by Amon Tobin. Big Ninja Tune names participated the project: Kid Koala, Lorn, The Qemists, King Cannibal, Eskmo and Daedelus, with artwork by Ninja Tunes’ own DJ Food. Coincidentally, it’s also the soundtrack for Splinter Cell 3D releasing soon on the Nintendo 3DS.

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18th March 2011

No Friday Slowdown Here

IGDA Members: Today is the last day of voting for your Board Members. If you have not yet done so, please check your email for the Election Notification and voting link. We are very close to a quorum, please make sure you cast your vote before 11:59PM tonight. I’ve done my part and voted – now it’s your turn. Please pass along the word to other IGDA members, let’s get this election into the Tasks Successfully Done column. If you did not receive the email or are having problems please contact Ryan Arndt via email at ryan@igda.org right away.

siggraph 2011SIGGRAPH 2011 Tickets Now Available For Purchase. Early Bird pricing is in effect until June 17th. Member, non-member and student prices are available for all categories: full conference, full conference single day, basic conference, basic conference single day, computer animation festival. Please see the ticket information page for full details on categories and pricing.

SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver – Make It Home

Congratulations to onX Enterprise Solutions, who has received two Cisco Partner Summit regional awards for Canadian Managed Cloud Partner of the Year and Canadian Borderless Network Partner of the Year.onx

VIATeCDon’t forget that nominations are open for the 2011 VIATeC Awards. A little saddened that VIATeC is using the current tide of attention being paid to that recently fired TV personality as part of their promotional efforts, but here are the categories open to Vancouver Island technology companies:

  • Technology Company of the Year
  • Emerging Technology Company of the Year
  • Employer of the Year – can only be nominated by staff
  • Online Strategy of the Year
  • Environmental Excellence
  • Executive of the Year
  • Employee/Team of the Year
  • Innovative Excellence
  • Product of the Year
  • Member’s Choice for Service Provider of the Year – can only be nominated by a technology company.

The Awards ceremony will take place in Carson Hall at the Victoria Conference Centre on June 2nd. Tickets are $150.00 for VIATeC members and $200.00 for non-members.

Hothead GamesHere is the launch trailer for Hothead Games‘ latest entry into the digital download realm. Swarm is scheduled for release on PSN March 22nd (March 30th in Europe) and XBLA worldwide on March 23rd. This is definitely one game I’m looking forward to getting my hands on – I’ve been hoarding most of the MS Points I was given for Christmas just so I can see how many ways there are to squish and dismember these little blue guys.

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will already know that Swarm is an action-platformer that allows you take control of 50 utterly fearless Swarmites and drive them through an intense, entertaining and often suicidal battle of survival. Run, bash, huddle, boost, stack, jump, push and throw your way through gauntlets of death and destruction in an attempt to collect valuable DNA and ensure that at least one Swarmite survives.

behaviour gamesAtari has released the second developer diary from its upcoming XBLA, PSN and PC download top-down arcade shooter Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime, which was developed at Behaviour Interactive. Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime is out on XBLA and PC download on March 23rd and will launch on PSN on March 30th (even though the dev diary says it’s available now).

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Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime is a four player, ghost-busting adventure that will take players on 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.

The action-packed gameplay progresses as players complete jobs as fearless rookies who 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. Rookie Ghostbusters will face the dangers of the eerie world alone or with a ghostbusting team of friends both locally or online through the game’s multiplayer capability.

Big Blue BubbleBig Blue Bubble’s Burn The Rope is bigger and better than ever with a version for the iPad launching today! Now is the time to join in the flame-lighting fun with bigger graphics, brighter fire, and Wickman as you’ve never seen him before! Burn the Rope HD also features an innovative new touch control burn the rope hdscheme exclusive to the iPad that lets players rotate the puzzle onscreen.

Burn the Rope is a casual puzzle title that was originally released on the iPhone in December 2010. The goal of the game is to burn as much rope as possible on each level – which is not as easy as it may sound. The fire only burns upwards, so the player must rotate the rope to keep the flame going – once all the flames are out, it’s game over! With clever, hard to master puzzle designs for each level and some insects that add to the gameplay in unique and interesting ways, Burn the Rope been one of the hottest apps in the App Store for the past several months.

With 116 exciting levels (and more on the way), Burn the Rope is incredibly fun and addictive, and the new features in Burn the Rope HD for iPad let players experience the game in a whole new way

Additional HD Features Include:

• Apple Game Center support with 30 achievements and iTunes library support
• All-new Bug-Blasting Bonus Rounds!
• Lights Out! Mode – light the way as you burn!

Bioware CorpBioWare will be releasing Mass Effect: Arrival, the thrilling final mission for Mass Effect 2 on March 29th. This conclusion to Mass Effect 2 and preamble to Mass Effect 3, Arrival will also include three new achievements (or trophies) for the Xbox 360®, PC and PlayStation®3. The PDLC pack will be available for 560 MS Points on Xbox 360, $6.99USD on PlayStation Network and also available for PC for 560 BioWare Points.Mass Effect 2-Arrival

In Mass Effect: Arrival, Commander Shepard is sent to the edge of the galaxy to rescue an undercover operative who may have evidence of an imminent Reaper invasion that has been looming since the very beginning of the series. Returning and playing a prominent role in Mass Effect: Arrival is fan favorite Admiral Hackett, who is voiced by legendary science-fiction actor Lance Henriksen (Alien, Terminator).

“All year, we have been extremely honored and humbled by the reception we have received for Mass Effect 2 from players around the world, including our post release DLC”, said Casey Hudson, Executive Producer, Mass Effect series. “Mass Effect: Arrival is an exciting extension to Mass Effect 2 and will show players just how close the Reapers are to returning and completing their deadly harvest.”

TVOOnly two weeks after launching, TVO’s new applications for BlackBerry® smartphones for early learners and school aged-kids, have been downloaded from BlackBerry App World™ over 250,000 times.

Flower Frenzy and Polka Dot Shorts support learning objectives from the Ontario school curriculum and are teacher and classroom tested. Both are designed for BlackBerry smartphones running OS 5.0 and higher. Polka Dot Shorts is a sequence matching game for kids aged 2-5 that supports the early-learning and kindergarten math curriculum. Flower Frenzy is an entertaining and flower frenzyeducational game with three levels of progressive difficulty that uses pictures of flowers to help kids ages 6-11 learn to create sequences.

Both apps teach kids pre-cursors to patterning skills which help build the foundational knowledge required for mathematics in later years.  Each app also has a safety feature to prevent young users from making phone calls or sending emails.

“We’re really excited that so many kids are embracing TVO’s latest digital media offerings,” says CEO Lisa de Wilde. “There is a real need for digital content that will engage kids in learning that complements what happens in the classroom environment. We’re happy to help fill the gap.”

CRTCThe Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today simplified the process for Canadians who want to change providers for their television, home telephone, wireless or Internet services. Consumers will now be able to switch service providers with only one phone call. Once it has obtained the proper consent, the new provider will make all the arrangements on behalf of consumers to have the services transferred over. The CRTC requires that customer transfers be completed within two business days, except for wireless service where transfers must be completed within 2.5 hours.

“In a competitive marketplace, consumers are always encouraged to explore different options for their broadcasting and telecommunications services,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. “The new rules will make the transfer process a seamless and convenient experience, while enabling Canadians to benefit from receiving retention offers from their current providers.”

If they prefer, consumers can also cancel their services by contacting their service provider directly, which can make them offers to retain their business. The CRTC reminds consumers that, when switching to a new service provider, they are still responsible for any termination penalties or other terms associated with their existing contract. Additionally, the CRTC has established safeguards to prevent service providers from sharing confidential customer information with their internal sales and marketing groups during the transfer process.

Following today’s decision, the CRTC has also launched a new proceeding seeking views on whether these safeguards are still in the best interests of consumers and whether they limit a consumer’s ability to receive offers from a service provider. Interested parties may submit their comments by April 18, 2011. They may do so by completing the online form, by writing to the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N2, or by fax at 819-994-0218.

CanWITNominations are now open for the Sara Kirke Award for Woman Entrepreneurship, which is presented to the woman who has shown the most outstanding technological innovation and corporate leadership — leadership that has significantly expanded the frontiers of Canada’s advanced technology industry. The purpose of the Award is to celebrate innovation, entrepreneurship and create positive role models for women. The Sara Kirke Award for outstanding woman in technology innovation and corporate leadership for 2010 was awarded to Carol Leaman, CEO of PostRank Inc.

Sara Kirke is considered by many to be North America’s first entrepreneur. She arrived in Newfoundland in 1638 with her husband David Kirke, who was soon recalled to England. Sara, however, continued to reside in Avalon, and conducted business as usual from the Pool Plantation. Lady Kirke was a remarkable individual as she managed affairs at the Pool Plantation and became one of the most successful merchants on the English Shore — and was almost certainly North America’s first and foremost woman entrepreneur.

Submissions for the 2011 Sara Kirke Awards must be received at the CanWIT office by April 15, 2011, and all nominees must be a member of CanWIT, which is itself a Division of CATAAlliance. The 2011 winner will be announced at the 26th Annual Canadian Innovation and Leadership Awards Gala on May 18th, which are being held at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa.

BCIC New VenturesThe BCIC-New Ventures Competition: 2011 is now open for applications until April 18 at midnight, with the first seminar in the new nine seminar series taking place on April 4th. The competition dates and seminar schedule have been officially set and now it’s up to the competitors to invest $200 in their technology business idea and learn how to develop it into a profitable company.

As one of North America’s largest technology business idea competitions, BCIC-New Ventures attracts applicants from a wide range of industries including cleantech, media, Internet, information technology and life sciences. BCIC and the New Ventures BC Society invite BC entrepreneurs to submit their ideas to the 11th annual BCIC-New Ventures Competition offering the chance to win a share of the more than $360,000 in prizes.

Added to the mix of prizes to be won this year are the $15,000 Vancity Social Venture Prize and two prizes for Agricultural technologies, valued at $30,000 and $20,000. The competition has also launched a separate stream for Agritech competitors, with events starting March 30.

The competition is open to any BC person, resident or business with a technology-focused idea that has not yet secured significant financing from external investors (i.e. investors other than friends, family and company founders).

The series of nine business education seminars, open to both the public and competition applicants, will take place in Vancouver at the SFU Beedie School of Business beginning April 4, 2011. Students with valid ID can register to attend these seminars at no cost.

Register today to:

  • Learn from some of BC’s top business experts at our business-education seminars
  • Network with top professionals in business, law, finance, government and academia
  • Improve your business and strategies during each round of competition
  • Receive advice and insight from mentors In Round 3
  • Present your condensed business plan to a panel of ‘angel’ investors, venture capitalists and industry experts in Round 4

Now in its eleventh year, the main BCIC-New Ventures Competition attracts applicants from a wide range of industries. This year we’re launching a new stream of the competition focused on Agritech ventures in the categories of: primary production, food, and bioenergy/bioproducts (for or from agriculture).

This new program is funded through Growing Forward, a federal/provincial agreement between the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, to support agri-food technology innovation and commercialization.

There will be two specific prizes – a $30,000 first prize and $20,000 second prize for Innovation in Agricultural Technology – plus specific events for Agritech competitors who proceed through the four rounds of the business competition. Applicants who register will also be placed into the larger competition with the chance to compete for more than $300,000 in additional prizes.

AOL CanadaAOL Canada is proud to sponsor the Interactive Category of the 2011 National Advertising Awards (NAA) that celebrates and rewards outstanding Canadian advertising creativity, delivering fresh new ideas to Canada’s leading brands. In addition to the recognition they receive with the award, category winners will attend the 58th Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival June 19 to 25, 2011 in France.

“Sponsoring the interactive competition aligns with our commitment to high-value, premium quality and creativity online,” says Graham Moysey, AOL Canada General Manager, “At AOL, it’s all about creating a vastly improved online consumer experience – what better way than to get Canada’s best and brightest creatives engaged?”

AOL is also working with agencies that are submitting entries to consider using AOL’s award-winning HD content delivery platform, Pictela, now available in Canada. Pictela provides agencies with a broad and highly unique canvas for demonstrating their creativity.

In the Interactive Category, participants are challenged with a brief from Biotherm to recruit new users to their BioLab Skin Solutions. All category briefs were made available on March 2 and the deadline for creative submissions is March 31. Winners will be announced at the National Advertising Awards Gala on May 5 in Toronto.

“Participating in the National Advertising Awards Interactive Category is a fantastic opportunity to submit the challenge of taking our BioLab recruitment animation to the next level to the best Canadian creative minds,” said Bradley Smith, Biotherm Marketing Director. “I can’t wait to see how they’ll translate Biotherm’s biological expertise and its strong Canadian heritage into a complete interactive brand experience that will attract new consumers to the brand.”

“The National Advertising Awards are unique because they are North America’s only major brief-based competition,” says Cam Gardner, President, Adcam Media Group, Owner of The National Advertising Awards. “It’s always a thrill to see the results of unleashed creative thinking against the needs of major Canadian brands. We’re grateful for the support of sponsors like AOL Canada who help make the awards possible.”

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16th March 2011

Dragon Age Legends Officially Launched

Bioware CorpElectronic Arts Inc. has announced that Dragon Age™ Legends, the ground-breaking Play4Free online RPG is now available to all Facebook® users worldwide. Dragon Age Legends, a collaboration between BioWare™ and EA’s Play4Free studio EA2D, expands on the award-winning action RPG franchise and introduces deep, high-quality gaming to Facebook. Dragon Age Legends also ties directly into Dragon Age II, currently available in stores. Players who complete specific quests in Dragon Age Legends can earn up to five exclusive items for use in Dragon Age II.

We built Dragon Age Legends with one goal in mind: to bring the AAA quality gameplay BioWare is famous for to the social space,” said Mark Spenner, General Manager of EA2D. “Dragon Age Legends brings true RPG combat and style to this massive social platform and delivers it at BioWare blockbuster quality, raising the bar for social games.”

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Set in the Free Marches, the primary setting of Dragon Age II, Dragon Age Legends combines accessible and engaging turn-based tactical combat with gripping co-operative gameplay. By simply logging in Facebook, players can jump in to the online RPG to recruit their friends and embark on a battle-rich journey filled with challenging quests. Like all classic RPGs, players will earn loot and share rewards with their friends to grow their hero’s might and their kingdom’s power. The game includes a gratifying character-customization and upgrade system that allows players to tackle demons and darkspawn to become a legendary hero within the Dragon Age universe.

The exclusive quest offer expires March 31, 2012 and requires an internet connection, an EA account, access to Dragon Age Legends on Facebook, ownership of or access to Dragon Age II game for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or PC. You must be 13+ to play Dragon Age Legends, however Dragon Age 2 is rated M for Mature by the ESRB. This offer is valid everywhere Dragon Age II is sold, and the code may not be substituted, exchanged, sold or redeemed for cash or other goods or services. To access items in Dragon Age II, you must register on Dragon Age Legends using the same EA Account that you used to register your Dragon Age II game. Items are nontransferable and may not be combined with any other offer, gift card, rebate or discount coupon. Void where prohibited, taxed or restricted by law.

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15th March 2011

A Hive Of Activity In The Digital Media Sector

Homefront

Released: Homefront from THQ is in stores today. The PC version of this game was developed in Canada by Digital Extremes, a small detail glaringly overlooked in many of the press releases sent out by THQ, including today’s launch releases.

Meetup: Vancouver Social Games will be holding a Meetup on March 23rd at The Revel Room.

chicken balls HDReleased: Endloop Systems has launched their latest title on the iTunes App Store. Chicken Balls HD for the iPad is currently on sale, so take this opportunity to join the fray as the bravest chicken this side of New Mexico. It’s the summer of 1947, you’ve just come back from the Great War and had hoped to hang up your flight cap for good. When a UFO crash lands just outside the nearby town of Roswell you knew you’d have to take to the skies – one more time. Chicken Balls is a puzzle game that makes use of both slingshot and pachinko-styled physics to help you save the planet.

Updated: Shaw Media’s Video On Demand app for the iPhone and iPod Touch lets you search through new releases, Shaw Appcoming soon, comedies, dramas, thrillers, classics, TV series and more. Read a short description of your selection, hit order and turn on your TV to enjoy the show. New features in this update include:

• Let your friends know what you’re watching through Facebook, Twitter or Email.
• See which movies are Coming Soon to Shaw Video On Demand.
• Choose to be notified when selected Coming Soon movies are released (IOS 4.0+).
• User interface improvements to make finding content easier and faster.
• Auto-suggest in Search.
• View your order History.
• Indication of TV episodes that you’ve already watched.
• Foreign language filtering.
• Auto-loading of more items in lists.

Now if they could just add an “OMG I forgot to set the PVR” feature to this app…

Today’s trailer feature is for Prototype 2, currently in development at Vancouver’s Radical Entertainment.

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Nothing like a bird’s eye view of the big city.

Deloitte Technology Fast 500Apply Now: Could your Canadian tech company be one of the nation’s Fast 50? Here’s the application and here’s the categories:

  • Technology Fast 50TM ranking - Recognizing the 50 fastest growing tech companies with the highest percentage revenue growth over five years.
  • Companies-to-Watch award - Honouring younger, promising Canadian tech companies that are in business for less than 5 years.
  • Technology Green 15TM award - recognizes Canada’s leading GreenTech companies, including any technology that promotes a more efficient use and re-use of the earth’s resources in industrial production and consumption.
  • Technology Fast 50TM Leadership award - Their ability to create a distinct competitive advantage in a high-growth market allows them to dominate their sector and quickly join the ranks of other Canadian global leaders.  Chosen by Deloitte and its sponsors from the applicants to the Technology Fast 50TM ranking, these companies are the elite members of the Canadian technology industry

CBCApply Before May 20th: The CBC Prime Time Television Program is tailored to address the individual’s creative & craft needs as well as the industry’s ever changing marketplace & business practices. Our residents gain a solid understanding of the importance of collaborative work and how to successfully marry creative inspiration with industry savoir-faire.

The curriculum of the CBC Prime Time Television Program takes the following approaches:

* Training on an individual, discipline specific and story department level.
* Individual mentorship, constant self analysis and critical feedback are central to developing a writer’s creative & professional integrity
* Strong business/career management skills are critical to their success and our priority is to arm our writers with confidence in their skills, an expanded network of peers, strong TV spec scripts and a viable original series package to shop.

CeLEA - ACEeLThe Canadian eLearning Enterprise Alliance (CeLEA) has introduced the first survey in what the Alliance hopes will become a regular series of surveys of the elearning landscape in Canada. This initial survey is intended to gather general information from a broad cross section of industry participants. CeLEA is particularly interested in the commercial elearning sector and in future surveys we will address specific issues, challenges and opportunities within that part of the eLearning industry.

If you or your company falls within this demographic, the Alliance would greatly appreciate a few moments of your time to respond to the survey. Responses will be collected over the coming few weeks, after which the results will be analyzed and a summary presented through the CeLEA web site.

MIGSThe 8th edition of the Montreal International Game Summit (MIGS) will be held at the Hilton Bonaventure of Montreal this November 1st and 2nd. The MIGS team is seeking local and international game industry experts interested in presenting at MIGS and therefore contributing to the quality of the event. All session proposals must fall within one of the following five tracks: Arts & VFX, Business, Design, Production and Technology. Interested professionals can apply via the MIGS website before April 4th.

“Montreal Shines” is the new slogan for the 8th edition of the event. “This theme is full of meaning. It reminds people that Canada, thanks in part to Montreal, is now the third worldwide game development cluster. It also reflects the bubbling created by this gathering of industry professionals at MIGS, as well as its radiance on the global scene”, says Marie Claude Bernard, director of the event.

Last year, the MIGS welcomed more than 80 speakers from all over the world. “The 2010 edition was truly successful, thanks in great part to its substantial schedule. We’re aiming at no less than surpassing that success by offering an even richer one this year!”, proudly announces Ms Bernard.

CIRAEntries for the .CA Impact Awards are approaching the 500 mark. The Canadian Internet Registry Authority (CIRA) encourages other impactful websites to enter and compete for the chance of winning $5,000 and national recognition.

“The overwhelming number of entries has surpassed all of our expectations here at CIRA,” says CIRA’s president and CEO, Byron Holland. “This is proof that Canadians truly live in a society that values the importance of .CA websites.”

The .CA Impact Awards are designed to recognize youth, educators, not-for-profit organizations, small businesses, technology developers and web designers for their innovation, the quality of their work, and the impact of their .CA websites and applications.

There are only two weeks remaining to enter your website and have a chance at winning $5,000 and the recognition of being the most impactful .CA website in your category.

There are four broad categories for entries:

  • Small Business – celebrating a company whose website or application has helped a business contribute to its community, foster sales or create jobs.
  • eLearning – recognizing youth and educators who use their .CA website to share knowledge and promote education.
  • Not-for-Profit – distinguishing an NGO or association whose website or application is making a difference in the lives of members, donors, or the public.
  • Web Technology and Design – recognizing individuals and organizations for innovation and impact in enhancing the speed, reliability, practicality and/or security of the Internet for all users.

Entries for the awards will be received until 11:59 p.m. (PT) March 25, 2011. Judging takes place in April 2011 and the inaugural awards will be presented at the mesh Conference in Toronto on May 24, 2011, all expenses paid for the four winners.

Mood MediaMood Media Corporation has  entered the Chinese market as part of its long-term global growth strategy. China’s booming retail sector represents a major opportunity for Mood Media to further deploy its in-store media solutions in one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Lorne Abony, CEO and Chairman for Mood Media Corporation stated that “China presents a fantastic opportunity for our global expansion plans. While in-store media is mature and well understood in most territories around the world, it is still considered a new segment in China. This is changing quickly as Chinese retailers are starting to understand the substantial sales uplift a managed media service generates. We also know the timing is perfect for Mood Media to activate its expansion growth plan as aggressive measures are being undertaken by the Chinese government to enforce copyright protection and to legalize how media is reproduced and broadcast.”

Mood Media currently provides music services in China to Western brands such as Polo, Puma, Coach, Costa coffee and Hilton hotel group. The company is currently in discussions with many potential new Chinese partners. A key element of the initiative is to deepen its network of industry and government relationships that are required for navigating China’s complex regulatory environment.

Mood Media plans to become a key player in China’s vast and growing retail sector. In the first two months of this year China’s retail sales rose 15.8 percent year on year to 2.9018 trillion yuan (441.67 billion U.S. dollars), according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

destiny mediaThe US Court action between Vancouver’s Destiny Media Technologies, Inc. and Toronto’s Yangaroo has concluded. Yangaroo had filed a complaint for patent infringement against Destiny on May 5 2009, claiming that Destiny’s Play MPE® secure distribution system infringed on their US patent number 7,529,712, issued the same day.

On June 7, 2010, the Honorable William C. Griesbach ruled in Destiny’s favor, directing the Clerk to dismiss Yangaroo’s claim in its entirety. Yangaroo appealed this decision, and on March 10th, 2011 three circuit judges heard oral arguments in Washington DC and on March 14th, affirmed the original decision, dismissing the lawsuit in its entirety. Destiny Media noted that it will be filing a motion for costs.

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8th March 2011

Dragon Age 2 Launch Day

Bioware CorpDragon Age™ II is now available at retail stores in Canada for the PlayStation®3 , the Xbox 360®, the PC and Mac®. The game is rated ‘M’ for Mature by the ESRB. Featuring a gripping new storyline, stunning visuals and what PC Gamer magazine has proclaimed to be “the best RPG combat ever,” Dragon Age II has already been hailed as a success by critics around the world. The game has received a 94 percent from PC Gamer magazine (US and UK), a 9/10 from Official Xbox Magazine and a 9/10 from PlayStation: The Official Magazine, which also said, “Fueled by its brains, a likeable cast, and a sprawling storyline, Dragon Age II delivers.”

I got my first look at the game when the demo was made available on the Xbox Live Marketplace, and with so Dragon Age 2many features disabled, it was difficult to get a real opinion of the game, other than I found much of the text very hard to read on a 36″ CRT television. Our TV does have a flat screen, but the text doesn’t appear anywhere as clear as it does on an LCD flat screen, and this could end up being an issue for me. I just hope it’s not a game breaker for me, even though I have loads of unlockables and extra content because of pre-order and pre-launch activities. Our EB Games location was not open for the Midnight Launch, so I will wait patiently for the call that our Dragon Age 2 Signature Edition (x2 for 2 360s) order is ready to pick up.

“I am very proud of the bold, ambitious direction our team took with Dragon Age II, which I think is some of the best work yet from BioWare,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder and Group General Manager of BioWare and Senior Vice President of Electronic Arts. “The Dragon Age team built on their success with Dragon Age: Origins and also focused on innovation for our players, delivering better combat, creating an incredible new art style and introducing a dynamic storytelling technique to really raise the bar for both the franchise and the genre.”

Dragon Age II allows gamers to experience the rise to power of Hawke, a refugee who survives the destruction of his homeland, to become the Champion of Kirkwall. Hawke’s rise to power is shrouded in myth and rumor, with these mysteries being the driving force behind a story that spans an entire decade. Players will experience how the legend unfolds by gathering the deadliest of allies, making tough moral choices, and amassing fame and fortune as they seal their place in history and change the face of the Dragon Age universe forever.

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Also available today is “The Exiled Prince,” the first downloadable content pack for Dragon Age II. “The Exiled Prince” introduces the noble archer, Sebastian Vael, with players joining him in the middle of his quest to avenge the horrific murder of his family. Sworn to the priesthood as a boy, Sebastian is forced to re-enter the viper’s nest of princely politics when his family is brutally murdered, leaving him as the sole-surviving heir. Banding together with Sebastian and his unshakable loyalty and excellent aim, players will choose to either avenge Sebastian’s murdered family to reclaim his title or direct his holy vengeance on their own enemies in Kirkwall. In addition to this action-packed storyline, players will also be able to enlist Sebastian as a follower throughout a majority of Dragon Age II. “The Exiled Prince” will be available for purchase separately for $6.99 or 560 Microsoft Points. Note: if you pre-ordered early like we did, The Exiled Prince is included in the Signature Edition.

Razer also has a whole line-up of sweet looking Dragon Age 2 gear, and buying any of it will provide you with a code for The Ring of Whispers add-on.

Razer-DragonAge2

Not all of the items are available yet, according to the Razer store. I checked on the 360 controller, which will sell in the Razer store for $59.99, and it said “Currently Unavailable” as did the

Available for pre-order in the Razer store are:

* Dragon Age™ II Razer BlackWidow Ultimate keyboard: $139.99 USD (March 16th)
* Dragon Age™ II Razer Goliathus Speed Edition mouse mat: $24.99 USD (March 25th)
* Dragon Age™ II Razer Messenger Laptop Bag: $89.99 USD (March 21st)

Currently Unavailable:

* Dragon Age™ II Razer DeathAdder: $69.99 USD
* Dragon Age™ II Razer Onza Tournament Edition Professional Gaming Controller for Xbox 360®: $59.99 USD

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2nd March 2011

Not All Of The Action Is At GDC 2011

Note: The Toronto International Film Festival (September 8 – 18th) is now open for submissions.
Event: WaveGuide™ Technical Workshop: Samsung Bada Code Camp presented by WaveFront. This free seminar takes place tomorrow in Vancouver from 1:30pm – 8:00pm. Pre-registration is required.
Event: Global Insights Conference is taking place in Victoria on March 17th.
Event: The Basics of Intellectual Property is a free seminar on March 10th presented by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and hosted by nGen.

Decapod StudiosVancouver’s Decapod Studios, creators of one of my favourite XBLIG games, Murphid, has released iStopwatch for Windows Phone 7. The free app is a simple, fast and elegant stop istopwatchwatch. It features a stopwatch timer, split timer, lap timer and countdown. It supports logging unlimited split and lap times and shares results via email.

The studio has also submitted an update for its measurement units converter app, Convert Units PRO for Windows Phone 7. The update includes faster application loading and adds in-app feedback options. The update will be available for free for all existing users once it receives Microsoft certification.

Convert Units PRO features include:

• U.S., Imperial and metric units.
• Convert length, mass, area, volume and temperature with ease.
• More than 100 measurement units are supported.
• Rarely used and old units are available.
• High precision conversion.

industrial brothersIndustrial Brothers has released a new 99 cent USD game on the iTunes Store. 2Bit is a challenging 2Bit The Gridretro-inspired puzzle game that will challenge your nerves and co-ordination as you try to navigate through The Grid, a landscape full of dangers. Yes, that’s right, The Grid is rife with shooting turrets, trip wires, hydraulic plugs, screwblades and more dangerous too frightening to talk about. At launch, 2Bit offers 20 challenging levels contained within 2 Grid areas, each with 10 levels of puzzles to negotiate.

2Bit’s current features include:

• Select between 2D or 3D views
• Personal High Scores and Global Leaderboard and Online Registration
• Original retro-themed sound effects and music
• Additional Grids and Levels to be released over the next few weeks at no extra cost

The Cavechild has released his first non-narrated gameplay video for Dawn of War II: Retribution by Relic Entertainment. His army is the one decked out in patriotic red and white, in Last Stand on The Anvil of Khorne as the Space Marine Captain.

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Strangeloop has partnered with Exclusive Concepts, Inc. to offer its proprietary Site Optimizer service to Yahoo! store merchants worldwide. Yahoo! Merchant Solutions is Strangeloop Networksthe largest hosted platform for ecommerce stores, with more Internet Retailer® Top 500 retailers using Yahoo! than any other hosted solution. Exclusive Concepts, the leading resource for online stores seeking to convert online shoppers into loyal buyers, provides a breadth of marketing services – from advanced search engine marketing to conversion testing – to more than 800 merchants around the world. As an authorized Yahoo! partner, Exclusive Concepts will be the exclusive provider of Strangeloop’s website acceleration technology to this market.

The Strangeloop Site Optimizer, utilized by companies such as Petco, Travelocity, Visa, Sodexo, and O’Reilly Media, is the only automated web performance optimization solution that functions at the scale demanded by global ecommerce sites and enterprise applications. Through partners like Exclusive Concepts, Site Optimizer can be offered as a hosted service, making Strangeloop’s advanced optimization technology accessible to businesses of all sizes.

vaencoCalgary tech company Vaenco, Inc. has officially launched its interactive media platform called ZoweeTV. An end-to-end multi-screen media platform that delivers movies, TV shows, music, games and other interactive media to Internet-enabled devices including TVs, Blu-ray players, media extenders, set-top boxes and game consoles for both ‘over-the-top’ delivery as well as integrated solutions for service providers and operators.

Key features include a fully integrated cross-platform user interface that includes a media management system for consumers as well as social networking capabilities through ZoweeTV’s proprietary system-wide network. zoweetvZoweeTV was built for content owners by content owners, offering a fully customizable content management system enabling dynamic ‘self’ distribution with a turnkey content management dashboard including asset management, metadata integration, windows, pricing, territories and other key policies with detailed ‘back-end’ reporting.

According to recently released In-Stat research, Web-to-TV Video content revenue will grow by 750% to $17 billion by 2014. “We built ZoweeTV from the ground up, built for complete customization for any platform, any video format on any device, anywhere in the world — ZoweeTV will optimize content distribution opportunities for content owners and deliver a robust, quality user experience to the end user” said Ronald Domes, CEO.

ZoweeTV will be widely available to consumers Worldwide by Summer 2011 through strategic partnerships with device manufacturers as an operating system or through stand-alone apps and web browsers. More announcements will be made in the upcoming weeks.

Government of CanadaFour initiatives that support northern innovation and knowledge will move forward thanks to investments by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor). The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, has announced an investment of $426,000 for research and training projects to help the Northwest Territories and Nunavut strengthen information technology (IT), energy, and educational sectors of the economy. With additional contributions from project proponents and the Territorial governments, the projects have a total value of more than $500,000.

“The Government of Canada recognizes that by investing in research and training, we are enabling the long-term sustainability of communities and businesses across the North,” said Minister Duncan, who is also Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians.

“Research has shown that there is a strong positive correlation between investments in IT infrastructure, capacity development and economic growth,” said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Member of Parliament for Nunavut, Regional Minister for the North and Minister of Health. “These investments will create new educational, social and business opportunities in both territories that will provide long-term benefits for northerners and northern businesses.”

CanNor’s funding will support four projects in the NWT and Nunavut, including new mining and remediation training programs, research into the potential to use local willow as biomass fuel, and two projects to assess and support the potential for establishing broadband internet in Nunavut.

Funding for these projects came from CanNor’s Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development (SINED) program, which provides funding for northern projects that contribute to long-term economic growth, economic diversification, and capacity building in the three territories. SINED is one of a number of economic development programs delivered by CanNor in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

RCMPOn this past Sunday, February 27th, members of the London RCMP Detachment Federal Enforcement Section seized thousands of pirated DVDs from a booth at the Gibraltar Trade Centre on Dundas Street East in London.

Pirated DVDs in flimsy plastic sleeves were openly displayed for sale at space rented by the accused at the Gibraltar Trade Centre, where it is alleged they sold the pirated movies. The accused were found in possession of approximately 4000 movies for sale including recently released DVD movies, movies still in the theaters and others yet to be released. Titles included: The King’s Speech, The Fighter, Black Swan, True Grit, and Inception amongst many others.

“This isn’t a victimless crime,” stated Inspector Dwight Blok, Officer in charge of the RCMP London Detachment. “We are committed in our efforts to combat this type of criminal activity.”

The accused, a 25 year old man and a 24 year old woman from Toronto, face charges under the Copyright Act for allegedly offering for sale an infringing copy of work where copyright subsists. If convicted the accused could faces fines not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or both.

bits republicBits Republic Technologies, Inc., a Vancouver-based developer of cloud security applications and licensed technologies, has unveiled the new name for its popular ultra-secure Document Management System. The application formerly known as MOnet has been renamed PrivyDocs in order to better reflect the complete privacy that this application provides.

PrivyDocs is entirely browser-based. Unlike past versions, PrivyDocs requires no software installation and can be run on Mac or PC through most major browsers. This represents a major unique advance in cloud computing in that security and privacy are so complete that neither the application host nor storage hosts have access to stored data, yet control by the user extends to file sharing with other parties replete with advanced file and folder permissions.

“PrivyDocs is designed to replace a key part of in-house systems; that part that deals with guarded data dissemination both within and outside the organization.” explained Charles Chung, owner and founder of Bits Republic Technologies, Inc. “In the past, placing such data online and managing it `through the cloud` has necessitated complete trust in the application provider – they can see your data. With our solution, professionals and enterprises retain control of their sensitive data and the providers have no access to it. Our solution enables the users to control advanced permissions by file, to track file access and versions, and even to customize the look and feel of the application for their particular needs”.

PrivyDocs uses the patent-pending Bits republic security engine which provides a very flexible platform for client-side encryption and server side ‘blind’ hosting and management. This technology assures that only authorized users are able to access secured data and metadata, and that not even the application or storage hosts have access to it themselves.

dhx mediaDHX Media Ltd has been authorized to purchase at market price up to 3,629,576 common shares of the Company being approximately 10% of its public float of 36,295,762 common shares as of February 28, 2011, and representing approximately 5.9% of its issued share capital, by way of a normal course issuer bid (the “Bid”) through the facilities of the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). As of February 28, 2011, there were 61,617,565 common shares issued and outstanding. DHX is making the bid to reduce the number of outstanding shares in the corporation and to improve earnings per share. The Bid will commence on March 4, 2011, and end no later than March 3, 2012, observing the purchasing restrictions during ‘black out’ or ‘close’ periods.
Kid vs Kat
The Company intends to implement an automatic share purchase plan to allow it to purchase shares under the Bid while in such ‘black out’ or ‘close’ periods. The Bid will be funded from the Company’s existing cash resources. Any shares purchased under the Bid will be cancelled. The TSX rules permit DHX to purchase daily, through TSX facilities, a maximum of approximately 26,467 common shares under the Bid, being 25% of the average daily trading volume of 105,870 over the last six months.

In the opinion of the Company’s board of directors and senior management, DHX shares may occasionally trade in a price range which does not adequately reflect the value of underlying assets based on the Company’s business and financial position. Consequently, the Company may, from time to time, purchase common shares of the Company under the Bid. DHX has not purchased any shares of the Company pursuant to a normal course issuer bid during the preceding 12 months.

veerCalgary-based Veer, a provider of affordable visual elements that makes it easier to be creative, today announced the launch of an exclusive new font collection named Agency 26, as well as the addition of fonts from the Filmotype foundry and several other leading designers.

The new Agency 26 collection has 10 new typeface families and 23 fonts, all of which are Veer Exclusives.  The collection is inspired by the bold wood typefaces of 19th century America, and takes a modern slant on the traditional representations of these historical fonts with the addition of features like a full Western European character set, alternate widths, lowercase and other features not found in their historical counterparts.

All Agency 26 fonts are designed by Brian Jaramillo, who has been designing typefaces for more than 10 years, but typically kept them for his own custom projects. He is inspired by the graphic language of the surf and skate industries, and a childhood of drawing band logos on notebooks. Brian’s previous font designs for VersusTwin Foundry can be found in Veer’s Umbrella™ Collection. Brian is also the force behind the blog Lettercult, a showcase of hand lettering arts.  The Veer creative team has produced an animated short to help show off Agency 26.

Veer also welcomes Filmotype, a foundry that brings 16 new fonts evoking classic American lettering of the 1950s and 60s. At the historical crossroads between lead type and the computer revolution, the original Filmotype library grew to encompass several hundred fonts available to designers, providing typeface designs on 2-inch filmstrips. Filmotype initially manufactured a manual phototype machine enabling headline and display typesetting using a photochemical development process, helping to revolutionize the process of advertising layout and lettering.

In 2006, Stuart Sandler and Font Diner revived the Filmotype marque, intending to create high-quality digitizations of this historic collection, adapted for the modern age. A gallery of Filmotype fonts on Veer.com reveals that they have a retro vibe and contain lots of brush scripts and condensed gothic sans, particularly Filmotype Zanzibar and Filmotype Macbeth. The original designs have been brought up to date with the inclusion of a full international character compliment, automatic fractions, ordinals, and a set of automatic alternate contextual characters and ligatures.

“Agency 26 is a fun, playful font collection that evokes the days of wood type broadsides and wanted posters,” says Joe Newton, Product Manager, Type for Veer. “The fonts include playful details like alternate widths, lowercase and ornaments that are perfect for evoking the worn, weather look of vintage leatherpress, or for lending rustic charm to food packaging and signage.”

Other new additions to the Veer font collection include:

•   Steinweiss Script – Known as the father of the album cover, Alex Steinweiss’ distinctive “scrawl” has been faithfully recreated by Michael Doret in homage to the original. Available in three weights, each including a number of variations including simple, fancy and tilting. Steinweiss Script is part of the Umbrella Collection.
•   Yana – Designer Laura Worthingon set out to create a versatile, swashy serif usable in logos, headlines and body copy. Along the way it gained an old-style Victorian aesthetic, upper and lowercase characters, over 200 swash capitals, and regular, bold and italic variants. Yana is part of the Umbrella Collection.
•   Torino Pro – Originally designed in 1908 by Alessandro Butti, Torino is a modern italic Didone that has been revived, redrawn and expanded by Jason Walcott. It contains a large number of elegant swashes, discretionary ligatures and lining figures. Torino Pro is a Veer Exclusive and part of the Jukebox Collection.
•   Hiatus – This is a contemporary script that blends casual and formal elements with the warmth of hand lettering. Stephen Rapp’s low body height and full connection of the characters make for a versatile script. Hiatus, which includes a large number of swash alternates and ornaments, as well as extensive international language support, is a Veer Exclusive from the Umbrella Collection.

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