22nd April 2010

Happy Earth Day Canada

Readers Digest Trusted Brands 2010Results of the annual Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brands Poll are out, and for the techno-Canadians, Duracell topped the Battery category, while Canon is the most trusted Digital Camera, Sony won the broad and vague Entertainment Equipment Manufacturer category; Blackberry is the most trusted Mobile Communications Device and Apple wins for Mobile Entertainment.

This year’s list of Canada’s Greenest Employers was announced this morning by the editors of the Canada’s Olympic Gaming MixerTop 100 Employers project. Fifty organizations across Canada were recognized on this year’s list.

There’s another fun gaming-related mixer coming up in Vancouver – check out the Olympic Gaming Mixer, which will be taking place on the evening of Friday, May 7, 2010 at the Century Restaurant and Bar on Richards. Check out the event’s FaceBook page for the list of challenges to be had at the Olympic Gaming Mixer.

Siggraph VancouverDon’t forget to buy your tickets for the ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver presentation of Designing Assassin’s Creed II featuring Lead Game Designer Patrick Plourde from Ubisoft Montreal, which is generously sponsored in part by AnnexPro and 3vis. He will discuss the challenges faced by the dev team: an enormous scope, one of the biggest development teams ever assembled and a limited time frame. This talk is about sharing our best practices to ship high quality games through a focused and rigorous Design Process while maximizing the output of production. Tickets for this May 18th event at the VanCity Theatre are only $15.00 for SIGGRAPH members and $20.00 for non-members. Annual SIGGRAPH membership is only 35.00 – and gets you special pricing at all of our great chapter events. You should join today.

DigiBCDigiBC has put out a call for speakers for its Vancouver Digital Week 2010 event which takes place May 25-28 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Please see their site for more details.

INplay 2010Interactive Ontario is pleased to welcome back Alexander Manu to give a keynote presentation at INPlay 2010. Manu, who delivered a keynote address at Interactive Ontario’s iSummit in 2006, is a strategic innovation practitioner, international lecturer and author. For over 20 years Alexander has enabled global companies as diverse as Motorola, LEGO, Whirlpool, Nokia, Navteq and Unilever, to develop policies and strategies that Goldtooth Creativeaddress emerging issues through strategic foresight and pre-competitive business models.

Goldtooth Creative has once again shown their video magic – check out the Cover Reveal trailer for EA Sports’ Madden NFL 11, developed by Florida’s Tiburon Studio. Goldtooth’s incredibly talented teams have produced trailers and cinematics for many of today’s top titles. Need a production team for your project? We recommend them.

BC indie developer Krabbitsoft Studio has released new features and specs for their RPG Krabbit World Origins. Featuring some very unique creatures, Krabbit World Krabbit OnlineOrigins has a very strong player community, and allows for single or multi-player modes. This is a game we’re going to be taking a look at in the coming weeks – look for it to be featured in our review section later in May 2010.

Banff World Television Festival has just released a call for entrants for the nextMEDIA Digital Hot List. This is a competition open to developers, Banff World Television Festivalcontent producers, and digital superstars. This is your chance to showcase your new, innovative digital property and grab the attention of advertisers who are looking for exciting brand integration opportunities. There are four available categories for entry:

*  Media (Does your website stand out amongst the rest?)
* Talent (Are you a proven online superstar with millions of followers?)
* Content Proposal (Got the best new idea for online content and branded entertainment?)
* Technologies (Are you creating the coolest apps, games and digital ad solutions?)

This contest closes on May 3rd, so if you’re interested in entering, you’d better get a move on!

googlyNew children’s mobile application studio Googly was delighted to find its first app, Alphabets in the Zoo featured yesterday in iTunes’ New and Noteworthy section, and amazed to see it reach number one on the education list.Alphabets In The Zoo

Alphabets in The Zoo features a charming new animated alphabet song and story to help children learn their letters as they look, listen, and sing-a-long. Children’s understanding of the alphabet is taught and reinforced as they enjoy Saad Rashid’s colorful animation, listen to the Fauzia Abbasi’s delightful lyrics, and enjoy Dave Klotz’s catchy tune. Googly plans to release an iPad version of Alphabets in The Zoo shortly, and three more original children’s apps in the next 30 days. Read the rest of this entry »

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21st April 2010

The Collective Interactivity and Networkability of Canada Is Amazing

GDC Canada has announced the addition of three more sessions: GDC Canada 2010

Concrete Practices to be a Better Leader with Brian Sharp (Bungie)
Bringing Dragon Age to Life – Digital Actors in an Epic RPG with Shane Hawco & Clove Roy (Bioware)
Funding for Game Developers – Do’s and Don’ts with Glenn Entis (Vanedge Capital)

If you missed the chance to see the Vancouver SIGGRAPH presentation of Bringing Dragon Age toShane and Clove Life, I highly recommend that you attend the GDC Canada presentation. While overlooking my huge bias as a Dragon Age player, Shane and Clove have put together a great discussion about the processes which Bioware’s dev team went through to get Dragon Age into the gaming universe. Please see the GDC Canada Conference Tracks for a complete list of all announced sessions.

Also announced are some of the official networking and socializing events surrounding GDC Canada:

GDC Canada Opening Night Party Sponsored by Epic – Wednesay, May 5th at 8PM
GDC Canada VIP Party Sponsored by BigPark & XBOX LIVE – Thursday, May 6th at 7PM
GDC Canada Expo Lounge Sponsored by BigPark & XBOX LIVE – May 6-7th (during expo hours)
Business to Business Lounge Supported By DFAIT – May 6-7th (during expo hours)

Canadian Video Game AwardsAnd don’t forget that the Canadian Videogame and Digital Arts Awards take place on May 5th at 7pm and will feature a performance by Video Games Live (we highly recommend this show); tickets are now on sale, and very reasonably priced. If you haven’t yet had your say for Game of the Year, what are you waiting for? I’ll tell you in advance though, it’s not really an easy choice to make.

EXPVancouver – Last Friday night we joined about 150 game enthusiasts from all walks of the local game development scene – fans, students and studio folk – at the VFS Cafe for EXP Gaming Night of Awesomean evening of pure game enjoyment. From Rockband on the main stage to a plethora of tournaments, Brian Vidovic, owner of EXP Gaming and his team of volunteers put on an excellent evening of socializing and entertainment for the over 19 gaming crowd. In addition to some of the latest games on next gen consoles, there was even fun to be had on the Super Nintendo.

EXP Gaming Night of AwesomeFriday night’s event also sparked the beginning of the Street Fighter IV tournament ladder and the Burnout Revenge team event. Sponsors for EXP Gaming Night of Awesome included VFS, SplitReason, Radical Entertainment, Knot Theory Ties and EA Canada.

Many thanks to Miko Wilson for the photos he has given Village Gamer permission to publish. Please check out Miko’s blog to see of his great photographic work.

EXP Gaming is teaming up with CGVA to present Overture 7 – SSFIV Tournament, which will takeOverture 7 place on May 1st out at UBC. According to the organizers, there are only two simple goals: get hype for SSFIV and welcome the re-birth of the competitive videogame scene. Game play will take place on 360s and PS3s, combatants must bring their own controllers, and the tournament will abide by Arcade Rules. Please see the event’s FaceBook page for complete information on how to participate.

Interactive OntarioTorontoInteractive Ontario has announced their iP3 forum, which will take place in June. The venue and registration information has not yet been finalized, but they will be putting out a call for speakers soon. If you’re an animator in the Toronto area, check out Animation Live Industry Night which happens tomorrow night at The Field House. Read the rest of this entry »

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20th April 2010

GDC Canada Offers Free Passes To Laid Off Industry Folk

GDC Canada 2010Vancouver – The organizers of next month’s GDC Canada event in Vancouver are offering free Main Conference passes to Canadian game developers laid off in the last twelve months to help them return to the game industry.

Continuing a similar program conducted during GDC Canada 2009, and recognizing the toll the recession has taken on elements of the mainstream video game industry, a special page on the GDC Canada website details the offer’s specifics.

To qualify, prospective attendees must have been laid off from a Canadian video game or creative/digital arts company within the past 12 months, not be currently full-time employed, and provide their Canadian Record of Employment document at GDC Canada onsite registration to validate your status.

They will also need to pre-register now for the May 6th-7th event at the Vancouver Convention Center by following the instructions on the GDC Canada page devoted to the subject. Only a limited amount of these passes are available.

The GDC Canada event itself has now confirmed much of its content, with a full schedule of announced lectures now available, and the Canadian Videogame Awards now confirmed for the night before the event.

Highlighted lectures for GDC Canada, which is presented by Reboot Communications and this website’s parent the UBM Techweb Game Network, include a FarmVille-related keynote plus talks from the Dead Rising 2 and Fallout: New Vegas creators.

The event will also host a Game Career Seminar on the Friday of the show, plus evening networking events, as well as an expo hall including a number of career booths from local Canadian companies hiring staff.

More information on the 2010 GDC Canada event, including pricing specifics, lectures announced to date and registration deadlines are available on the official GDC Canada website.

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20th April 2010

Teaching With Technology Winners Announced

CDW CanadaEtobicoke – CDW Canada has announced the 13 winners of its second annual Teaching With Technology™ Story and Sweepstakes Contest, which saw the number of entries doubled over last year’s competition, with winning submissions from Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia. Six winners were chosen by a panel of judges to receive the grand prize packages in the Story Contest, along with five Sweepstakes winners, as picked by a random draw. New this year, two winners were selected from the Tweet UR Tech Tale Contest, which challenged educators to tweet about their submissions in no more than 140 characters.Teaching With Technology

“We are thrilled with the quantity and quality of this year’s submissions,” said Mary Ann Yule, General Manager, CDW Canada. “These teachers’ poignant stories contain some priceless kernels of wisdom around the use of technology to inspire and motivate students. It’s moving to read how students are truly thriving from different ways of learning. It’s even more invigorating to see how educators are tirelessly exploring new ways to engage students through the use of technology and customizing them to improve the learning process of each and every student.”

CDW Canada’s panel of IT experts picked six grand prize winners who described in 200-500 words how technology has improved or can enhance the learning experience in their classroom or school. Each prize bundle – ranging in value from approximately $2,300 to $3,600 – contains technology products that are useful in today’s classrooms, such as printers, projectors, personal computers, monitors, whiteboards, digital cameras, networking equipment and software.Teaching With Technology Winner #1 - 2010

Winner #1: Crystal Park School in Grande Prairie, Alta. – Gail Grant, teacher

Gail submitted a story about how she uses computers, digital cameras and printers to create images that replace the spoken word, empowering and helping her special education preschool students to communicate in a world full of complicated languages.

In Gail’s words, “Imagine a world where technology opens the world to those previously not able to participate in it. Imagine a world where a picture truly is worth a thousand words. Imagine a world where a boy with autism or Down Syndrome, a girl with cerebral palsy or Prader-Willi Syndrome, children with global developmental delays and those who love them can communicate. I do. I see it every day. That is why I embrace technology as part of my tool kit as a teacher.”

Winner #2: H.J. Cambie Secondary School in Richmond, B.C. – Grace Ho, teacherTeaching With Technology Winner #2 - 2010

Although Grace teaches in a portable classroom with very little access to technology, she explained how she incorporates the limited technology she has into her lesson plans by having students use iPods, digital cameras and home Internet access to create unique and interesting class projects.

Grace wrote, “For a long time, I felt like my hands were tied since I had no classroom computer … no projector … Then I realized that the classroom was bigger than the four walls of my portable. It included my home, my students’ homes and the whole virtual world. I love teaching with technology even when the technology is not in the classroom. Now imagine what we would be capable of if it were.”

Winner #3: Richmond Rose Public School in Richmond Hill, Ont. – Farhana Panju, teacher

Farhana’s entry told the story of how her students used technology to help their peers develop a sense of empathy for the people who were severely affected by the earthquake in Teaching With Technology Winner #3 - 2010Haiti. As a class, they used the Internet, Google Earth, a video camera and iMovie to create Public Service Announcements to raise awareness within the school.

“My class and I are extremely excited to receive the technology prize pack. The new equipment will provide greater opportunities for students to gather, analyze and share information in engaging and meaningful ways,” said Farhana. “With the increased accessibility of online resources, students will further be able to participate in authentic learning tasks which transcend the walls of the classroom and build awareness of the world around them. I look forward to continuing to explore new and creative ways of integrating technology to enhance the learning experience of my students.”

Winner #4: Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary in Surrey, B.C. – Lee Ferrier, teacher

Lee told the story of John, a student in the Grade 12 remedial English class who had very little interest in learning or attending class. Through his exposure to his post-bachelor training, TLITE (Teaching and Learning in an IT Environment), Lee experimented with various technology tools to engage students. After several failed attempts, Lee used a wiki to transform John from a ‘sleeping guy at the back of the room’ to an active participant. John even assumed a peer-teacher role, showing other students how to create their own web pages. Lee wrote, “I was truly startled by the zeal John had when given the opportunity to learn through a medium with which he was comfortable.” Read the rest of this entry »

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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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15th April 2010

Canadians Not Using Their Smartphones Smartly

Our ACM SIGGRAPH Vancouver chapter will be presenting Designing Assassin’s Creed 2 on May 18th. Tickets will be on sale next week for this session. And speaking of Assassin’s Creed 2, Ubisoft® has received confirmationEzio from Guinness World Records that Assassin’s Creed II now holds the Gamer’s Edition Guinness World Record for being the most cover-featured video game. Assassin’s Creed II was used as a lead cover story on 127 different publications in 32 countries, between April 2009 and April 2010.

“Assassin’s Creed is one of our most well-loved brands,” said Alain Corre managing director EMEA at Ubisoft. “The worldwide interest for the brand, coupled with the energy and creativity of our press team made for a winning combination and I am proud of receiving this Guinness World Record.”

Gaz Deaves, Editor of Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition, said: “The evidence submitted by Ubisoft was extremely thorough, with full details of every publication that featured the game. It’s been a pleasure researching this category and we were pleasantly surprised that Assassin’s Creed II took the record – I’m sure plenty of commentators (including myself) would have predicted another well-known game winning the title instead, and this achievement is even more impressive in view of the other 2009 releases that Assassin’s Creed II was able to beat”.

Canadian Video Game AwardsAssassin’s Creed II also leads DigiBC’s upcoming Canadian Video Game Awards with seven nominations – and members of the public are invited to vote for their favourite title in the Game of the Year category.

“The lineup of finalists is a stunning collection of global blockbusters,” said Victor Lucas, host of Electric Playground and one of the award show’s producers. “These are among the biggest games in the world and they represent the best in this country’s innovation and creativity.”

The Canadian Video Game Awards (CVAs) will be held just prior to the second annual Game Developers Conference (GDC Canada) in Vancouver this May 5th and will feature musical entertainment by the internationally renowned Video Games Live. Tickets start at $22 andGDC Canada 2010 are on sale now at the event web site. The show will also be broadcast across the country on G4 Canada through the Rogers Network, and are sponsored by G4, XBOX 360, Sony PlayStation and the Canadian Studios of Electronic Arts.

“These awards recognize the significant contribution of BC and other Canadian companies to the global videogame industry,” said DigiBC president Michael Bidu. “DigiBC’s mandate is to promote the success and sustainability of BC’s digital media and wireless industry and to elevate worldwide awareness of our sector. These Canadian Videogame Awards will attract a lot of attention, both inside and outside of Canada. Ultimately, our industry will grow by attracting talented people, and we’ll do that by telling the world about Vancouver’s strong creative class and BC and Canada’s competitive tax environment and friendly business climate.”

“I’m delighted that DigiBC is onboard with us for the launch of these awards,” said Greg Spievak, founder and principal of Reboot Communications, co-producer of the CVAs. “They have a strong vision for the industry and a successful track record for producing exciting events, such as VX Showcase, their 2010 Winter Olympics event, Skate 3as well as their upcoming VIDWeek 2010.”

The Skate™ 3 demo is now available on XBox Live, with both a single and multi-player experience. Learn the ins and outs of skating with the all-new Skate School or team up and throw down in co-op or competitive gameplay. Featuring new challenge types like Own The Lot and Domination, the ability to save and upload clips using the Replay Editor, and to drop objects to personalize your demo experience, the Skate 3 demo has a little something for everyone.

F5 ExpoDid you get the chance to see Malcolm Gladwell speak at F5 Expo on April 7th? Did you like what he had to say? Many people, including F5 Expo’s own TechLinz, disagreed with Gladwell’s perspective on social media. His mile wide and inch deep philosophy may be accurate, but he failed to look at the benefits of a mile wide network for business transactions. Stressing the need for deep relationships, Gladwell feels these are essential for revolutions, but building a business isn’t necessarily about a revolution. 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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12th April 2010

GDX 2010 Wraps and GDC Canada Ramps Up

Game Design Expo 2010Vancouver – Congratulations to the entire Vancouver Film School team for another successful and educational Game Design Expo, and thank you to all of the esteemed speakers for sharing their knowledge and experience with both current gen and next gen designers. The day featured insight into what has worked in game design, what hasn’t worked, and ideas for the future in the world of game development. I have a massive amount of mostly-deciphered notes from the expo, and I will be sharing them throughout the week, as there is simply too much information for just one wrap article.

The day was opened by William Ho from United Front Games, whose presentation was themed around the processes UFG went through in the development of ModNation Racers. This may be THE game which forces the purchase of a PS3 for the Village Gamer household, although it will require some very creative budgeting to do so.

Armando Troisi, Lead Cinematic Designer over at Bioware was next up, and he discussed how cinematics and gameplay were melded together in one of my favourite franchises, Mass Effect. As a non-designing gamer, it is always interesting to hear about how choices in regards to the user experience are made at the development level, and Armando’s session answered many questions I hadn’t even considered about the dialogue tree and character choices we as gamers make throughout the game.

Rounding out the morning session was Chris Whiteside, Design Director for Propaganda Games. Chris spoke about how teamwork is very important in today’s game design process as he expanded on the relationship of the “in the trenches” designer to other team members as well as to the studio, the stakeholders (money holders) and the end user market. He touched on how important it is to be in touch with your audience, and to make sure that the studio’s relationship with that audience is given voice as games go from concept to store shelf.

Josh Bridge and Jason Leigh from Blue Castle Games opened the afternoon with a perfect post-lunch topic – zombies and their return in Dead Rising 2. The CaveChild has been salivating over this game since its announcement, and all I can say is…combo weapons! Capcom generously permitted the screening of unannounced and non-public information about Dead Rising 2′s progress, and this session was very revealing about the care and attention being put into the Dead Rising sequel.

Obsidian Entertainment’s Lead Systems Designer Matt MacLean lead expo attendees through a session on Crafting the Perfect Challenge. I feel that this was one of the most valuable sessions in regards to getting into looking at the minute details which must be considered when developing a game concept. The goal of playing a game, at least for me, is overcoming the challenges thrown in my way as I journey to the game’s conclusion. Matt covered a variety of ways to craft those challenges in ways to both reward and engage your audience without alienating them.

The final single session of the afternoon was presented by Tyler Sigman, Design Director for Big Sandwich Games. Tyler’s topic was about game mechanics – another very important aspect of game crafting. The mechanics are what you as the developer put in place to both assist and challenge gamers as they try to win their way through your game’s environment. The proper balancing of these mechanics can often make or break a title’s appeal to the mass market, and is something that more than just a handful of studios need to revisit. Good game mechanics can make a player’s experience totally awesome or totally horrid. Which would you prefer – multiple play-throughs of your game, or multiple copies sitting unsold on the back shelf of a game store because gamers don’t like the mechanics?

Ending the day was a panel discussion of The Future of Gaming. Moderated by Reviews on the Run co-host Scott Jones, the panel featured Josh Bridge, Jason Leigh (both from Blue Castle), Ted Nugent (Genius Factor Games), Jay Balmer (Big Park), David Bowring (Volition) and Trent Shumay (FingerFood). This panel, as expected, was highly entertaining while still being highly informative. It’s always interesting to hear where our industry veterans feel the future will lead game design and distribution, and how technology is shaping what we play.

GDC Canada 2010Vancouver - Foreign Affairs and International Trade has partnered with GDC Canada to provide a B2B Lounge at the upcoming May 6 & 7 conference here in Vancouver. The Lounge will provide an off-the-floor area to make deals and network with industry business development professionals, fellow developers and leading tool vendors. There is also space if you want to have a private lounge area at the show, details for the private rooms are available on the GDC Canada site.

GDC Canada has also revealed their line-up for the Game Career Seminar, and judging from this line-up, the Seminar, which is a one day event held on May 7th in conjunction with the main conference, this is a must-attend event for anyone trying to build a future for themselves in the game development industry. Tickets for the Game Career Seminar portion of GDC Canada are $149.00, with a limit of 125 seats available. Also added to the GDC Canada schedule is a Main Conference panel featuring Disney’s Howard Donaldson and ex-Radical head Kelly Zmak,on the harsh ‘new realities’ of making major console games. Read the rest of this entry »

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8th April 2010

Awards Shows Are The Topic of the Day

Canadian Video Game AwardsVancouver – The Canadian Video Game and Digital Arts Awards has released its list of finalists for the inaugural awards gala which will take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre this coming May 5th in conjunction with GDC Canada, which will take place May 6th and 7th, also at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Game of the Year:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dawn of War 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – FIFA 10 and Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

Best Console Game:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – FIFA 10 – NHL 10 and Prototype

Best Handheld Game:

Battle of Giants: Dragons – LEGO Battles – MySims Racing – Pandemica and Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

Best Downloadable Game:

Critter Crunch – Implode! – Osmos – Pandemica and Super Monkey Ball 2

Best Game Audio:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dawn of War 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – Skate 2 and WET

Best Game Design:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dawn of War 2 – Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes – NHL 10 and Prototype

Best Game Technology:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – FIFA 10 – Fight Night Round 4 – Prototype and Skate 2

Best Visual Arts:

Academy of Champions – Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – Fight Night Round 4 and Punch-Out!

Best Writing:

Assassin’s Creed 2 – Dawn of War 2 – Dragon Age: Origins – Prototype and WET

Most Promising Game:

Dead Rising 2 – Deus Ex: Human Revolution – TRON: Evolution – ModNation Racers and Need for Speed: World

Best Animated Short:

EcoBuddies – Ormie – Splinter Cell: Conviction E3 2009 Trailer and The Oracle of Aveon

Visual Effects Movie:

Angels and Demons – Assassin’s Creed: Lineage – District 9 – Invictus and Watchmen

In-Game Cinematic:

LEGO Battles – Ghostbusters: The Video Game – NBA Live 10 and Prototype: Web of Intrigue

Voting for the awards is now open – these are going to be some very difficult choices for me to make, because almost all of my favourite Canadian-made games are on these lists. Decisions, decisions.

Georgia StraightSpeaking of awards, the Georgia Straight has published an article by journalist Blaine Kyllo about The Elans, an award show formerly held in Vancouver and now attempting to relocate to San Diego. This article is a must-read for anyone involved in the digital and interactive media industry.

Business In VancouverVancouver – Also in the awards category today, Cybele Negris, Co-Founder of webnames.ca, is one of six women to be honoured at BIV’s Influential Women in Business awards. This is the 11th year BC’s most influential business women have been honoured. Cybele, former president of Wired Woman Vancouver launched the successful mentorship program members have benefited greatly from. Hear from Cybele, along with 5 other honourees April 14 at the Fairmont Waterfront.

Being honoured on April 14 at the Fairmont Waterfront are:

Janet Austin, CEO, YWCA Vancouver
Ida Goodreau, Corporate Director and former CEO LifeLabs and Vancouver Coastal Health
Sarah Morgan-Silvester, Chancellor, University of British Columbia
Cybele Negris, Co-Founder, webnames.ca
Janine North, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust
Lifetime Achievement Award – Julia Levy, Corporate Director and Co-Founder QLT Inc.

Event Details:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010
The Fairmont Waterfront
Waterfront Ballroom
Reception: 11:30am
Awards Luncheon 12:00pm – 2:00pm
BIV Subscribers: $75, Non-subscribers $95

The Influential Women in Business Awards are presented by Business in Vancouver to recognize successful British Columbia business women in British Columbia. The honourees are selected based on their outstanding achievements in business, contribution to their industry, and influence in the local business community.

mob4hireCalgaryMob4Hire, the world’s largest mobile testing and market research community, today announced a significant new platform release. In development for a year, Mob4Hire Version 4.0 offers mobile functional and usability testing, as well as product and market research using it’s crowd of over 40,000 mobile users in 150 countries. This provides valuable opportunities for mobile app and website developers, advertising executives, product managers, market researchers, marketing teams and developer networks / app stores of handset and network operators to reach global users and include user feedback in the mobile development cycle. This results in a good user experience which in turn drives recommendations, top store rankings, discoverability, and ultimately, viral revenue growth.

Mob4Hire Version 4.0 replaces the old system that has been live since Autumn 2008. Since then, Mob4Hire’s crowd-sourced community of 40,000 mobile testers in 150 countries on 364 network operators, have been helping the almost 1,000 mobile developers registered from 81 countries make better mobile apps through functional testing. Testers (also known as “Mobsters”) have already made thousands of dollars for doing quality assurance work while at the same time helping mobile developers save up to 90% in traditional testing costs.

With this announcement, Mob4Hire is also introducing Basic, Premium and Managed Service pricing tiers to accommodate mobile firms of all shapes and size who need to create and run projects using its crowd-sourced methodologies. Managed Services offers efficient and cost-effective project management; using Mob4Hire’s community can save up to 65% in costs over traditional testing methods and has already been used to manage several multi-national and multi-device tests that would have been cost-prohibitive to run using traditional testing techniques.

netsweeperTorontoNetsweeper, a global provider of Internet Content Filtering and web threat management solutions, is excited to announce a series of core feature enhancements, uniquely designed to further protect children from inappropriate content and other web based threats. Read the rest of this entry »

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