Vancouver – It was a very busy week and weekend here on the west coast. Last Thursday evening was the Help Haiti Pub Night  which saw $6000.00 raised for to assist UNICEF’s Clean Water Initiative. Many thanks to all of the great sponsors and donors who helped make the silent auction and Pub Night a great success.
Congratulations to our Vancouver SIGGRAPH chapter  for a very successful Spark FX event. With the highest attendance ever, there was much for the hardworking crew to be happy about. The Avatar post-mortem sessions were so popular with attendees that a closed circuit broadcast was presented in the common area for those who could not get seats in the theatre. In attendance at this episode of Spark FX was a committee from the SIGGRAPH conference , and they were very happy with the event as well, according to Sly Provencher. As many of you are already aware, SIGGRAPH 2011 will be held in Vancouver – the first time this conference has ever been awarded to a city outside of the United States, and I am definitely looking forward to being able to attend this great conference on “home turf.” SIGGRAPH 2010 will be held at the Los Angeles Conference Centre this coming July 25-29.
This weekend was also Global Game Jam , and we checked in with the teams over at UBC on Sunday afternoon. There were some great ideas happening, and co-organizer Vidya Kotamraju said that “The jam went extremely well and we have been very pleased with the turnout and the games. We have not ranked any games as the main aim is to foster creative collaboration. We asked each of the teams to present their games and judges from a few local game companies critiqued them.” 
The majority of the participants were new to Global Game Jam, but there were a few veterans in attendance, including Brennan Massicotte and Miko Wilson. Several of the local digital media schools and programmes were represented, including BCIT, Emily Carr, SFU, UBC and Masters of Digital Media, as well as a few local studios including United Front Games and Propaganda Entertainment.
The organizers would like to thank this year’s sponsors for contributing to a very successful event, as well as mentors Andy Moore, Pat McGee, Victor Cameron and Brian Vidovic, and of course the local developers who came out to view and critique all of the games.
For this year’s Jam, the weekend developers were given the theme of Deception, which had to be worked into their game, along with key words punk, skunk and monk. There were some very creative ways which these were being worked into the games, including completely misleading the player and going against many of the “game mainstays” of how a gamer is lead through a level. Other challenges included making it possible to play the entire game in 5 minutes or less, using a maximum of 16 different colours including light and shading, using only sound effects which could be produced by the human body and several others. One other interesting fact to note is the increase in female participants this year, which more than doubled over last year’s event.
Vancouver had two Game Jam locations this year, but we unfortunately did not have time to visit the participants over at Vancouver Hacker Space, but you can check out all of the games here: UBC teams  – 8 games and Vancouver Hacker Space  – 1 game
We closed out our weekend at the 3D Animation Workshop which was held Sunday afternoon at the 221A Studios . I was invited to talk to the Workshop participants about Village Gamer, and while I’m not overly skilled at public speaking, the experience was enjoyable and another opportunity to meet people who work, teach and support our local interactive media industry. The 3D Animation Workshops are an informal platform for artists and other creatives to share experience and knowledge, and is hosted by the CG Movement  community.
Events for this week include the Women In Games Vancouver Networking Night on February 3rd, which is taking place in the Wine Room at Steamworks Brew Pub, starting at 7pm. Then on Thursday evening it’s the League of Kickass Business People  panel “Get in the Game: Gaming Isn’t Just For Gamers Anymore ” featuring panelists Steve Bocska, McElroy Flavelle, Victor Lucas, Mark Magnusson and Ian Clark, with moderator Eric Brooke. The aim of this panel is to investigate and discuss the many ways which gaming is revolutionizing your business and your world. Learn how gaming trends are shaping everything from customer experiences to community building, leadership training to team collaboration, simplified interfaces to communicating complexities – and how gaming’s impact will accelerate in the next decade.