21st April 2011

New In The App Store

Here are some recent and new releases from a few of our fine Canadian studios:

skymodoSkyModo has released free and paid versions of Dog Pile on the iTunes App Store and Android Market. dog pileThe free version gives a bonus of 50 dog bones for the customization of your dog pack and comes with the Easter Pack that is also available in the full 99 cent version. The paid version of Dog Pile starts gamers off with a 250 dog bone bonus. Players can spend the dog bones in the store, purchasing items with which to dress up your Dog. I have not yet played this game, but it appears to use a combination of tilt physics, pachinko-styled levels and power-ups to match your Dog to the ones in the pile – in a match 3+ kind of way. Dog Pile is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later. I have downloaded the free version of Dog Pile, but it will not load on my 2nd gen iPod touch, so I’ll have to get Scott to try it on his iPhone.

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endloopChicken Balls (99 cents USD) by Endloop Systems has taken to the skies. You play as Crash, the bravest chicken this side of New Mexico. It’s the summer of 1947, you’ve just come back from chicken balls HDthe 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. At launch, Chicken Balls features 50 levels of physics puzzles, with more levels in coming updates. The game makes use of an innovative mix of slingshot physics destruction and pachinko/breakout styled play, with the Farmaggedon power-up achieved by collecting all of the eggs on each level. Crash can also harness the power of alien technology to make himself bigger, faster and stronger. Chicken Balls is OpenFeint and GameCentre enabled. Future updates will offer more levels, more power-ups and more unlockable animals. Chicken Balls is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.1 or later.

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Loud Crow InteractiveLoud Crow Interactive has a new children’s book out on the market. The studio has released its second Sandra Boynton book, Moo Baa La La La to the iTunes Store. This interactive version of Ms. Boynton’sMoo Baa La La La best selling book “will intrigue and amuse little kids and big people alike, and perhaps even elicit an appreciative snort from the occasional uninvited rhinoceros.”

Moo Baa La La La is narrated by Keith Boynton and includes Country Air, an original instrumental soundtrack composed by Michael Ford. Each of the illustrations, which have been redrawn and recoloured by Ms. Boynton allows young readers to interact with the animals through touch and sound. This young reader app also features “The Big Guy Reads It” with word highlighting to help improve reading skills or the “I want to read it myself” mode which allows children to hear individual words pronounced with the tap of a finger. Moo Baa La La La is $1.99 USD for the iPhone or iPod Touch version while the iPad version is $2.99 USD. Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later.

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Silicon Sisters InteractiveThe debut title from Silicon Sisters Interactive, School 26, is available now for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. School 26 takes a less-trodden path in game play and is aimed at the female tween school 26market, although some older gamers may find this title engaging as well. I do have a copy of the game and will be sharing my thoughts on this new title with you over the weekend.

School 26 follows the efforts of a female student named Kate, who, due to having nomadic parents, is now in her 26th school. Her parents have struck a deal with her, and if she can forge new and lasting friendships with people at the school, they won’t move. School 26 makes use of conversation, mini-games, puzzles and choosing the correct most appropriate emotional responses in advancing players through the game.

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The iPad version is $4.99 USD while the iPhone version is $2.99 USD. School 26 requires iOS 3.1.3 or later and does have a content warning with a 12+ age rating for:

  • Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes
  • Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content or Nudity
  • Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References

GamerizonGamerizon’s newest title is Chop Chop Rocket, a 99 cent (USD) game that features the adventures chop chop rocketof lost space explorer Alexis Rocket. This fast-paced one finger tilt and play game features 18 achievements to unlock with GameCentre and OpenFeint leaderboards on which to compete for space supremacy. Chop Chop Rocket is rated 9+ for Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later. This colourful, cartoon-styled game is the 8th title in Gamerizon’s Chop Chop franchise and requires some pretty fast reflexes to use the power-ups, change your speed and navigate through space to make it through the game.

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30th March 2011

No Excuse For Boredom

Open: Online Registration for SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver – Make It Home.
Reminder: Early Bird pricing for the Canada 3.0 Forum ends today.
Nominate: The Ingenious Awards Program celebrates and showcases the achievements of Canadian organizations that have accomplished significant business transformation or outcomes through the innovative use of ICT.
Develop: Flash in The Peg March 31st meeting looks at WordPress Design and Development with Dreamweaver
Luncheon Learning: CanWIT BC presents A Career in Project Management signature event, taking place in Vancouver on April 30th and featuring an expert panel of women in technology who will discuss their careers and experiences in Project Management.
Islanders: Next Viatec networking event is April 28th. Don’t forget to submit your VIATeC Award nominations!
Call For Speakers: Get your proposals in for the Montreal International Game Summit before April 11th.
Just Announced: Gamification workshop in Toronto on May 27th.

Silicon SistersVancouver studio Silicon Sisters has submitted its debut title, School 26, to the iTunes store for approval. Official launch is imminent. Designed for girls ages 12 to 16, School 26 is a unique casual game built around the complex social hierarchy of high school. Versions for iPad ($4.99) and iPhone or  iPod Touch ($2.99) are expected to arrive in the App Store in April, with PC, Mac and Android versions coming soon after.school 26

School 26 follows Kate, a student whose nomadic family has made it difficult for her to maintain long-term friendships. As she enrolls at her 26th new school, she and her parents strike a deal: if Kate makes good friends here, the family will stay put. Now the player must help Kate use intuition, empathy, and strategy to build friendships and navigate the moral dilemmas of high school. These dilemmas range from power struggles to peer pressure, from romance to betrayal, from alienation to acceptance — real and relevant situations teens face every day.

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School 26 is inspired by academic research that identifies social engineering as a prominent element in the lives of teenaged girls. In the game, Kate must get to know her new classmates’ personalities, resolve their issues, and strengthen her connections to them. These objectives are met through various types of gameplay including dialogues during which players pick up on social cues and select appropriate emotional responses, quizzes that provide insights into other characters’ (and the player’s) personalities, and a card matching game with shifting rules that reflect the evolving social dynamic among the School 26 crew.

While Silicon Sisters ultimately plans to develop games for all age ranges and demographics, the company decided to lead with School 26 after considering where they could make the biggest impact. “With the workplace shifting to knowledge-based industries and women leading in university enrollments and professional degrees, today’s teen girls are poised for better success than any other generation,” says Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch, Silicon Sisters’ CEO. “By highlighting and rewarding the social activities girls engage in every day, School 26 legitimizes ‘soft skills’ such as communication, empathy, and networking. Girls need to understand that these skills will give them a competitive advantage not only in high school, but also later in life.”

Slant Six GamesCapcom and Slant Six Games have released the debut trailer for Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. As I mentioned yesterday, this game is scheduled  for release in Winter 2011, and players can expect the return of familiar faces, including police rookie Leon S. Kennedy, iconic landmarks and classic enemies as the Umbrella Security Service battles to destroy all evidence of the deadly T-Virus.

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Coming to the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, Resident Evil™: Operation Raccoon City is expected to deliver 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.

Decapod StudiosDecapod has released another app to the WP7 Marketplace.  According to the information available for Emergency Alerts Free, it provides extended information and useful tips for survival in case of various natural and man-made disasters. Along with the provision of emergency phone number for various countries, this app allows you to tapp into the live feed of nationwide FEMA alerts. The Emergency Alerts app shows location, status, time of occurrence and detailed description of most calamities known to mankind.

radian6Probably the most tweeted-about news today is the acquisition of Radian6 by American-based SalesForce. SalesForce is an enterprise cloud computing company with offices around the globe – including a Canadian corporate presence in Toronto. The 5 year old Radian6, which is based in New Brunswick, is a leader in the social media monitoring platform. SalesForce will be assimilating the Radian6 for approximately $276 million in cash and $50 million in stock, net of cash acquired, with the expectation that the transaction will be completed during SalesForce’s fiscal second quarter ending July 31, 2011, and it is subject to customary closing conditions.

Earlier this month Radian6 had announced that it was releasing a new platform for SalesForce clients, connecting social capabilities within both the Salesforce Service Cloud and the Radian6 platform, enabling enhanced social customer service for SalesForce Clients. Apparently SalesForce liked it so much, they bought the company. Radian6 had also done a little acquiring of its own this month, welcoming the UK’s 6Consulting into the fold. The London company provided social media monitoring services to corporations in the UK, and had been a Radian6 platform reseller for the past two years.

summifyAnd as one startup is acquired, another makes its official launch. Vancouver’s Summify, a new company founded by former Google and Microsoft interns and backed by its first round of seed funding. Investors include Accel Partners, Rob Glaser (RealNetworks), Stewart Butterfield (Flickr, Tiny Speck), Steve Olechowski (Google, FeedBurner), and Canadian super angel Boris Wertz. Company founders Mircea Pa?oi and Cristian Strat have been programming together since high school in Romania. They built two successful services there, connecting programmers to competitions and jobs, and were pursued for full-time jobs by Google and Facebook. Opting for entrepreneurship, they relocated to Vancouver to start up Summify.

For connected people with hundreds of friends and followers, it’s impossible to keep up with relevant news, and what friends are saying, sharing and posting. Summify analyzes and filters your streams, so you can read less but get more out of it. Summify distills the social web, boiling down the torrent of daily information from Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader into a summary of the top five or ten most important and relevant stories that day. An easily consumable summary arrives in email or on the web, with mobile coming soon. Summify is based on a highly refined algorithm that analyzes, among other things, what people you interact with most, what stories your friends are sharing most, and global reaction in social media to important stories worldwide.

Best Buy CanadaTo celebrate the launch of the new Nintendo 3DS™, Best Buy Canada is offering hot deals to help Canadians get the most out of their portable 3D entertainment device. With 18 Nintendo 3DS game titles to choose from, a wide selection of accessories to protect your device and hot offers to trade in your old DS systems, Best Buy is making it easy for customers to maximize their Nintendo 3DS experience.

Best Buy is offering two trade in promotions with the Nintendo 3DS until March 31:

  • Trade in your Nintendo DS and save $50 off of your 3DS
  • Trade in your Nintendo DSi XL and save $100 off 3DS
  • Trade in three Nintendo DS games and receive a $10 credit

Until April 7, purchase any two Nintendo 3DS games from the selection of 18 game titles Best Buy is carrying and save $10.

getting-business-onlineGoogle wants Canadian businesses to get a web site – the upside is that it’s free – for one year. The downside is that they are not using Canadian web hosts or designers. For business owners who aren’t internet or design-capable, this is a good initiative on Google’s part. It’s also an easy way to serve ads, and to help businesses get started with Adwords, Google is also offering a Get Your Business Online badge, a listing and a $200.00 for an Adwords account. Google has been trying very hard to get Canadian businesses using Adwords – I’ve received at least a half dozen snail-mail gift cards from them – some of them with the right mailing address, but the names they were addressed to weren’t even close. Don’t know who Killian is, but apparently he works for us.

casaThe Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) has launched a new social media campaign aimed at making education and student voting a cornerstone of the 2011 federal election.

“Students live on social networks and media, and this campaign and website engages students and politicians online,” said Zach Dayler, National Director of CASA. “This might be the first ‘Twitter election’, which means that the conversation will be taking place on our doorsteps.”

The campaign features key information about parties’ post-secondary education policy, important voter information for students, a student blog. It will also feature a video vault, and throughout the campaign students and others will be asked to contribute their own videos on the importance of student and youth voting.

Kicking off the collection is a video from comedian and CBC Host Rick Mercer. “Rick Mercer’s message on student voting speaks directly to the important role that we can and should play during an election,” said Dayler. “It is ready-made viral, and we expect to see many more like it between now and May 2nd.”

CASA is calling on politicians to make a firm commitment to post-secondary education this campaign, calling on them to introduce policies that improve access to and enhance the quality of Canada’s university and college system. CASA has also invited all party leaders to help encourage youth participation by posting videos on education and join the online dialogue with students.

parta dialoguePARTA Dialogue Inc. has announced that its social media hubs, including ecomobility, energy 2.0 and alternativechannel have been white-listed by Facebook as video-serving sites that can embed their players directly into Facebook pages. This status places Parta’s web-video sites on par with recognized leaders such as Youtube, Dailymotion and Blip.tv, whose video players can also appear directly through Facebook. An expert in social media engagement, Parta’s strategies for generating online conversation involve the building of a central debate hub and active outreach and participation in the social networks where publics congregate. The company has already created and deployed DialogGeneratortm , a Facebook application which allows for two-way penetration between discussions happening on the social network and those on Parta’s proprietary sites.

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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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21st March 2011

Monday Madness Round Two

Big Sandwich GamesToday marks the first day that HOARD™ by Big Sandwich Games will be available for purchase on Steam this afternoon.  It will be listed for a “fire sale” discount of 25% off the normal retail mark of $9.99.  The presale period and discount lasts until the game releases for both PC and Mac on April 4th.

The Steam release finally brings this innovative dragon-themed game about hoarding treasure to millions oHoard-Screenshotf PC and Mac gamers.  All popular Steam features are employed, including over 100 achievements, leaderboards, multiplayer matching, friend invites, stats, and Steam cloud saving.  Steam Play is also supported, meaning users who own both a PC and Mac only need buy the game once.  Several new features are also making their appearance in the Steam version, including graphical boosts like Night mode and a crisp winter tileset.

“With the pre-sale on, you can pick up HOARD™ for a mere $7.50,” observes Tyler Sigman from Big Sandwich.  “That’s enormous value for a game that will give you dozens of hours of award-winning gameplay, single player challenges, multiplayer co-op and competitive, a whole bunch of levels, and best of all—lets you burn the crud out of everything that stands in your way.”

Hothead GamesJust ahead of release date, Hothead Games has released a Swarm Sensitivity Training Video. The studio’s message is “Don’t fear others just because they’re different.” In this informative video, learn the secrets of working together with swarmites, the adorable yet clueless stars of the hit new video game Swarm coming this week to the Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network. Note, in true Hothead Games fashion, this video does contain…questionable content. 😉

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AyogoAyogo’s latest Facebook title is live and doing quite well. Health Nutz, a wacky new comedy about a washed up hockey player who will inherit a Juice Bar on the condition that he gets and stays sober. The health nutzsix episode series has an extensive social media component that will run alongside the series to accompany the story arc via a Health Nutz Facebook game, Twitter, where several of the show’s characters will be tweeting throughout the run of the series, and on YouTube, where there will be eighteen webisodes, six episode teasers and all of the character clips.

The Health Nutz Facebook Game launched on March 8th, four weeks before the official TV launch on APTN on Tuesday, March 29th (the show launches on HD APTN on Tuesday March 22) and Ayogo will release a new game each week until the end of the show’s series run in May.

rocketfuel gamesRocketfuel Games has a new title on the App Store for iOS mobile devices. Seek Your Own Proof: Agent Arcade is a 4-in-1 game with more games on the way and is a title for kids of all ages. Discovery Kids and Rocketfuel invite you to become a member of the secret spy agency known as the C.I.E., entering a world full of puzzles, heroes, and villains as you Seek Your Own Proof!

The four in-app games available at launch are:seek your own proof

* Synapse Sequence – Try to stop the sinister sequence!
* Pyramid Explorer – Zip your way through the pyramid but watch out or you’ll get zapped!
* Catch the Keymaker – The Keymaker is in your sights. Don’t let him escape!
* Double Agent – Twice the Agents. Twice the Villains. You’ll be seeing double!

Players will be able to browse through their favorite Seek Your Own Proof Heroes and Villains in the Agents gallery, explore and learn more about the world of Seek Your Own Proof as well as obtain new and unique games in future updates

Interactive OntarioInteractive Ontario’s final iLunch of the season will feature Gamification thought leader, Gabe Zichermann, who will speak about how Gamification is transforming companies big and small, from media and advertising to travel and manufacturing. Leveraging the lessons of blockbuster social games like Farmville, and years of engagement developed in frequent flyer programs, Gamification’s proponents see a fun future in which users are engaged (and succeeding) in everything from doing their taxes to getting fit.

Gabe Zichermann, author of two books and chairman of the Gamification Summit, will share some of the most interesting insights about this trend and how you can capitalize on it for your business. A highly sought after public speaker for such events as Google Tech Talk, Web2.0, and Mobile Games Forum, Gabe will bring his expertise and experience to iLunch 9 on March 30th from 12-2pm.

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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).

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

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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9th March 2011

Three New Titles For iOS Devices

Event: canWIT Breakfast Series: Business Development and Sales in the Technology Industry March 23rd at Segal Graduate School of Business, SFU
Reminder: Register for the Great Canadian Appathon the event starts on Friday.

slick entertainmentVancouver’s Slick Entertainment has launched the next iteration of Scrap Metal™, this time to the iTunes App Store. Scrap Metal for iPad, iPad 2, iPhone and iPod Touch, is due for release on March 11th, 2011 for $2.99.

Drift around corners with guns blazing and take out legendary competitors in the fast-paced, top-down racer, Scrap Metal™! Fight your way through four different game modes filled with explosive, action-packed missions, and compete with your friends on the Game Center leaderboards. Amazing graphics combined with a completely new super intuitive input method makes this a game you can’t afford to miss!

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We will (hopefully) be taking it iOS version of Scrap Metal for a spin around the track this weekend to see how it translates to the small screen, if updates to Scott’s iPhone go well. The game is not compatible with 2nd generation iPod Touches, so I can’t play it, and Scott can’t risk updating his iPhone during the week, just in case the update doesn’t go well, and we all know that OS updates can sometimes go sideways. Scrap Metal does support the following hardware: all OpenGL ES2 devices: iPad, iPad2, iPhone (3GS and better), iPod 3rd gen. (32Mb or more) and iPod 4th generation. Retina display and Game Center supported.

Scrap Metal is also available on Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 points and is rated E10+ by the ESRB, with Mild Violence, Mild Suggestive Scenes, Alcohol and Tobacco Reference. There is a demo available for the 360, so if you haven’t yet, I recommend trying the game, it’s a load of fun to play.

Budge StudiosNickelodeon and Budge Studios present Dora’s Ballet Adventures, an Application based on the primetime musical special of the same name, premiering Monday, March 14, 8-8:30 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon.

Available on iTunes today, Dora’s Ballet Adventures will be available for the iPhone, iPod Touch ($1.99usd) and in HD for the iPad ($3.99usd). This App contains activities specifically designed for preschoolers including: helping Dora dance with simple finger swipes and gestures, matching animals while using the built in microphone to make animal sounds, and playing songs while learning about different musical instruments. In addition, the App also teaches reading and allows preschoolers to follow along with Dora’s voice, read by themselves, or have the story read to them, all while learning Spanish words and phrases. Dora Ballet Adventure

In the primetime special, “Dora’s Ballet Adventure,” Dora’s dance class is having a big show for all of their friends and family. Dora is opening the show and can’t wait for her family to see her dance! She just needs her dance slippers, but the delivery duck gives her scuba flippers instead. It’s a dance-filled adventure as Dora and Boots play “follow-the-bunny” to make their way through Bunny Hop Hill, dance in the animal hoedown across Benny’s barn and rush to the show aboard the dancing train.

In 2010, Dora the Explorer celebrated its 10th anniversary and remains one of the top preschool shows on television. Dora the Explorer, which can be seen in 151 markets and is translated into 30 languages, has been honored with awards including the Peabody, NAACP, Alma, Imagen, Latino Spirit, Gracie Allen, Parents’ Choice Award, the Television Critics Association Award and has received 16 Daytime Emmy nominations.

zincroeZincroe’s will be launching their latest app, a Stella and Sam adventure, in the iTunes store on March 10th. Into The Snow We Go revolves around a missing toboggan and young readers will have to help Stella and Sam solve a series of quests to find it. The activities featured in this tale include Pictures in the Snow, Snowman and Under the Snow.

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Based on the children’s books by Canadian author Marie-Louise Gay, The Stella and Sam Adventures for the iPad are a wonderful way for families with small children to enjoy and experience the same playful world of Stella and her little brother Sam as seen in the animated TV series.

Each adventure takes preschoolers on a quest and features:

* Four original animated story chapters
* Three open-ended, age-appropriate games
* Ten minutes of continuous storytelling
* Game replay
* Quick navigation by chapter and game

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3rd March 2011

Social Media and Geek Culture Inching Into Canadian Daily Life

Event: Early Registration for Canada 3.0 2011 has been extended until March 17th.
From GDC 2011: Congratulations to the Bioware Mass Effect 2 team for picking up the Best Writing award at the GDC Choice Awards and to the University of Montreal for winning at the IGF Awards with FRACT being named as the top Student Game.

Big Blue BubbleCatching up with Big Blue Bubble this morning, the studio has released Geeks Unleashed to the Mac App Store for $3.99 USD. This game is a strategic puzzle game that pits the player against some of the smartest, yet geekiest opponents on the planet. The storyline, which for some reason makes me think of Big Bang Theory, follows the player as they enter a geeks unleashedcollecting convention, attempting to accumulate collectibles from different categories such as Sci-Fi, Fashion, Comics, Plush Toys and Role Playing Games.

Another popular Big Blue Bubble game also made its debut on the Mac App Store this week. Home Sweet Home, available now for $4.99 USD, is a game that invites you to play Interior Designer. You choose the furniture, patterns, and colors to create a masterpiece that will blow your client away. You can email photos of your newly designed rooms to yourself or your friends, and you can also replay levels or your designs.  With simple controls, a fun graphical style, and an easy to use interface, Home Sweet Home allows you to nurture your creative side.

Government of CanadaCitizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney has launched a fun and educational Facebook application that tests your knowledge of Canada’s history, values, symbols and political institutions. The quiz can also be downloaded to mobile devices like iPhone, Blackberry and Android. TheMP Jason Kenney 20 questions are randomly selected from a bank of 122 questions, allowing the quiz to be played more than once.

“Download the app, take the quiz, and share it with your friends,” Kenney said. “You might be surprised to find out just how Canadian you are!”

The initiative is part of an on-line resource called “A Fun Path to Learning” that was launched in April 2010 by Citizenship and Immigration Canada for students and teachers. The educational tool draws from material in the popular new citizenship study guide Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship and aims to help students from grades five to 12 learn about Canada’s history and political institutions through games and activities. There are a number of learning resources on the Youth page, making learning about Canada’s history fun.

The “How Canadian Are You, Eh?” application is a cross platform application that can be found within Facebook, at the iTunes app store, in the Blackberry app world, and in the Android marketplace.

radian6Radian6 has announced Radian6 for Salesforce, bringing new social capabilities to the Salesforce Service Cloud experience. Monitoring the overwhelming volume of social conversations that matter to enterprises, and connecting them to existing sales, service and marketing processes is a major challenge for companies today. To address this challenge, the Radian6 integration will connect the social capabilities within both the Salesforce Service Cloud and the Radian6 platform, enabling enhanced social customer service.

The Radian6 platform monitors social media, including blogs, forums, comments, photo and video sharing sites, Twitter, public content within Facebook and more. Radian6 leads the industry with its ability to surface social metrics on everything it gathers, enabling valuable time savings through sorting and prioritization. With its pending arrival on the AppExchange, Radian6 for Salesforce will let agents work entirely within the Service Cloud, with fully automated case creation that adds social media content to Salesforce based on the customizable Radian6 workflow rules engine.

In addition to the recently added feature that allows users to interact with Salesforce Chatter directly within Radian6 Engagement Console™ additional capabilities that leverage the Service Cloud will include the ability to create new or view existing cases, leads and contacts from within the Radian6 Engagement Console™. Radian6 for Salesforce is currently scheduled to be available to early adopters in April 2011 while a full public release is currently scheduled for Q3 of calendar year 2011.

zipzoomzipzoom is a brand new patent-pending anonymous communication technology changing the way consumers and businesses find each other. The service was officially launched today in Simcoe County, choosing Barrie because it is one of the fastest growing cities in North America.

“A dynamic, friendly and booming community like Barrie is the perfect place to launch this revolutionary service,” said Reg DesRosiers, the founder of zipzoom.com. “We offer residents the ability to make quick, informed decisions about any products or services they need, while also providing new streams of customers to Barrie’s local businesses and salespeople.”

zipzoom.com recently launched a beta version of its site, which acts like a personal shopper for overwhelmed consumers. zipzoom.com-registered consumers just make an anonymous personal inquiry and zipzoom immediately, through its exclusive communication platform, sends the inquiry to all relevant contacts and businesses using a brilliantly designed product keyword search association, saving time, money and effort. Businesses and salespeople also benefit by having direct access to “ready-to-buy” customers 24/7 without increasing their advertising costs. zipzoom is free of charge to register for consumers, businesses, service providers and salespeople. zipzoom finally answers the question consumers ask themselves every day: “How can I find the best deal, person or business to work with?” On the vendor side: “How do I consistently find ‘ready-to-buy’ customers?”

In addition, zipzoom is offering weekly giveaways via their social media networks on Twitter and Facebook, where randomly chosen registered vendors will receive a no-charge lifetime membership subscription.

original joe'sStaying true to its friendly, down-to-earth and down the street philosophy, Original Joe’s has announced that, starting today, it will be providing a free pound of wings to each individual who ‘likes‘ them on Facebook.

“Each person who decides to participate by liking Original Joe’s on Facebook will be able to print off a coupon which they can redeem at any of our 37 locations for a pound of wings on us,” says Derek Doke, President of Original Joe’s. “We appreciate the support and loyalty of our existing customers and this is one way to express our gratitude to our regulars while encouraging newcomers to find out for themselves why so many people choose Joe’s as their preferred neighbourhood pub.”

Joe’s is expecting thousands of individuals to take advantage of this promotion, and are prepared to give away up to $100,000 worth of wings (estimated Canadian dollar amount based on 10,000 pounds of wings and gift cards). With more than a dozen wing flavours available ranging from dill pickle, Caribbean jerk and industrial strength, to the more traditional honey garlic or salt and pepper, Joe’s has something for everyone.

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13th January 2011

Good News From Indie Studios Beenox and Frima

frima studioFrima Studio has announced that its Facebook version of Pocket God has already reached the 100,000 monthly active users milestone.

Originally developed by Bolt Creative for the Apple iPhone™ and iPod® touch, the Facebook version of Pocket God is a brand new way to experience the colorful, death-inducing, all-powerful and hilarious universe of Pocket God, one of the most popular iOS games in history. With all-new socially integrated features, episodic updates and a host of hilarious ways to both dispose of and resurrect the immortal pygmies of each island, the Facebook iteration of Pocket God offers a fresh experience for both fans of the mobile versions as well as those looking for an omnipotent new twist in online social gaming.

Since moving into open beta on December 20, 2010, Pocket God Facebook users have had fun torturing the Pygmies in a variety of wacky ways that have entertained players since the title’s iOS debut:

* 85,000 players have created accounts and have sacrificed over 7.5 million pygmies, more than the entire population of Massachusetts!
* Nearly half (46%) of the Pocket God players are from the US
* Close to 300,000 Facebook friends have been sacrificed & 60,000 of those had their head eaten by a shark

Beenox StudiosActivision Publishing and Beenox announced today that the Quebec studio has been named the primary developer on upcoming Activision titles featuring Marvel™’s famous web-slinger, Spider-Man™. Beenox’s most recent breakout success was with Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, one of the most highly rated Spider-Man titles to date and Wizard Magazine’s 2010 Game of the Year. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions has also been nominated for awards at the Canadian Video Game Awards, which will take place in Vancouver this May.

“Beenox’s creative vision reinvigorated the Spider-Man gaming experience among critics and fans in Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions,” said Patrick Kelly, Senior Vice President, Activision Studios. “We can’t wait to see where this talented studio will take this franchise in the future.”Spiderman Shattered Dimension

“We are thrilled with this opportunity to continue our close, collaborative relationship with Activision, Marvel and everyone’s friendly, neighborhood hero, Spider-Man,” said Dee Brown, Studio Head, Beenox. “Being able to map out Spider-Man’s interactive future gives us the creative freedom to really craft the best gaming experience for the fans.”

“Beenox has done a tremendous job showcasing the essence of Spider-Man while pushing new creative boundaries with Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions,” said Todd Jefferson, Director of Games, Marvel Entertainment’s Global Digital Media Group. “We look forward to working with Beenox on creating new Spider-Man game experiences.”

homick labsHomick Labs preschooler app Noah’s Matching Ark is now available in the iTunes store for the iPhone, iPod noahs arkTouch and iPad. This free title is fun and educational, and geared towards children age 2 and up. Kids will love matching the tiles of the various themes and earning stickers to be placed in their sticker album. With pleasing graphics and fun music, this interactive application is sure to become a family favorite.

The Creative GroupSocial media isn’t just a trend taking the world by storm; it’s also the term advertising and marketing executives ranked as the most annoying industry buzzword in a survey by The Creative Group. Also high on the list: “synergy” and “ROI,” which rankled respondents in a similar survey conducted in 2006.

The Canadian study was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service providing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm and was based on 250 telephone interviews — approximately 200 with Canadian marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 50 with advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.  The advertising and marketing executives were asked, “In your opinion, what is the most annoying or overused buzzword in the creative/marketing industry today?”

The top-ranked responses include:

1. “Social media/social networking”
2. “Synergy”
3. “Innovative/innovation”
4. “Extra value/value added”
5. “Going green”
6. “Free”
7. “ROI/return on investment”
8. “Culture change”
9. “Think out of the box”
10. “Interactive”
11. “Proactive”
12. “Social media expert”
13. “Multitasking”
14. “End of the day”
15. “Integrated/Integration”

“Certain buzzwords may be commonly used amongst marketing and advertising professionals, but when overused, they can quickly lose impact and cause people to lose interest and tune out,” said Lara Dodo, regional vice president of The Creative Group in Canada. “In order to ensure your ideas are conveyed effectively, aim to keep your messages simple and direct.”

The Creative Group offers four tips for eliminating jargon in your communications:

1. Translate your thoughts. It’s typical to think in the lingo you use every day. But when putting your ideas to paper or in an e-mail, take the time to explain the concepts in terms that your audience will
easily understand.
2. Edit, edit, edit. Many buzzwords are unnecessary. Think carefully: Does a phrase like “at the end of the day” really add to what you’re trying to say? Probably not.
3. Break bad habits. We all rely on certain phrases when we speak. If the ones you gravitate toward are on the list of annoying buzzwords, think of alternatives that convey the same meaning.
4. Show instead of tell. Rather than relying on buzzwords, use concrete examples to convey your thoughts. For instance, instead of discussing your fully “integrated” marketing strategy for a product rollout,
describe the various elements and how they work together.

KMI CanadaBlake Melnick, Chief Knowledge Officer of The KM Group (TKMG), Graham Westwood, CEO of Procarta and Douglas Weidner, Chairman of The International Knowledge Management Institute, have announced the official launch of The Knowledge Management Institute of Canada (KMIC). The Institute will be headquartered in Toronto and will conduct industry level research and provide KM training, learning and professional certification programs, which address sector and Industry challenges related to:

* The aging of the Canadian workforce.
* The pending loss of critical knowledge through attrition.
* Managing knowledge necessary to improve operational effectiveness and efficiency and promote operational excellence.
* Improving organization performance and profitability.
* Creating competitive advantage through continuous improvement and the creation of new knowledge.

“The world has changed. Canada is experiencing a tipping point, where age old structures which previously shaped how we thought about work and learning are being transformed by information, communication technologies and the democratization of knowledge,” said Blake Melnick, KMIC’s Chief Knowledge Officer. “For Canadian companies to continue to prosper, and attract and retain key talent and expertise, they must embrace new ways of thinking, working and learning, which align with the realities of a global knowledge-based economy – this is where we believe the Knowledge Management Institute of Canada will have an exciting and challenging role to play.”

The Knowledge Management Institute of Canada will operate as an independently owned, licensed affiliate of the International Knowledge Management Institute of Washington D.C., working with industry, government, business, education and the not for profit sectors to develop certification, accreditation and professional development programs tailored to meet their evolving operational needs and the training and learning needs of their workforce.

KMIC programs will assist organizations manage change by training knowledge managers how to leverage critical knowledge assets, improve the transfer of explicit and tacit knowledge across the their organizations; capture and transfer critical knowledge and know how from retiring experts to new employees to effectively bridge the knowledge gap which exists between formal classroom training and learning and field experience. With a focus on key industry sectors where pending knowledge loss is most acute and where the acquisition of new knowledge is critical to maintaining a competitive advantage in a rapidly changing global marketplace, the Institute will serve as an incubator for emergent knowledge and information technologies and cultural practices designed to improve sector, industry and organization best practices.

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7th January 2011

New Adventures Await

Reminder: The deadline to pre-order Dragon Age 2 and get the free upgrade to the Signature Edition is January 11th.

Bioware CorpBioware has introduced another new companion character for Dragon Age 2. Enter Sebastian Vael, an archer of noble birth. Join the Exiled Prince in his quest to seek revenge for the brutal murder of his family and direct his righteous wrath on your enemies. Sebastian is a full companion character, complete with his own series of side missions. Gain the prince’s allegiance as part of The Exiled Prince downloadable pack included in the BioWare Signature Edition, or available separately for $7 or 560 Microsoft Points.

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Dragon Age 2 is a stand alone chapter in the Dragon Age franchise, and while it is not a pre-requisite to have played through the previous titles, players can import their Dragon Age files and impact how the story unfolds for them in this new chapter. Dragon Age 2 is rated M for Mature by the ESRB, and is scheduled for release to the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on March 8th.

psychicparrot gamesPsychicParrot Games has released a free iPad app for pre-schoolers. My Own Farm is an interactive educational title, as each tap on the screen generates animal movement accompanied with that animal’s My Own Farmsound, in turn helping young children learn about the sounds farm animals make while keeping them entertained.

PsychicParrot is also the developer of Farm Jump, an Open-Feint enabled iOS mobile game that features tilt and lean controls that enable you to capture some cows and jump on floating sheep, helping Farmer Will get his sheep back in their pens. The game also features donkeys, eggs bacon, plus the ability to dress Farmer Will in a variety of costumes.

Play by leaning the device left and right as Farmer Will bounces from sheep to sheep. Look out for roosters. Roosters will help him get higher with a boost. Cows are also Farmer Will’s friends, so grab them when you can.

citeremisQuebec’s Citérémis has released Aztaka Developer’s Edition, with the objective of bringing together the independent developers and the gaming community into our “Quest for profitability.” According to the original game’s description, “Aztaka is an indie throwback to the good old side-scrolling actionaztaka developers edition RPG genre. In this gorgeous hand-painted world, you play Huitzilo, heir of the Sun God, able to wield both the spear and the spell. The watchful Gods have returned to their slumber and the evil Ehecalk becoming ever stronger is plotting. A mad power struggle to hold the seven Ancient Phonograms will ensue. You are the last hope of your people! Race across your once great land, reunite the Phonograms and restore prosperity to the Aztec Empire!”

Aztaka Key Features

* Plunge into a new and fresh universe.
* Manipulate spiritual energy, through an innovative hybrid control scheme to solve puzzles and vanquish foes
* Enhance and customize your character by training skills and abilities, and acquiring ancient artifacts.
* Embark on optional side-quests to acquire valuable items and gold.
* Acquire potions, rings, piercings and skills to aid in your travels.
* Twenty-one unique and detailed levels with grand, richly-detailed backdrops and fluid character animations

Purchasers of this Developers’ Edition will be able to enjoy the latest Aztaka release, the Aztaka OST and the Exotic Your Shape AppFrench Art book, as well as the complete game source code – all for the low introductory price of $9.99, which is 50% off the regular price.

UbisoftIn celebration of the New Year and a “New You,” Ubisoft has released the Your Shape: Fitness Evolved App, which lets users view and manage their Your Shape profile and stats on-the-go, allowing them to quickly and easily track how many calories they’ve burned and monitor progress made towards their fitness or weight loss goals.

The Your Shape: Fitness Evolved App is a free app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Even if you don’t own the game, discover the breakthrough technology used by Your Shape, check out our videos and meet the game’s fitness experts.

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3rd January 2011

Check Out The Tiga Talk Speech Therapy Game for Kids

trainyardCongratulations to our Canadian representatives in the IGF Awards: Matt Rix’s Trainyard (which is an awesome puzzle game, by the way) received an honourable mention in the Best Mobile Game category, and to the team at Vblank Entertainment, whose Retro City Rampage received a finalist nod for Excellence In Audio, as well as an honourable mention for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

The brand new “Tiga Talk Speech Therapy Games” is now available in the iTunes store at the sale price of $1.99 USD. Developed with licensed speech and language pathologists, Tiga Talk Speech Therapy is a fun way for ctiga talk web sitehildren to develop speech sounds through playful voice-controlled games. These games are designed to improve and reward speech clarity, articulation, and instill confidence. The app is for parents and speech therapists working with toddlers and children with language delays, and features a host of benefits, building on enhanced language skills to assist children with better communication skills and confidence.

Tiga Talk Speech Therapy Games is a partner property to the APTN children’s show Tiga Talk, which premieres its new season on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) this January 6th, 2011. The premise of Tiga Talk is to entertains kids while teaching both Aboriginal and English language skills during the preschool years – an integral stage in development. By watching the series, children can learn how to make language sounds more easily, and have fun doing it! The addition of an interactive website and an iPhone application by Winnipeg’s Tactica Interactive, will provide even greater learning opportunities, offering games, crafts and videos that give children and their families the chance to explore and learn together

Digital Leisure Inc. has launched Word Searcher II on DSiWare for 500 Nintendo DSi Points. In this follow up to DSiWare word searcher 2hit Word Searcher you’ll need a sharp eye and a quick mind to complete these Digital Leisure100 themed word search puzzles in record time. Building on the success of Word Searcher 1, Word Searcher 2 contains even more fun words from multiple categories including palindromes, pirates and painting. The game is packed with a huge assortment of subjects to choose from, and there’s sure to be a puzzle that anyone will enjoy solving. Help improve your vocabulary, memory and problem-solving skills with these addicting puzzles. Keep track of your progress and try to beat your own play through times again and again as words are scrambled every time you play. Get your thinking cap on and conquer all 100 today!

yearonelabsYearOneLabs is hosting a Google hackathon on January 22, 2011. The hackathon will be hosted at co-working space RPM Montreal, with the event’s goal being the construction of new applications built atop the Google App Engine platform. Google Product Manager Sean Lynch will be attending the hackathon to offer guidance and information.

Tentative Event Schedule:

* 8am: Introductions and a presentation from the Google team
* 9am-5pm: Coding (in teams of two), with breakfast and lunch
* 5pm-7pm: Presentations with judging of the resulting apps
* 7pm-11pm: Party at RPM

There will be a Mobile App Showcase in Ottawa on Sunday, January 24th from 6-8pm at the Mercury Grove World Headquarters. Fill out the presentation application if you’d like to show off your latest app at the Mobile App Showcase.

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