Vancouver – Bill Mooney, a Vice President at Zynga and General Manager of FarmVille will deliver a keynote address at the 2010 Game Developers Conference™ Canada  (GDC Canada). Additionally, a new set of featured speakers  has been announced for the upcoming conference, which will address several key focal points for the event, including new distribution models, developing new global titles, and managing established franchises. Attendees will gain insights into new business opportunities with sessions addressing iPhone Games, Digital Distribution and Social Games alongside tracks focused on best practices in Game Design, Business/Production and Programming.
GDC Canada will return for a second year to the Vancouver Convention Centre in Vancouver, BC from May 6-7, 2010. The Game Career Seminar also returns to GDC Canada as a one-day event for students and individuals who want to break into the videogame industry. GDC Canada is presented by Reboot Communications and UBM TechWeb Game Network, the organizers of the industry-leading Game Developers Conference. Early registration  discounts end tomorrow, Wednesday, March 31st.
A veteran game developer from such major game publishers as Activision and LucasArts, Bill Mooney joined San Francisco-based social games developer Zynga in 2008 and quickly became a Vice President at Zynga and GM of FarmVille. Mooney’s experience extends beyond the realm of videogame development, having worked for 5 years as a trial lawyer, as well as stints writing for television programs, both animation and live-action. At Zynga, Mooney helped develop the wildly popular Mafia Wars and FarmVille titles, helping to establish both franchises as pioneering social games.
Mooney’s keynote, entitled, “Building Social Games: Games at the Speed of Light,” will touch on the development of FarmVille and Mafia Wars, and the growing popularity and fanbase that has quickly ballooned to over 85 million active users. Attendees will walk away with a deeper understanding of the rapidly evolving social gaming space and where it is poised to go, and with insight into viral propagation across the world, the low barriers to entry which create agile competition, and the rapidly changing and imperfectly understood marketplace.
“Bill’s keynote is a perfect fit for GDC Canada,” said Izora de Lillard, event director. “Zynga is at the forefront of an exciting gaming space, and the over 85 million players of FarmVille and Mafia Wars can attest to the future prospects of this genre. Mooney’s keynote illustrates the need for continued industry innovation that not only applies to the social gaming space but to the traditional gamer experience as well. GDC Canada will be a great opportunity to learn more about these trends along with how this thinking applies to the core tenets of game development.”
GDC Canada features a roster of speakers that are on the front lines of the technical innovation and business strategies needed to lead their studios to continued success. These featured speakers include:
— Jason Bailey, GM of Virtual Currencies, Adknowledge
Session: Social Games – 85 Million Farmers Can’t All Be Wrong
— Sinjin Bain, V.P. EAP – Worldwide Biz Dev, Electronic Arts
Session: Ask The Decision Makers -Find Out What Publishers Want and How to Get What You Want
— Stephen Hill, 3D Technical Lead, Ubisoft
Session: Rendering with Conviction
— Feargus Urquhart, CEO, Obsidian Entertainment
Session: Contract Negotiations
— Jeremy Walker, Senior Tools Programmer, Ubisoft
Session: Reflection for Tools Development
In addition to all of the conference’s editorial content, GDC Canada features an expo hall and a host of evening networking events.
Toronto – Get Set Games , the makers of iPhone/iTouch games Addicus  and PopTweets , have announced the launch of a companion site for PopTweets. According to the launch information, PopTweets.net  gives you the Poptweets experience in your PC’s browser. “You can track the tweets of all the hottest celebrities on Twitter, discover heavy hitters that you might not have heard of yet and interact with them,” writes Derek van Vliet, one of GetSet Games’ coders. “One word you’ll see all over the site is “Iconic”. This is a measure of how recognizable a celebrity’s tweets are according to the players of the PopTweets game, which means that the game’s players are driving the site content.”
The second mobile title for the new Toronto studio is “a curiously additive celebrity trivia game featuring constantly updated tweets from Twitter. The gameplay is simple: just match the tweet to the celebrity before your time runs out.”
PopTweets  also allows players to follow someone, suggest an addition to the game, as well as retweet from within the game’s environment. PopTweets gameplay involves chaining “correct answers together to increase your multiplier and try for over 50 achievements – lose three hearts in a row though, and it’s game over.” This game is a must-have for pop culture fans, and is available now in the iTunes App Store along with GetSet Games’ debut title, Addicus  and Addicus Free Version . Thank you to Ryan over at Untold Entertainment  for letting me know about Get Set Games.
Burnaby – What if you could kick the winning goal that gives your favorite team a spot in the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Finals? What if you could change the outcome of the final match? Now you can. Electronic Arts Inc.  and Coca-Cola Zero™ are teaming up to launch a free* online service called The Coca-Cola Zero Story of the Finals for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa ™ videogame from EA Sports ™. The feature will enable gamers to relive crucial moments from the actual tournament hours after games have been played. The free service from EA Sports will be available for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system.
“This is an ambitious and completely unique feature that has never before been attempted for soccer videogames,” said Executive Producer Kaz Makita. “The hopes and dreams of nations will rise and fall throughout the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final and within hours after the real matches have occurred our development team will re-create the storylines in our game and provide fans the opportunity to replay and, perhaps, change the outcome – virtually.”
The Coca-Cola Zero Story of the Finals will enable gamers connected online to play real matches from the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final and face the same challenges their heroes experienced throughout the tournament. The free service complements an existing game mode called The Coca-Cola Zero Story of Qualifying which enables gamers to relive moments from the 2010 qualifying campaign and the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ Finals through over 50 scenario-based challenges.
“Just like Coke Zero made the impossible possible by offering real Coke taste with zero calories, the Coca-Cola Zero Story of the Finals empowers people to become part of the game and virtually rewrite sports history,” said Scott Cuppari, Manager, Media and Interactive, Coca-Cola North America. “Through our partnership with EA Sports and their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa game, we’re offering new, innovative videogame content that delivers a rich experience to gamers and soccer enthusiasts.”
Vancouver – The Vancouver Film School  has just announced that it will be going on a little road trip . Representatives from the school will be visiting Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal before returning home for an event in Vancouver. According to the VFS blog , the Roadshow will offer “an inside look at how VFS prepares students for the kind of successes we’ve seen recently from our alumni, from contributing to 9 of the 10 highest grossing films of 2009 – including Avatar, Up, and Star Trek – to designing the signature visuals of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, and serving in key roles on huge game releases like Mass Effect 2.”
Gatineau – The Canadian Museum of Civilization  today became the first museum in the world to introduce a BlackBerry application for access to its audioguides and other Museum information. This follows on a similar first for an application accessible to iPhone and iPod Touch in December 2009.
Owners of these popular handheld devices now can obtain one-stop access to Museum information from anywhere in the world. They can plan a visit to the Museum by accessing interactive floor maps, a calendar of events and information about hours of operation, admission fees and public services.
“The Museum is constantly looking for innovative ways to broaden its audience and reach people in Canada and around the world,” said Dr. Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “We are delighted to be the first Museum in the world to provide this progressive and convenient technology to the public. The Canadian Museum of Civilization strives to preserve Canadian heritage and to share our country’s fabulous story with Canadians and the world.”
The Museum of Civilization’s Mobile Application for BlackBerry Bold 9700, developed in partnership with Tristan Interactive of Ottawa, is now available for free on BlackBerry App World in both official languages. “Tristan’s support for the BlackBerry – the North American smartphone market leader – now allows millions of BlackBerry users the best access to Museum multimedia. Tristan is proud to be the first in the world to build this technology,” said Chris McLaren, CEO of Tristan Interactive Inc.
In addition to automatic updates about new Museum programs and exhibitions, two audioguides, which were previously accessible only on Museum-supplied headsets, are now available on these personal handheld devices. Visitors can use their mobile devices to visit two of the Museum’s largest and most popular exhibition galleries. At the touch of a button, BlackBerry owners have access to Canada Hall, which relays the history of Canada from year 1000 to the present and the First Peoples Hall, which shares with listeners how Canada’s First Peoples shaped our country as we now know it. In essence, the history of the foundation of Canada is brought to Canadians and the world through this new application.
Ottawa – For the first time ever, IT professionals can jump into the world of Cyber Warfare where they can experience the effects of cyber attacks in real time in a live Cyber Warfare battlefield environment. They can see actual deception and defensive measures deployed that defeat or deter attackers. You have heard the phrase tarpit and honeypot, see what happens when you fall prey to one; you will also see how systems and infrastructures like the ones that you routinely deploy and maintain are attacked and defeated with relative ease.
Hosted by partner CompuEase Learning Systems Inc. , Defilaide  brings you the Cyber Warfare Roadshow , free one day events where you can see Cyber attacks in real time. This is an event we’d really like to see out here on the west coast, and I hope that a date will be announced soon for the Vancouver area – please see the Roadshow schedule  for announced cities and dates. Having extensive experience  in dealing with attacks and seeing the perpetrator prosecuted and jailed in the USA, we enjoy meeting with cyber security professionals and keeping up on what’s happening in this field.
If you are in the field of information technology, this event is for you. “This event will be a tremendous benefit to IT managers and security professionals alike, since they are not able to experience a real cyber attack nor are they able to test these attacks on their network. We are re-engineering the traditional training methodology in all aspects to include less structured, less controlled, reality-based training scenarios adhering to a military standard that closely simulates real world conditions and, we are preparing the next wave of security professionals for the new paradigm of security exploits, cyber warfare attacks.” said Jeffery Dee, Director of Professional Services at Defilaide.
Vancouver/Montreal – Yellow Media Inc.  (“YPG”) has announced that a definitive agreement has been reached in acquiring Canadian Phone Directories Holdings Inc.  (“Canpages”) from an investor group led by private equity firm HM Capital Partners for a purchase price consideration of approximately $225M.
“The acquisition of Canpages will accelerate our business transformation to the digital world,” said Marc P. Tellier, Chief Executive Officer, Yellow Pages Group. “Canpages has built a strong local search business and we are pleased with the prospects of joining forces. It will give us the opportunity to expand our sales force, online capabilities and customer offerings.”
Headquartered in Vancouver, Canpages publishes 84 directories for a total circulation of approximately 8 million copies. The company’s website, Canpages.ca, attracts more than 3.5 million unique visitors each month. Canpages generates annualized revenues of $110M with an online contribution of approximately 23%. The Company employs about 700 people in Canada of which more than 450 are sales consultants.
“Combining with Yellow Pages Group will enable Canpages to provide a stronger digital value proposition to advertisers” said Oliver Vincent, Chief Executive Officer, Canpages. “I am confident that bringing together two experienced players in the local search industry will benefit both consumers and Canadian businesses.”
Following the close of the transaction, YPG will continue to publish the Canpages print directories in the normal course of business. Advertisers can be confident in maintaining their current advertising program with Canpages.
In addition to the Canpages acquisition, YPG announced the contribution of its U.S. directory operations, YPG Directories, LLC, publisher of Your Community Phone Book (“YCB”), to Ziplocal, LP. YCB is the publisher of independent directories in selected Mid-Atlantic and Southeast American markets and was acquired from Volt Information Sciences, Inc. in September 2008. Ziplocal is a leader in providing an innovative source of information for the businesses and communities it serves. The company operates ziplocal.com, and once the two entities merge, Ziplocal will reach over 300 markets across the United States.
“We are excited about acquiring YCB, a company that provides top-quality local search services,” added Vincent, who is currently and will remain the Chief Executive Officer of Ziplocal. “We welcome YCB’s outstanding team to the Ziplocal family and look forward to working with them to provide their customers the full breadth of local search options – print, online and mobile.”
“We want to thank the team at YCB for their commitment to delivering solid results,” added Tellier. We have found a great platform and partner for them to grow within the U.S. directory industry. The combined business will have increased scale to meaningfully invest in digital product innovation.”
Peter Brodsky, a Partner at HM Capital Partners, said: “Canpages has been a successful investment for our firm and the business is well positioned for significant future growth as part of YPG’s platform. We are excited about our new partnership in the U.S. with YPG in Ziplocal.”
YPG will continue to fully own and operate its information technology platform and centers of excellence located in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania and Indianapolis, Indiana.