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2nd September 2009

Best Buy Canada To Assist Schools With Technology

Best Buy CanadaBurnabyBest Buy Canada has released its Report Card on Technology in Canada’s classrooms. The report card found that two-thirds of Canadian teachers surveyed believe students are being handicapped for the future by not giving them access to the latest technology. The survey, conducted by Leger Marketing between July 6 and July 19 2009, involved an online survey among 674 respondents randomly selected Canadian adults who are Leger Marketing panelists. The interviews were completed with Canadian teachers from primary to college and university level. This method simulates a probability sample which would yield a maximum margin of error of +/-3.8%, 19 times out of 20.

Best Buy Canada will contribute $300,000 in technology grants to schools in Canada through its Best in Class Fund program in 2009. The survey found that nearly all respondents believe that it is important for students to have the latest technology in order to thrive and succeed in today’s world, which underscores the importance of the Best in Class program.

The Best Buy Canada Report Card on Technology in Canada’s Classrooms, a national survey of 674 Canadian teachers, conducted by Leger Marketing, showed that:

– One-third of teachers surveyed indicated that schools lag behind in providing the best access to new technology to students
– More than half of the respondents (61%) believe that students have the best access to the latest technology at home
– Nearly three-quarters of teachers (74%) agree that having the latest technology in the classroom would foster creativity
– More than half of Canadian teachers use technology as part of their daily curriculum
– Despite the perceived importance of technology in the classroom, as many as one in five Canadian teachers report that they infrequently use technology in their classroom

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2nd September 2009

How to work with an Audio Provider 101

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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2nd September 2009

Canadian Innovation At PAX 2009

PeregrineLloydminster – Today the first videos of The Peregrine gaming glove make Peregrine Glovetheir debut. The Peregrine is a wearable, multiplatform PC input device that gives gamers a powerful edge over the keyboard. Those gamers lucky enough to have the 2009 Penny Arcade Expo on their calendars will have an even better chance to check out The Peregrine, where the gaming glove will be on display at booth #1342.

The videos are presented by Pu “Whisper” Liu, the pro gamer from Team Evil Geniuses who lays claim to the #1 Warcraft III: Dawn of the Ancients (DotA) ranking in North America, as well multiple eSports World Cup USA DotA championships. An avid user of The Peregrine, Whisper shows in the videos how the glove allows users to instantly trigger over 30 in-game abilities literally with the touch of a finger, speeding up their response time while simultaneously offering a more comfortable and intuitive gaming experience.

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

“We unveiled The Peregrine to the world at E3 and the response was even better than we could have imagined,” said Brent Baier, inventor of the Peregrine. “We can’t wait to show it off to even more people with the first videos of the product in action, and our hands-on debut at PAX.”

“Everyone on The Peregrine team is on the edge of our seats waiting for the first gloves to roll off the assembly line, because we truly believe it will change the way people play games,” added Baier, CEO of Iron Will Innovations, the think tank founded to bring revolutionary products like The Peregrine to life. “What started more than five years ago as the dream of a starving engineering student is starting to truly take shape, and it’s exhilarating!”

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2nd September 2009

A2M To Develop New Screenlife Title

A2MSeattle and MontrealScreenlife is pleased to unveil the latest home console iteration of the bestselling Scene It?® brand. Scene It?® Bright Lights! Big Screen!™ will be the first videogame in the Scene It? franchise available for Wii™ and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems and marks a return for the brand to the Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system from Microsoft. Previous product success on the Xbox platform combined with casual gaming’s explosive growth create a tremendous opportunity for screenlifeScreenlife to bring its unique brand of entertainment trivia game play to millions of new consumers.

To be developed by Artificial Mind & Movement (A2M), Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen! offers a wide variety of media-rich trivia that provides movie fans and social gamers with a lively, competitive group gaming experience. Trivia content in the game will include recently released 2009 movies as well as fan favorite Hollywood hits from the last four decades. There are numerous game improvements, including:

* Thousands of new questions
* A new and improved single player option
* Party play modes
* Many new puzzle types
* 12 all-new player avatars
* A simplified game interface
* A new, very entertaining game host
* New, unique mini-game content

Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen! brings it all together and provides incredible fun for the whole family. Single-player mode challenges player speed and entertainment trivia know-how, while multi-player mode creates a challenging social gameplay experience.

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2nd September 2009

Funcom Montreal Opens Its Doors

FuncomMontréal Funcom is pleased to announce the establishment of a new development studio in Montréal, Canada, where it will build a strong and competent development team that will work on several games in the Funcom portfolio. Besides tapping into the excellent talent pool available in the region, Funcom will also move a certain number of key personnel over to the new studio.

“Montréal has established itself as one of the world’s most important locations for video game production, and we are looking forward to taking part in that success,” says Funcom CEO Trond Arne Aas. “In addition to strengthening our North American presence, the new studio will take advantage of the great incentive programs offered by the Québec region, incentives that makes Montréal one of the most cost effective locations in the world for developing MMO games. This will in turn allow us to better balance our costs, making it possible for us to continue to expand our investments into the MMO segment.”

Funcom is one of the most multi-cultural game developers in the business, with over 320 employees from all corners of the world employed at the company’s offices in Norway, the US, China, and Switzerland. The company is responsible for the best-selling MMO ‘Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures’ that shipped over 1.2 million copies to retail in 2008, as well as the pioneering sci-fi MMO ‘Anarchy Online’. The company has developed more than 20 titles since its founding in 1993; including the critically acclaimed ‘The Longest Journey’ and ‘Dreamfall’ adventure games. Funcom is currently working on the expansion pack for ‘Age of Conan’ called ‘Rise of the Godslayer’ as well as its new MMO ‘The Secret World’. Developers at the Montréal studio will play an important role in the development of both of these games.

“It has been a pleasure for us to work with Investissement Québec in setting up our Montréal studio and we are very thankful for the strong support they have given us throughout this process,” says Ole Schreiner, CEO of Funcom’s new Montréal studio. “We are excited about the opportunity that Montréal represents to our company, not only because of the great incentives offered by Québec, but also the authorities’ strong commitment to training qualified video games personnel and building a video games cluster in Montréal and Québec.”

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