19th April 2010

Busy Business People and Earth Day Happenings

CATA-WITJoin the CATA WIT BC Breakfast club in Vancouver for a session about building your personal brand in an online world. To be held at the Segal Graduate School of Business on May 5th, Jennifer Barron from High Road Communications will discuss the ins and outs of using social media-including best practices as well as pitfalls to avoid-as a way to build a personal brand that best promotes you. Tickets for this event are $15.00 and include a continental breakfast.

Province of BCI’m sure that many of you App developers out there are already aware of this, but the Province of BC is holding a contest challenging software developers to create web and mobile applications that build awareness and inspire action to reduce carbon pollution, announced Minister of State for Climate Action John Yap.

“Bringing together British Columbia’s data resources and the creativity of the software community opens up the potential for people to see climate change in entirely new ways,” said Yap. “The great prizes and support of our sponsors will give us web and mobiles apps that educate people about climate change and help motivate them to reduce their own carbon footprint.”

The launch of the “Apps4Climate Action” contest coincides with the creation of the Climate Change Data Catalogue, a data warehouse populated with provincial climate change data. The catalogue will house climate change data sources in a centralized location, giving software developers a one-stop access point to over 500 data sets and supporting documents to brainstorm, design and populate their applications.

“This is a terrific opportunity for us to take a new approach and use new technologies to engage citizens and help increase British Columbians’ awareness about climate change,” said Citizens’ Services Minister Ben Stewart.

The contest has more than $40,000 in cash and prizes spread across five categories: best mobile app, best web app, people’s choice, best of B.C. and overall best app. The submission deadline for the “Apps4Climate Action” contest is July 15, 2010, and the public is encouraged to register to vote for the People’s Choice award for their favourite app until Aug. 20, 2010. Contest winners will be announced mid-September 2010.

“SAP is proud to be a gold sponsor of the Apps4Climate action contest,” said Kirsten Sutton, managing director of SAP Labs Vancouver. “We believe we have a dual role with sustainability, as exemplar and as enabler. Internally, we have set our own aggressive goals to reduce SAP’s carbon footprint, and we also believe that our solutions can help identify real opportunities for positive climate action.”

Contest sponsors include: Microsoft Canada Inc, SAP Canada Inc., Analytic Design Group, David Eaves Inc., Netscribe Communications, TELUS Corporation, Harbour Air Ltd. and Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.

“At Microsoft we’re committed to developing technology that helps consumers and businesses reduce their environmental footprints,” said Barb Berg, director of the western public sector of Microsoft Canada Inc. “We are delighted to participate in the B.C. government Apps4Climate action contest, a very innovative contest to help encourage developers to create new green software applications and solutions for B.C. citizens.”

Ben & Jerry's Ice CreamFor a contest of a different flavour, Ben & Jerry’s is holding a Canada-only competition to name their newest offering. A combination of vanilla ice cream, fudge covered waffle cone pieces and a fudge swirl, the flavour has been temporarily named We are Waffling, until Canadians share the humour and wit they’re known for.

“We are excited to see some amazing suggestions,” says Shoshana Price, Ben & Jerry’s Brand Manager. “We want to empower our fans and give them the opportunity to show their creativity and wit, as well as their good taste.”We Are Waffling

Starting April 19th, Canadians can serve up their own name on a virtual pint on the “Ben & Jerry’s Canada” Fan Page. Ben & Jerry’s fans can view and vote on their favourites at a gallery of pre-selected pints on the “Ben & Jerry’s Canada” Fan Page between July 2nd to July 16th, 2010. The winner, to be announced in late July, will win a year’s supply of the soon to be re-named We are Waffling ice cream, enjoy the thrill of seeing their name on pints of Ben & Jerry’s across Canada and earn eternal bragging rights among friends and acquaintances.

Ben & Jerry’s We are Waffling in most grocery, drug and convenience stores across the country now. The winning name will start replacing We are Waffling on Ben & Jerry’s pints in the Fall of 2010. Plus, in order to ensure that Canadians have an opportunity to taste We are Waffling and make an informed name nomination, Ben & Jerry’s teams will be sampling the flavour in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal throughout the month of May.

Club PenguinKelownaClub Penguin and its millions of animated penguin inhabitants are going green. On April 22, 2010, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the popular children’s virtual world will launch a special online party and new ways for its players to exercise their passion for making the world a better place. Read the rest of this entry »

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16th April 2010

Spies Freelancers Awards and Great Canadian Events

Do you want to learn more about Deep Packet Inspection in Canada and who is using it? Deep Packet Inspection Canada is a website which is meant to be the largest repository of publicly accessible information concerning the use of deep packet inspection in Canada, so that Canadians gain insight into how the technology is used by Canadian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and why they are using the technology. I recommend this site if you want to learn more about service throttling and the hot issues being discussed around it.

Breaking Into Freelance IllustrationLate last year, I was a participant in a conversation with game design students regarding freelance work. I came across a book today in my morning email travels which, while I haven’t read it (but I probably will), was written by Canadian freelance illustrator and author Holly DeWolf. While many students are lucky and easily find work at established studios, it has been a topic of conversation about how schools don’t really prepare their graduates for the freelance world.

Holly agrees with this line of thought, stating that “many institutions are not preparing students for the realities of the work world. It’s important for freelance creative types to see themselves as a business in order to make it. There is a real need for recent graduates, freelance illustrators and designers plus self-taught artists to have the proper resources they need to make it as a self-employed creative”.

To that end, Holly filled that need in the artistic community with her 2009 book, Breaking Into Freelance Illustration: The Guide For Artists Designers and Illustrators. This book helps readers to develop skills in the business side of artistic practice, addressing many questions which Holly found being asked throughout her many years as a post-NSAD graduate and mentor. This book has received some very good reviews on Amazon.ca, so I can feel confident in recommending this title even though I haven’t yet personally read it. I have a huge stack of books already waiting for my perusal, and I feel that this one needs to shared with students and grads now, not when I have time to finally buy it and read it – especially as someone else just recommended another title I should read.

Don’t forget that the Early Bird discount period for the Banff World Television Festival ends on April 20th – the Banff World Television Festivalfestival is about far more than just television – check it out. Dentyne Gum has launched their new interactive site with a new AR contest – you could win $25 000.00 with the symbol on the pack of Dentyne gum you’ve purchased. Canada 3.0 Forum has just announced that David Usher (ex-Moist) has joined the great line-up of speakers for this year’s event which will be MC’d by Global TV news anchor Kevin Newman. Taking place in Stratford on May 10 & 11, Canada 3.0 offers a unique opportunity to engage in seminars and discussions about Canada’s future in the tech industry.

DejeroCongratulations are due to Waterloo tech company Dejero – creator of the new Dejero LIVE Platform, the company has been awarded a Broadcast Engineering Pick Hit award at the 2010 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) international tradeshow in Las Vegas. The Dejero LIVE Platform is a ground-breaking new way to broadcast live high-quality video without the high cost or complexity of satellite or microwave transmission. Dejero was selected from 1,500 companies that exhibited at NAB for their introduction of the Dejero LIVE Platform that is set to transform live television. Read the rest of this entry »

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14th April 2010

ESA Canada Sends Recommendations To The Federal Government

esacESA Canada has submitted ten recommendations to Canada’s federal government for a national digital economy strategy in a paper entitled Game On, Canada! Playing to Win in the Digital Economy (PDF). This paper covers a number of issues critical to Canadian competitiveness. Taken together, these solutions would not only benefit the Canadian video game industry, but would position Canada as a more competitive jurisdiction in which to invest.ESAC Game On Canada 2010

This 22 page report outlines not only the importance of talent development and improving the digital literacy of current and future generations, it also speaks to the very important issue of access to capital and widening the scope of such areas as the Scientific Research and Experimental Development grants. The recommendations also include suggestions in regards to current copyright laws and access to affordable, high quality broadband nationwide. There are many excellent points raised in this ESAC paper, and is an excellent springboard for further discussion about the future of the interactive digital media industry in Canada.

Good luck to the three Canadian-developed games which were named to the 2010 Microsoft XNA Dream Build Play competition: The Shadows in the Underworld, DualityZF and Capsized. Finalists should be announced by Microsoft in the next few weeks. Congratulations to EA Sports’ FIFA 10 on being named to the World Cyber Games official tournament list for the 2010 season.

If you’re going to be in the Toronto area on June 4th, the Branded Content Summit is something you may want to Northern Voicelook at attending. The Branded Content Summit (BCS) will bring people together from marketing, advertising, content production and media to better understand trends, share ideas and learn how to profit from the shift towards branded content. Also of interest is Northern Voice, which will be held out here in Vancouver on May 7th & 8th. The Personal Blogging and Social Media Conference has released its schedule of speakers and registration is now open.

EXPIf you’re an over-19 gamer in the Vancouver area, check out EXP’s first big event this coming Friday night at the VFS Cafe. There will be several gaming stations set up and tournaments will abound. There will be some great prizes offered – but only those who RSVP via the event’s FaceBook page will gain admittance.+

IGLOO Online CommunitiesKitchenerIGLOO Software today announced the launch of the industry’s first Social Media Playbook. This free resource is an invaluable tool for anyone implementing social software solutions – inside the organization, to improve employee productivity, or outside, to enhance stakeholder engagement. The Playbook offers four core community building resources:Social Media PlayBook Read the rest of this entry »

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13th April 2010

Today in The Canadian Interactive World

IUGOVancouver – Get ready to chill out with IUGO’s latest iPhone/iPad title; ESCAPE: Norm’s World XL. Zone out on limitless Zen puzzles with Escape XL. Swipe to jump Norm from stone to stone to eliminate all and solve the puzzle. Norm's World Escape XL

Escape features endless levels and gameplay with 3 difficulty levels for replayability. An unlimited supply of easy puzzles are free, but a 99¢ upgrade will get you medium and hard levels, feeding the addiction you won’t even see coming. Escape also features simple controls for all ages with minimalist graphics, which give it a maximum appeal for all players. You can drive yourself crazy solving the puzzles with unique cerebral game play which is complimented by relaxing audio and visual effects.

ESCAPE XL designed exclusively for the iPad features:

· Versus mode: challenge a friend in a race to solve the puzzle (IAP)
· Co-op mode: Collaborate with a friend to solve the puzzle (IAP)
· 3D graphics!
· 2 camera angles to choose from (single player mode)
· 2 characters to choose from: play as Norm or Norma
· Enhanced UI for larger interface and multiplayer modes

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ESCAPE: Norm’s World XL is FREE TO PLAY! Users may access unlimited puzzles with the Easy mode. For iPhone and iPad, Medium and Hard levels cost 99¢ as IAP. For the iPad, 2 player modes both Co-op and Versus can be purchased additionally for 99¢. ESCAPE: Norm’s World is IUGO’s 16th iPhone title and their 4th iPad title to launch on the App Store. ESCAPE is also available for BlackBerry devices!

cosmos interactiveVancouver Cosmos Interactive Inc. has released the long awaited game Babylonian Twins for the iPhone and iPad. The new game is based on the original never released Amiga version that was made in Iraq during the economic sanctions back in the early nineties. Since day one, the game hit the top-paid list in the puzzle category on the App Store and received five star ratings and reviews. The game is available now for download on iTunesBabylonian Twins

In 1993, Rabah Shihab, an engineering student at the university of Baghdad, and two of his colleagues defied the difficulties of the sanctions and built Babylonian Twins, a game with a unique theme inspired from authentic history books. Their goal was to promote a positive image about Iraq and its history. However, the game was never released due to the sanctions and demise of Commodore. In 2007, videos of Babylonian Twins were published for the first time on YouTube sparking huge positive reaction from the Amiga retro community. Since then Babylonian Twins received thousands of hits from over 85 countries. Read the rest of this entry »

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31st March 2010

Is Your Spidey Sense Tingling?

Quebec City – Activision Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Entertainment have released the first details of Spider-Man™: Shattered Dimensions, the newest entry of non-stop heroic action toSpiderman Shattered Dimension star the iconic wall-crawler. In development at Beenox, the video game is scheduled for release in September 2010 and will allow players to travel through four different worlds as distinctly different versions of Spider-Man from four universes across Marvel lore, two of which are announced today: The Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man Noir.

As Spider-Man, players will experience a wide variety of gameplay and dramatic environments. The Amazing Spider-Man experience delivers innovative web combat and visuals in a world that pays tribute to the classic era of the legendary Super Hero. In contrast, Spider-Man Noir features a cunning and covert depiction of Spider-Man, who utilizes shadows to perform stealth takedowns in a 1930’s-Spiderman Shattered Dimensioninfluenced, black-and-white cinematic environment.

“Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions delivers an original storyline that bridges four unique worlds,” said Rob Kostich, Head of Marketing, Activision Publishing, Inc. “Each action-packed universe will have its own detailed art design and thrilling missions, challenging gamers to use new skill sets to defeat enemies as they unlock powerful new moves and progress through the game.”

Penned by acclaimed Marvel comic book writer Dan Slott, the story takes players on a mission to capture the magical energy of the Tablet of Order and Chaos, which has been shattered and scattered across parallel universes. Gamers are challenged to battle fan-favorite villains such as the lethal Kraven and a custom, never-before-seen Noir version of Hammerhead, in a quest to restore the fabric of reality.

UbisoftMontreal Ubisoft has released a video wrap-up from their live Splinter Cell: Conviction competition which was held this past weekend in Toronto. By the looks of it, a good time was had by all, especially the winners, who got to leave the competition Sam Fisher style, in a helicopter. Splinter Cell: Conviction is rated M by the ESRB and is slated for release on April 13 2010.

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Rogers Digital MediaTorontoRogers Digital Media and Brightcove Inc., the leading online video platform, today announced they have partnered to deliver a newly re-designed Citytv.com video theatre, which features a variety of locally-produced Citytv content along with exclusive full-length episodes of popular television shows including 30 Rock, The Bachelor and The Biggest Loser.

The new Citytv.com video theatre also utilized search technology from Endeca Technologies to improve the site’s overall search and navigation capabilities and the speed at which content is delivered.

“Brightcove and Endeca have enabled Citytv.com to rapidly introduce a scalable and flexible video experience that meets the evolving needs of our online audiences and deepens consumer engagement with our video content,” said Claude Galipeau, senior vice president of Rogers Digital Media. “At the same time, our new video theatre has furthered our video-related sales product offerings for advertisers.”

In re-launching on the Brightcove platform, Citytv.com now provides viewers throughout Canada with exclusive access to HD-quality full-length episodes of popular U.S. and Canadian television programs. With Brightcove, Citytv.com is able to deliver the highest quality user experience possible, as well as to extend the reach of its video content through Brightcove’s advanced social sharing capabilities. Brightcove’s ease of integration with leading advertising networks and servers also enables Citytv.com to introduce new monetization opportunities for its long and short-form video content. Read the rest of this entry »

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29th March 2010

Bioware Celebrates Fifteen

Bioware CorpEdmontonBioware is celebrating its 15th anniversary with the launch of Bioware Bazaar. Officially open on April 6th, the Bazaar is comprised of a “week-long series of mock online auctions that will feature over 400 items ranging from custom painted PC’s, Alienware laptops, BioWare apparel and more!” Coincidentally, April 6 is also the launch date for the next bit of DLC for Mass Effect 2. Kasumi’s Stolen Memory will be available for 560 Microsoft Points and will feature new crew member Kasumi Goto, new missions and a sweet new weapon – the sound-suppressed Locust SMG, a new achievement and a flash-bang loyalty power.

According to the Bazaar info page, in order “to bid on these items, fans will need to collect tokens through various challenges. The first auction begins at 9 AM PST on Tuesday, April 6th, with new items being made available every 15 minutes, ending 4 PM PST Saturday, April 10th. So tell your friends, start collecting tokens, and get ready to win some amazing prizes!” You can read the full Rules of Engagement on the Bioware Bazaar rules page. Happy Birthday, Bioware!

Canada 3.0 2010Stratford – The Canada 3.0 2010 forum slated for May 10-11 will set an ambitious target for Canada’s digital media industry – that of making it possible for “anyone to do anything on-line in Canada – by 2017”. The second annual forum will bring together the people who can make that happen from industry, government and academia for a two-day event intended to boost Canada’s ability to lead in the digital economy.

“We’ve set this ‘Moonshot’ that might sound impossible, just as putting a man on the moon once sounded impossible, but it is attainable if we harness all the necessary resources and are fully committed to making this happen,” said Kevin Tuer, Managing Director of the Canadian Digital Media Network, a federal centre of excellence in commercialization and research. “While the sun is setting on some more traditional industries, there are many opportunities worth shooting for in digital media spanning all aspects of our economy.”

Kevin Newman, Anchor and Executive Editor of Global National, will emcee the main plenary sessions. Keynote speakers and panelists include: Tony Chapman, Founder & CEO of branding and advertising agency Capital C; Tom Jenkins, Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of Open Text Corporation; Helen McDonald, Assistant Deputy Minister, Spectrum, Information Technologies and Telecommunications, Industry Canada; Sarah Prevette, Founder & CEO of entrepreneurship community Sprouter.com; Gerri Sinclair, Executive Director, Masters of Digital Media Program, Centre for Digital Media, B.C.; and more to be announced soon.

“This event is critically important to Canada as we re-evaluate our economic foundation,” said Newman. “All sectors of our economy, including our creative artists and storytellers, need to understand the emerging keys to success in an increasingly competitive global economy and culture.”

Staged once again at the Rotary Complex in Stratford, the forum features a select group of speakers in the main plenary session with opportunity for attendee discussion and input in a broader range of breakout sessions and workshops.

Canada 3.0 2010 will build on the momentum created at last year’s forum that attracted some 1500 people, and will have a broad scope given that digital media is defined by organizers as ‘anything created or shared virtually’. The line-up of forum ‘streams’ is led by heavy-hitters in the digital media sector. Topics include:

* Imagining – Global best practices: What does Canada do well? What should Canada be doing?
– Chaired by – Tom Jenkins, Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer at Open Text Corporation; Gerri Sinclair, Executive Director, Masters of Digital Media Program, Centre for Digital Media, B.C.; and Ian Wilson, Executive Director, University of Waterloo Stratford Institute
* Empowering – Networks, infrastructure and mobility
– Chaired by – René Barsalo, Director Research and Strategy, Society for Arts and Technology, Montreal; Michele Perras, Director of the Mobile Experience Innovation Centre; and David Yach, Chief Technology Officer, Software at Research In Motion Read the rest of this entry »

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26th March 2010

The Canada Media Fund Webcast Made My Head Hurt

Orby - Proud to be CanadianI listened to the Town Hall webcast of the official launch and question period earlier today, and to be honest, as a non-developer, all of the policy is making my head hurt. Kudos to those of you who work with policies and documents such as the Canada Media Fund and understand all of the application processes. Please read on to learn more about today’s CMF announcements – I put it at the end of today’s post so that your minds wouldn’t be frazzled before you could take in the rest of the day’s news from our great Canadian digital media industry. See? There is a method to my Gemini madness…

CanpagesVancouverCanPages has extended their API contest deadline to April 12 2010, so all of you developers out there still have time to enter. All entered applications must be showcased in a video for judging and four finalists will be decided by popular vote. Those final four app entries will be judged by an internal panel of Canpages.ca executives who will determine the $5,000 Grand Prize winner. All applications will be showcased on Canpages.ca, and the final application winners will showcase their app video at DemoCamp Vancouver. dimeRocker

If you haven’t tried the dimeRocker site yet, or want to know how to get started on games using it in conjunction with Unity3D, check out dimeRocker’s PDF Getting Started tutorial. If you are working on a Facebook game but aren’t sure how to get it published, the folks at dimeRocker can help you with that too. Yesterday they published a deployment tutorial which is so easy to follow even I understood it. Now if I could just draw and animate…

Untold EntertainmentUntold Entertainment recently opened a new site dedicated to the best in free flash word games. Enter Word Game World. What makes this new portal different from other free Word Game Worldgame portals is that each game is curated. Speaking on the Untold blog, Ryan Creighton said that every game is tested and properly classified in a word game sub-category. Visitors to the site can choose their favourite type of word game to play and easily find a free, quality title to enjoy. The games even work properly. Untold Entertainment is also developing a new word game title SpellCaster which, according to their site, will combine word-building with a fantastic story, packed with colorful characters, humour, danger, and a magical menagerie of monsters. I was privileged to get a look at an earlier title that Untold had been working on and had lots of fun with it, so I am definitely looking forward to having a go at SpellCaster.

Canadian Video Game AwardsDon’t forget that nominations for the Canadian VideoGame and Digital Arts Awards close on March 31st. Nominations for 2009 titles are free, so what’s holding you back? Get your nominations in today! In related news, GDC Canada has announced more speaker sessions for the May 6 – 7 conference taking place in Vancouver. A sample of the newly added GDC Canada 2010sessions:

* Evolving Episodic for a Growing Digital Audience with Dan Connors (CEO, Telltale Games)
* Forza Motorsport 3 Audio: Design, Process and Pipeline with Greg Shaw (Audio Director, Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft) and Mike Caviezel (Audio Designer, Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft)
* Social Games – 85 Million Farmers Can’t All be Wrong with Jason Bailey (GM of Virtual Currencies, Adknowledge)

Early Bird passes are only available until March 31st, so if you haven’t reserved yours, you should ideally do so within the next few days. Check out the session schedule (note that more sessions may yet be announced) Stir Fry Gamesand then make plans to attend the second GDC Canada conference in Vancouver this spring.

Stir Fry Games has released a new trailer for the PC version of their XBox Live Indie Games title SFG Soccer, an arcade-style sports game featuring 64 customizable teams and tournament play. Both PC and 360 versions of SFG Soccer are available now for purchase, plus you can try the demo before buying the full game. Read the rest of this entry »

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23rd March 2010

Finding Direction In Canada’s Digital Compass Competition

Toon BoomMontrealToon Boom has released a new version of their Flip Boom Classic animation software. Version 4 now has sound recording ability, so users can add their own voices and sound effects to their animations. Flip Boom Classic 4 is designed primarily for kids who would like to learn computer animation, and today’s new release comes with Easter templates as well as a full tutorial. Flip Boom Classic 4 can be purchased online for only $39.99.

PricewaterhouseCoopersToronto – All signs point to a digital transformation in the way we do business, our lifestyles and the global economy. As Canada tries to find its footing in the digital industry, today PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) has launched Canada’s Digital Compass – a ‘crowdsourcing’ competition that will ask Canadians to help define the nation’s role in the future digital economy.

Canada’s Digital Compass will draw a community of Canadians who are passionate about digital transformation to submit and vote on ideas that could help position Canada to lead the digital economy. Weekly competitions will take place on five topic areas and winners from each competition will participate in a final showdown on May 4, 2010 where the top three ideas will be chosen. The three winners will be awarded tickets to the Canada 3.0 conference at the University of Waterloo on May 10-11, 2010 where their submissions could be presented to attendees.

“The best ideas are developed by collaborating with others and Canada’s Digital Compass is a crowdsourcing initiative which is built on this principle,” says Tracey Riley, partner and national leader of the Technology, Information, Communication and Entertainment (TICE) practice of PwC. “Canada is home to some of the brightest minds in the digital space and this program will allow a community of digital enthusiasts to contribute, critique and build upon ideas that will help Canada lead in the digital realm.”

In addition to community involvement, a panel of digital experts will also weigh in on the submissions and will assist in selecting the top three winners. Their decisions will be based on the ideas with the most community votes and how well each submission aligns with the three measures of success:  economic potential, how it fits with Canada’s capabilities and how it reflects Canada’s values.

“The panel is comprised of experts from a wide range of industry backgrounds and will play an important part in the campaign,” says Riley. “Along with feedback from the community, the panelists will inject valuable insights on the submissions based on their expertise.”

The panel of judges includes:

– Mike Kirkup, Director of Developer Relations, Research In Motion (RIM)
– Jacob Glick, Policy Counsel, Google
– Barbara Bailie, Director of Interactive, Astral Television Networks
– Olivier Vincent, President and CEO, Canpages
– Jerry Brown, Associate Partner, Consulting and Deals, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Weekly Competitions and Subjects:

– Technology – March 16 – 29, 2010
– Education – March 30 – April 5, 2010
– Media Production – April 6 – 12, 2010
– Connectivity – April 13 – 19, 2010
– Policy Development – April 20 – 26, 2010

Best Buy CanadaSurreyBest Buy Canada will be celebrating the grand opening of its new South Surrey store beginning Friday, March 26 at 15760 Croydon Drive, Surrey, B.C. (at Grandview Corners). The grand opening specials and $500 daily Gift Card giveaways are also included at all Lower Mainland Best Buy locations!

Grand Opening Weekend Schedule of Events:

Friday, March 26, 2010

– Before 9:45 am: Line up for a chance to win a $500 Best Buy gift card
– 9:45 am: Cheque presentations: $2,500 to Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver and $2,500 to Big Sisters B.C. Lower Mainland
– 9:30 am: $20,000 cheque presentation from Monster Cable to Olympic Gold Medalist Chandra Crawford for Fast & Female
– 5 – 7 pm: Iron Man meet and greet Read the rest of this entry »

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19th March 2010

It’s Friday Let’s Rock

First up, our congratulations to Bioware and Dragon Age: Origins for picking up a Swedish Games Industry award for RPG of the Year and to EA Burnaby for picking up Sports Game of the Year for FIFA 10. Also, a reminder that the Early Bird price deadline for GDC Canada is fast approaching. Take advantage of the ticket discounts and get your passes before March 31 for this May’s great event at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

IUGOThere’s lots going on over at IUGO Mobile Entertainment as well. Earlier today the studio announced that several of their game titles will be released for the iPad. On the list are Cliffed, Zombie Attack Second Wave and Implode, along with their brand new game, Escape: Norm’s World. We also found out today that IUGO’s Director of Business Management, Sarah Thompson, will be one of two featured speakers at the upcoming Appy Hour, which is presented by The Social Agency. Appy Hour will be happening on March 26th at the Revel Room from 4 – 6pm. Also speaking at Appy Hour will be Jesse MacFayden, a developer over at Nitobi.

Vancouver TwestivalThe Vancouver Twestival will be taking place at the CBC Vancouver Audience Lounge this March 25th, and tickets are now on sale.  The Twestival is part of a global day of fundraising which will involve thousands of Twitter-users around the world who are gathering together to raise money for Concern Worldwide, an international humanitarian organization dedicated to reducing suffering and ending extreme poverty.

Your $20 Twestival ticket includes:

– Admission (donation to Concern Worldwide)
– 1 Wine ticket (more available for purchase)
– 1 Raffle ticket (more available for purchase)
– Food (sushi & canapes)
– Official souvenir YVRTwestival button
– Entertainment (Rob Cottingham, live DJ, Mojave)
– Socializing with Twitter friends (although that’s priceless!)

Bioware CorpEdmontonBioware has announced the release dates for the next round of new DLC for Mass Effect 2. The Firewalker pack will be available beginning on March 23, and Alternate Appearance PackKasumi Goto will join the crew of the Normandy on April 6. Kasumi’s DLC expansion will be titled Stolen Memories. Also coming on March 23 are new appearances for crew members Thane, Jack and Garrus. The Alternate Appearance pack will be available for 160 MS Points. The Firewalker DLC pack will include the brand new M-57 Hammerhead Hover Tank as well as five brand-new missions and locations to explore. This expansion will be free to those gamers who have the Cerberus Network option enabled. The Cerberus Network game add-on code included free to all those gamers who purchased the game new; if you bought a previously-played version, you can add the Cerberus Network option for 1200 MS Points through the XBL Morrigan DisapprovesMarketplace. In my opinion, the Cerberus Network offers much value in return and is well worth the points if you didn’t purchase the game new.

There are also plenty of new items over in the Bioware store. Today’s new product announcement is the “Morrigan Disapproves” Dragon Age shirt. If you have a Bioware, Mass Effect or Dragon Age fan in your house, then the Bioware store is a great place to find some cool gift items from shirts and hats to lithographs and music.

The CFTPA has made the National Digital Strategy Prime Time panel videos and several PowerPoint presentations available online. To download the presentations and speeches, scroll down through the schedule list and click on the links for the presentations you would like. I think that by making these videos and presentations available to those who were unable to make the February conference is a great way to continue a national dialogue for the Toby - Guitar Herodevelopment of a Canadian digital strategy, and I appreciate the efforts by those at the CFTPA for taking strides to keep those of us in the digital media industry informed and talking.

I’m going to leave you on this Friday afternoon with a music video from the young English rock group Jonny Black. Now, you may ask yourself why a Canadian digital media news site is promoting an English group, and I would answer, “because the young men who make up this group are friends of ours and they deserve some extra promotion. Plus, they’re gamers, too.”

Formerly known as Mendella, Jonny Black’s band members are among those who have a dream and work hard to forge their path in the achievement of that dream. This video in particular is an endeavour by the group to have one of their songs chosen as the UK soccer team’s anthem for the 2010 World Cup. We hope that you enjoy Jonny Black’s music as much as we do, and will help their video go viral (watch it, fave it, share it) thereby playing a part in the achievement of their goals. You can read more about our involvement with Jonny Black and learn more about these young men here, here, and in our gallery, right here.

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18th March 2010

Opportunities Abound for Intrigue and Global Domination

Global – Gamers are an enthusiastic bunch when it comes to the latest gaming technology, but it’s the developers that make the technology come to life. For Intel’s Level Up 2010: Intel® Visual Adrenaline Game Demo Challenge, independent developers around the world will be pushing the limits to create new experiences and breakthrough game concepts for 2010.

The competition, in its fifth year, invites professional, hobbyist and student game developers to submit their original game concepts for a chance to win prizes such as a trip to the Tokyo Game Show (for professionals and hobbyists), and a trip to the 2010 Austin Game Developer conference (for students). Other prizes include cash, the latest hardware systems, the newest software packages, and agency engagement packages to help developers market and promote their winning game.

Game developers can submit their concepts for judging in three categories:

* Best Game for a Desktop
* Best Game for a Laptop
* Best Game for a Netbook

Judge’s Choice Awards will also be given for Best Art Design, Best Graphics Performance, Best Sound Design, and Best Character Design.

For the first phase of the competition, developers will be asked to submit their game concept by June 22 2010. The game concept must describe an idea that will make for an incredible game. In addition to the brief description, developers are invited to include screen shots, visuals or videos of the idea — these materials will help provide context for the judges to review and see the complete vision of the game.

Finalists will be selected by July 11 and will have until August 31 to provide detailed game demo abstracts and game executables. From there, the finalist entries will be reviewed by a panel of judges made up of industry experts. The winning game demos will be announced during the Austin Game Developer’s Conference on October 5. Winning demos from Levelup 2009 are also available to play online. Oh and for those interested, Intel is hiring for its Vancouver location.

UbisoftMontreal – The demo for Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction is available now for download to your Xbox 360. Splinter Cell: Conviction, developed by Ubisoft Montreal, opens with our hero Sam Fisher working off the grid trying to solve his daughter’s murder. We find a changed Sam back in Washington, where he must work with old friends he can no longer trust, forced to save a country he no longer serves. Left without any choice, Sam has to defeat both a vast, faceless enemy and the shadows of the past to find out what happened to his daughter – and himself. Splinter Cell: Conviction is scheduled for full release exclusively to the Xbox 360 in April, and is rated M by the ESRB.

Just a few of the key features that gamers can look forward to in this latest Sam Fisher adventure include:

* New level of action: A full arsenal of cutting-edge innovations allow you to outflank foes with the Last Known Position™ system, tag and eliminate enemies using the Mark and Execute™ feature, and much more.
* Blockbuster experience: A unique storytelling style keeps you on the edge of your seat as you navigate the explosive world of a renegade agent where trust is impossible and justice requires you to go above the law.
* A new level of immersion: A revolutionary new graphic direction delivers an utterly seamless gameplay experience that’ll keep you totally engrossed in the story of Sam Fisher.
* Explosive Xbox LIVE play: Brand-new addictive multiplayer modes amp up the dramatic intensity like never before.

EA GamesMontrealEA Montreal has released an all-new co-op campaign map pack titled ‘Chapters of Deceit’ on Xbox Live for their award-winning title, Army of Two: The 40th Day. Available immediately on Xbox Live Marketplace (800 MS Points), the map pack will be available on April 1 on the PlayStation Network ($9.99). Army of Two: The 40th Day – Chapters of Deceit puts players back amidst the disaster in Shanghai where they will stumble upon new information that could help end the invasion by Jonah and his 40th Day Initiative army. However, they quickly learn that everyone is out for themselves and no one can be trusted. The lives of this iconic two-man private military team are at risk, forcing players to rely on each other to get out alive.

Originally released in January 2010, Army of Two: The 40th Day boasts a robust playbook of co-op moves. The game features one of the most extensive and varied weapon customization systems ever found in an action/shooter game. Players can mix and match weapon parts and execute strategic two-man tactics that create a one-of-a-kind co-op action experience. Army of Two: The 40th Day is rated “M” by the ESRB and is available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and the PSP.

TransGamingTorontoTransGaming, Inc. has announced that it is working with Google to develop ANGLE (Almost Native Graphics Layer Engine), an Open Source project to provide improved hardware and driver compatibility for the upcoming WebGL™ web graphics standard for systems running Windows®. The ANGLE project aims to achieve this broader compatibility by layering the OpenGL® ES 2.0 API on top of Direct3D®. The result for developers working with the WebGL standard will be a more consistent experience for their applications and a larger potential audience of users. Read the rest of this entry »

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