14th August 2009

Points of Interest and Other Game News

CIPPICOttawaCIPPIC, the University of Ottawa’s Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic has launched a new site which is aimed at facilitating debate/action on digital issues. DigitalAgenda.ca is part of CIPPIC’s plan to play a more active role in the important issues that will come up from the Canadian government’s initiative to pursue a strategy aimed at restoring Canada’s leadership role in the global Digital Economy. As this initiative will involve comprehensive changes to a number of fields impacting on Canadians’ digital experience. It is Digital Agenda’s goal to provide a forum for information, discussion and action on such issues.

Game On FinanceTorontoInteractive Ontario (IO) today announced three new speakers for GameON: Finance 2009, happening October 27 and 28 in Toronto. These speakers are experts on key issues surrounding the business of games including funding, banking, and monetization.

Greg Short, Executive Director, EEDAR
With over ten years experience in developing community integrated data services for some of the largest massively multiplayer games available, Greg Short is one of the world’s leading experts in maximizing the acquisition, retention and monetization of gaming communities.

Erik Robertson Managing Director, Nordic Game Program
Erik Robertson is the Managing Director of the Nordic Game Program. Its mission is to ensure access to quality Nordic computer games for children and young people.

Alec Dafferner, Partner, GP Bullhound, Technology Investment Banking

Alec Dafferner is a Partner and Head of GP Bullhound’s San Francisco office. With over ten years of technology investment banking experience, Alec has executed over 40 transactions for emerging growth companies in the U.S. and abroad, raising over $10 billion in capital and advising on over $2.5 billion in mergers and acquisitions.

IUGOVancouver – As announced earlier this week, IUGO Mobile Entertainment has pulled A.D.D. Lite from the iTunes App Store. Here’s hoping that Apple gets its stuff together and either moves titles through approval faster or hires some more testing staff to catch up on the backlog.

Scotland – Brenda and Eli have landed safely in Ayr, Scotland after their transatlantic flight from Vancouver. They will be visiting with friends and relatives over there, before Brenda flies home on a commercial flight while Eli returns in the Cessna.

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12th August 2009

Montreal International Game Summit Announces 2009 Keynote Speakers

MIGS 2009MontrealMontreal International Game Summit (MIGS) has officially revealed the five headline speakers who will address the more than 1,500 attendees expected at the sixth edition of the popular industry event. Yoichi Wada, President and CEO, Square Enix, Paul Holden, Lead Architect, Media Molecule, Jason Holtman, Director of Business Development, Valve, Heather Chaplin, Author and Chris Hecker, Technology Fellow, Maxis/EA will be at the Hilton Bonaventure Hotel on November 16 and 17 in Montreal.

The official keynote speakers include:

Yoichi Wada is President and CEO of the Square Enix Group, which has the corporate philosophy: to spread happiness across the globe by providing unforgettable experiences. During his conference, Mr. Wada will share the steps the group has taken in order to build a new, group-wide game development environment in an effort to make full use of the unique individual characteristics of its three core brands – Square Enix, Taito and Eidos and will share his vision of the future of video game development.

Paul Holden is Lead Architect at British-based studio Media Molecule. Developers of the breakout 2008 hit, Little Big Planet, Media Molecule’s Holden will speak about the unique challenges company encountered in developing LBP and its strategy to leverage user-generated content to its fullest.

Jason Holtman is Director of Business Development for Valve. Among other things, Holtman manages the distribution of Steam, an online platform enabling more than 15 million gamers to access hundreds of games, and video game development via the Source engine.
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11th August 2009

Interactive Ontario Adds Canadian Dimension to Edinburgh Interactive

Interactive OntarioOntarioInteractive Ontario (IO) in partnership with the Ontario International Marketing Centre (OIMC) will be heading over to Scotland to team up with Edinburgh Interactive at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange on 13th & 14th August 2009. Representing over 200 companies capybarawithin the Ontario interactive digital content industry, IO will be joined by Capybara Games, who are set to showcase two soon-to-be-released titles.

As a non-profit trade association committed to the growth of Ontario’s Digital Media/Video Game industry, IO represents content producers and distributors, as well as stakeholders from a range of industry sectors including e-Learning, games, mobile, television, online, social media, marketing and academia. The Ontario International Marketing Centre, based in London, UK, facilitates trade and investment between the UK and Ontario.

Critter Crunch PSN

Critter Crunch PSN

Joining IO at Edinburgh Interactive this year will be IO member Capybara Games. Starting out as an award-winning mobile games developer, Capybara Games have since successfully branched out into the development of iPhone, Nintendo DS and downloadable console games. Capybara Games is an independent games studio from Canada’s fastest growing hub of video game production.

Capybara Games will be showcasing two soon-to-be-released titles at Edinburgh Interactive this year; Critter Crunch and Ubisoft’s Might & Magic Clash of Heroes. Critter Crunch is set in a magical place filled with cute, colourful critters frolicking in the sun, smelling the flowers and eating each other! Winner of the 2008 IGF Mobile Best Games & Achievement in Audio Awards and IGN Wireless 2007 Best Puzzle Games & Biggest Surprise Game Awards, Critter Crunch is a PlayStation® Network arcade-puzzler, and will be released later this year.
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11th August 2009

ProTech Media To Expand With Three More Learning Centres

TorontoToronto – Together with Toronto Mayor David Miller, Microsoft Canada has announced the expansion of the successful ProTech Media Centre program to three Priority Neighbourhoods for Investment. “This is a perfect example of private and public-sector partners coming together to provide innovative opportunities in Toronto’s Priority Neighbourhoods,” said Mayor Miller. “It’s especially important that local youth have been involved in this project from the start, and that many more youth will pass through these doors. The creative possibilities and career benefits provided by ProTech are boundless.” The ProTechannouncement was made at the opening of the Kennedy-Eglinton ProTech Media Centre, located within the Toronto Public Library – Kennedy/Eglinton branch at 2380 Eglinton Avenue East.

The Pro Tech program offers free digital arts and technology skills training. The expansion effort is made possible by a Microsoft Canada Unlimited Potential Community Technology Skills grant of $1 million in cash, digital learning curriculum and Microsoft-based technology. “The overwhelming success of the Rexdale ProTech Media Centre in Jamestown is motivating Microsoft Canada, the City of Toronto and community partners to expand the program to three additional neighbourhoods,” said Eric Gales, President, Microsoft Canada. “Today’s youth incorporate technology into every part of their daily lives. By providing access to technology and education we’re feeding their curiosity and creativity with the hope of generating interest in pursuing careers in technology related fields.” The City of Toronto is also supporting the program through its Partnership Opportunities Legacy Fund, which has set aside $13 million for Toronto’s 13 Priority Neighbourhoods for Investment, to be leveraged by funding from outside partners for youth-focused social and recreational infrastructure projects.
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10th August 2009

Zombies In Vancouver and Other Events

Zombie Walk VancouverVancouver – The Zombie Walk has returned to the city. Taking place this weekend on August 15th, those who thirst for brains will be gathering on the north side of the Vancouver Art Gallery at Hornby and West Georgia. The zombies will begin gathering at 2pm, with the walk beginning at 3pm and lasting until 5pm. At this point in time, the route to be taken by the zombies has not been revealed, but you can find out more information on the Zombie Walk Vancouver’s Event Page on Facebook.  Thrill the World Vancouver will also be participating in the Zombie walk; this group is part of the worldwide Thriller dance event. Last year Thrill the World Vancouver raised over $1400.00 for the Vancouver Food Bank during their event which was held at Kits Beach. This year’s Thrill the World dance event will be held at 5:30pm on October 24th. This year reinforcements from across the water will be arriving via BC Ferry from the Sunshine Coast, where a new zombie colony was formed in July.

Toronto’s IGDA Chapter will be hosting a moderated discussion session on iPhone Game igdaDevelopment this Thursday night. The meeting, which will take place at Metro Hall Room 313, will consist of several short presentations from local developers, followed by a discussion moderated by Owen Goss, from Streaming Colour Studios. Presentations will be given by:

Jason MacIsaac and Keith Makse from Cerebral Vortex Games
Dave Wood from Cerebral Gardens
Harry Mack, Audio Designer

The session opens at 7pm, and will be followed by a social mixer at the Elephant & Castle’s back room.

BCTIA has several Vancouver events coming up, open to members, non-members and students. First up BCTIAis their TechForum on Financing Tech in the Wake of an Economic Crisis, taking place on September 10 at the Sutton Place Hotel. Guest speaker for this seminar will be Doug Irwin, a founding partner of Capital West Partners. As an experienced investment and financing thought-leader, Doug will guide you through the opportunities and pitfalls of the current investment climate.

This will be followed by the annual CTO Roundtable, where BCTIA member CTOs meet to discuss this year’s hottest issues and pressing concerns. This discussion will identify the full slate of topics for the upcoming year of roundtable sessions offered by the CTO Peer Group. Last year topics ranged from technology management to talent strategy. Your input is needed for this year’s lineup. For more information on these and other upcoming BCTIA events, please see their Events Page.

BCITIf you are a student considering a variety of career paths in the IT field, don’t forget about the BCIT technology course Info Sessions taking place on August 19th and 26th at BCIT’s downtown campus. The BCIT Aerospace programme had an awesome display out at the Abbotsford Airshow this weekend.digital alberta

Digital Alberta is subsidizing a delegation of Alberta gaming companies to attend GDC Austin which takes place September 15 – 18th.  If your company is interested in participating and receiving funding to do so, please email Rene Smid to request an application form by August 21, 2009.

For the first time ever, FITC comes to Edmonton for a 2 day festival with some of the most well known FITCFlash designers and developers from around the globe.  Taking place at the NAIT, Shaw Theatre on October 17 & 18th, attendees will experience two solidly packed days of presentations. Topics covered will be both technical and creative, with presenters from around the world who have been hand-picked for their skill and talent, and all are eager to share and meet you. Flash Designers. Flash Developers. Motion Graphic Artists. Digital Artists. Students. Anyone in or having an interest in Flash and digital Game On Financemedia should be at this event.

Also, a reminder that registration for GameOn Finance 2009 is open. GameOn Finance is taking place this October 27 and 28th in Toronto.

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3rd August 2009

Coffee Break News For August 3rd

Thank you to my friends, readers and colleagues for the many notes of condolence and support after the passing of my Grandmother, they are all greatly appreciated – as is your patience while I try to get back up to speed on thought processes and writing. Thanks to Scott’s place of employ, we were able to enjoy a nice distraction Friday evening with box seats at the Opening Ceremonies for the 2009 World Police and Fire Games at GM Place. The Opening Ceremonies were extremely well done and very entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the drumming and cultural dancers at the official start of the ceremony. All of the athletic events which are taking place around the Lower Mainland are free to attend, great family events, and if you get the chance I highly recommend them. The schedule of events can be found on the official web site.

For those who haven’t had enough of the recently-ended Toronto garbage strike and the mess in the city’s parks, check Q-kmbr Gamesout Q-kmbr’s free browser game, Trash Wars. Game play involves keeping the rats from taking over a garbage dump by shooting them. You have unlimited ammo and three available upgrades for your gun.

Fuel Games has released their latest mobile game for the iPhone and iTouch. Lifeboat’s gameplay has Fuel Gamesplayers frantically fighting to save passengers as they topple overboard from a rapidly sinking ship. It’s the player’s task to tilt them into the available lifeboats and try to save as many as possible. If passengers fall in the ocean, players will need to tap them to bring them back onto the boat before they drown, or worse, become shark bait.Lifeboat

Saving passengers will net players cash, which can be used to upgrade the experience for quicker controls, sturdier ballasts, and swimming lessons for the passengers. The game also makes use of OS 3.0’s customizable music feature, allowing players to play god to rhythms of their choosing.

Featuring both accelerometer and touch-driven casual gameplay, along with humorous original voice acting and incredible 3D visuals, Lifeboat is now live on the App Store at a limited introductory price of 99 cents.

IUGOVancouver’s IUGO Mobile Entertainment has also just announced a new iPhone – iTouch title from the Toy Bots universe Thief Bot, the greedy kleptomaniac, has Spy Bot Chronicleskidnapped Toy Bot, and plans to use him as a shiny, golden trophy. Enter Spy Bot, the only one who can rescue him! Take control of Spy Bot as he jumps, shoots, and hacks his way through a varied 2D world of fun and adventure. Find Thief Bot’s hideout, save Toy Bot, and recover all the other stolen goods Thief Bot has swindled throughout the galaxy!

Features Include:

* Innovative hack ability allows Spy Bot to change the world around him
*4 different zones (content is equivilant to TBD 1,2,3 COMBINED)
*Hidden levels to find
*35 unique collectibles
*Over half a dozen characterful enemies
*Distinct music for each zone and major challenges
*Interactive animation and art

IUGO’s latest release, Star Hogs is currently available for an introductory price of 99 cents (USD) in the Star HogsApp Store. Rig up your hogs, strap yourself in, and head out into orbit for the fiercest turn-based battles this side of Uranus. Obliterate the competition with a Cruise Missile or close in for some potshots from your Vulcan gun. Not your style? Don’t worry, you’ve got more than 20 ways to kill someone. Nuke some asteroids for an extra payday, but remember, they’re the only thing protecting you from a re-entry hangover you won’t wake up from. Take out some chumps and unlock heaps of new gear in 32 campaign levels, or ride into the online arena to face curly tails from all over the universe. But remember, in space no one can hear you squeal.

Features Include:

* 32 levels for hours of gameplay
* Loads of weapons and customization options
* Global online leaderboards
* 3 game play modes: Freeplay, Campaign and Multiplayer mode
* Gorgeous 3D graphics
* Elegant, intuitive HUD and UI

Upcoming Event Reminders:

Society of Graphic Designers of CanadaThe BC Chapter of the Graphic Designers of Canada will be holding their annual free barbeque in partnership with New Media BC, Canadian Association of Photographers and Illustrators in Communications, National Advertising Benevolent Society, and the British Columbia Industrial Design Association. Members of these participating associations are encouraged to RSVP for this event, which will be featuring burgers, socializing, games and more for the whole family at Trout Lake Park in Vancouver on August 27.

BCIC has announced that tickets are now on sale for Connect 09, which takes place on October 19th in Vancouver. Early bird pricing is in effect until August 28th, and every early bird ticket offers a chance to win one of two seats in the Strategic Sales Leadership course offered by the Sauder School of Business. Tickets purchased before August 28th are $40.00 each, after August 28th the price increases to $50.00. Internationally recognized technology entrepreneur, venture capitalist and best-selling author Leonard Brody will be presenting a featured keynote, and there will also be a showcase of many “must-see” technologies developed at several BC academic institutions. Tickets also include the BCIC Awards and a stand-up buffet.

Just a reminder that if your Canadian organization, school or studio has news, we’ll be happy to post it on Village Gamer for you, all you need to do is send in the information to news.at.villagegamer.net

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29th July 2009

An Audio Guy’s Perspective of Casual Connect Seattle 2009

After 4 days of seminars and networking events, I was beat. But, boy was it worth it.

Day 1

The first day was devoted almost entirely to the Casual Connect Leadership Conference organized and supported by Women In Games International (WIGI) and Women In Games Vancouver (WIGeh). Numerous speakers presented a variety of topics, each with a particular interest in the role that women play in games, games play in the lives of women, and the portrayal of women in games.

As a person interested in the breakdown of stereotypes, thus allowing everyone’s true potential to shine, I was very engaged in the presentations of the day, which in the end left me feeling very hopeful and empowered about the potential of gaming.

Not long after, a set of roundtable discussions were set up with a variety of topics ranging from working as a contract vs employed worker, owning a small business, and moving up in the games industry.

A networking event followed with the inclusion of other folks from a more general Casual Connect audience, and it was a great night!

Highlight of my day: Megan Gaiser of Her Interactive’s presentation on “The Importance of Leadership”

Day 2 (Day 1 of Casual Connect officially)

Audio day! The entire day had an option to hear speakers who are professionals in the audio for casual games environment. Great ideas were shared including a glimpse into how other professionals create their sound design assets. It was entertaining, welcoming, and I learned a great deal. Speakers covered a wide range of aspects including the creation of stings, sfx, composition, recording, and producing. I would recommend this to any person interested in the audio for casual games arena. A very cohesive day in the audio stream.

Highlight of my day: Barry Dowsett of Sound Rangers on “The Birth and Life of a Sound Effect”
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14th July 2009

Arts Community Extremely Concerned By Cuts To The BC Arts Council

Alliance For Arts and CultureVancouver via Alliance For Arts – The arts and cultural sector in British Columbia is facing an imminent crisis. The Service Plans for the next two years show a 40% reduction in funding for the BC Arts Council. The BC Arts Council is the largest funding body in the province; last year, more than 224 communities throughout British Columbia depended on it for support.

“The impact to the province will be devastating,” said Amir Ali Alibhai, the Executive Director of the Alliance for Arts & Culture. “The BC Arts Council supports a sector that employs 80,000 people and generates $5.2-billion annually. It is bigger than the forestry and fishing industries combined. At a time when the government is doing everything they can to create and retain jobs, why are they implementing measures that will trigger layoffs and cause organizations to reduce programming?”

According to Ministry’s own research, for every dollar invested in the arts, the province gets back $1.38 in taxes. There are also countless studies that show that arts and culture creates healthy communities, enhances education, and helps to shape our cultural identity.
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14th July 2009

Digital Springboard Mentorship Call For Entries

New Media BCVancouver via NMBC – Emerging Digital Media companies are invited to submit their company profiles and proposals for the DIGITAL SPRINGBOARD, an advisory service and mentorship program being administered by New Media BC and supported by the National Research Council – IRAP.

If you are an emerging Canadian digital media company looking for a mentor to help you navigate a technical or business related challenge, please submit your proposal to Christine Lim-Labossiere, New Media BC’s Manager, Industry Development and International Partnerships by July 28, 2009.

Your proposal should include:

1. Company profile including track record and key staff (maximum 1 page),
2. Company business goals/current Projects in development (maximum 1 page),
3. Specific challenges/difficulties currently faced by company in development process or project that you require Mentorship guidance on. Please specify if it is a technical or business problem and the quantifiable targets and deliverables to be completed within a minimum period of 4 months (maximum 1 page),
4. Show reel or sample of work, if relevant (send to New Media BC, #102-577 Great Northern Way, Vancouver, BC V5T 1E1 Attention: DIGITAL SPRINGBOARD).

The DIGITAL SPRINGBOARD allows at least 6 selected companies to be matched with veteran experts in the digital media industry who will act as Mentors and provide an advisory service to these companies for a minimum period of 4 months and help them achieve their specific business/technical goals.

Eligible companies include those engaged in interactive entertainment (games), interactive design and marketing, digital animation/film and mobile content. Mentors will be identified based on the specific business goals and technical targets and will guide the companies through the challenges they are facing in their early stage of development.

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6th July 2009

Unity 3D Users Group Launches Vancouver Chapter

Unity Users GroupVancouver – The new Vancouver Unity 3D Users Group is celebrating their official launch with a TGIF Networking Event on Friday July 24 at District 319 on Main Street.

dimeRocker.com in partnership with Unity Technologies invites all local game, web, and iPhone developers to a premiere industry Unity Networking TGIF followed the next day by a Unity Skills Workshop.

The entire initiative will be framed within a “web-ready” context, exploring how tools like Unity 3D in combination with a new breed of social gaming hives are enabling developers to create, market, and monetize console-like browser content for a growing audience of online and mobile gamers.

TGIF Schedule:

5:30pm – 6:30pm    Reception, drinks and appetizers
6:30pm – 7:30pm    Key Note followed by Q&A with Tom Higgins (Unity Evangelist, San Francisco)
7:30pm – 9:00pm+  Networking Social

Admission is $20 and includes a free drink, eats and chance to win a Unity 3D License.

The Unity Skills Workshop will be taking place on Saturday July 25 at Centre for Digital Media with Dmitry Shtainer (Unity Stealth Engineer, Vancouver). The workshop will be a day-long Unity 3D skills development event,  intended for students and professionals alike. Workshop curriculum and registration information have not yet been announced, but TGIF registrants will receive advanced email notification for the event.

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