10th September 2009

News From Wired Woman

Wired WomanVancouverWired Woman is pleased to present a series of four Professional Development Workshops featuring Heather White. These seminars are designed to assist you with such areas as assigning action steps to goals, defining the skills that will set you apart, gain a clear vision about your professional reputation and understand the power of a professional network. Tickets to the entire series are currently available for the special rate of $50.00 each for members and $65.00 for non-members. Members can also save even more with a four-for-three package at a cost of $150.00.  The seminars will be held at Campo Verde, 1600 Cypress Street in Vancouver.  Seating is limited, so register soon.

Seminar Topics:

Personal Professional Goal Setting – Tuesday, October 6th 2009 6:00 pm
Building a Powerful Professional Network – Tuesday, October 20th, 2009 6:00 pm
Developing a Specialized Skill Set – Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 6:00 pm
Developing a Bullet Proof Reputation – Tuesday, December 1st, 2009, 6:00 pm

Wired Woman also held its Annual General Meeting on August 31, and the Network is pleased to announce the addition of five new directors to our National Board:

– Maureen McKinnon
– Doneen Swart
– Mojgan Fay
– Dina Grskovich
– Karen Olsson

Membership for Wired Woman is free, and with so many great events such as the Professional Development Series, it makes sense to join the network and meet some really great women while having fun, socializing and learning. To learn more about Wired Woman, please visit their web site.

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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.

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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.

1978
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.

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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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1st September 2009

Spark Animation Festival Updates

Siggraph VancouverVancouverSpark Animation has unveiled the opening night screening for its upcoming Animation Festival which takes place this September 16 – 20 at the VanCity Theatre. The Secret of Kells, which is an animated story of the boy behind the famed Book of Kells, will be the first film to be screened following the Festival’s opening night Industry Mixer. The film’s writer and co-director Tomm Moore will be presenting a session on the afternoon of September 17, but the topic has not yet been announced.

Confirmed speakers and sessions for Spark Animation include:

Coraline: The Changing Face of Animation
with Martin Meunier
The Making of 9
Session Topic TBA – Tomm Moore (Secret of Kells)
Session Topic TBA – Conrad Vernon & David Burgess (Monsters vs. Aliens)

Confirmed Films for the Festival thus far include Secret of Kells, Iron Giant, Mary and Max, $9.99 and The Best of SIGGRAPH 2009.

There are many more speaker sessions and films yet to be announced for Spark Animation, so be sure to check their site often, or sign up for the newsletter.

This year’s Spark Animation sponsors and supporters are:

BC Innovation Council, BC Film, Vancouver Economic Development, AnnexPro, nvidia, Rainmaker, Propaganda Games, 3Vis and Association Friends include Women In Games Vancouver, Casual Games Association, Visual Effects Association of BC, Society of Graphic Designers Canada – BC Chapter .

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29th August 2009

Saturday Snapshots

Fair Copyright CanadaVancouver – The next Fair Copyright for Canada – Vancouver Chapter meeting will take place on September 2 at SFU Harbour Centre Room 2245 at 6:30pm. The Federal Government’s consultation process will be coming to an end on September 13, and if you haven’t had your say, please make sure your opinions are heard.

Michael Geist’s report on the latest Toronto consultation meeting doesn’t show a heavy involvement from the interactive media industry. He states that “Tonight the government held its second copyright town hall.  Only it wasn’t really a copyright townhall in the sense of bringing the community together to talk copyright in an open and balanced manner.  Instead, the music industry stacked the room to such a degree that little else was discussed.  There was the odd intervention from ACTRA, the Writers Guild, the education community, and software developers (and a self-professed pirate who may have worn a fair copyright shirt but did not discuss anything that resembled fair copyright), but the repeated music industry representation was the dominant theme of the night…”  You can read the rest of Michael’s report on his site.

Eidos MontrealMontrealEidos Montréal’s General Manager Stéphane D’Astous has put out the call for a new PR agency who can handle a national campaign for their upcoming titles Deux Es 3, Thief 4 and beyond. It is at a time like this that I wished I still worked in the industry, because I’ve found the creativity and originality required in the PR fields to have contributed to the best job positions I’ve ever held. The Montréal studio is also looking for people to fill a few job openings, including those of Senior Special Effects Artist and Programmers for Thief 4.

VancouverWired Woman Network has partnered with Kontent Creative Group for a session on Wired WomanCreating Interactive Brand Stories this September 1. Wired Woman members will received a 20% discount on register for the seminar, which will look at examples of brand storytelling, identify what others stories are and how they are using the online space and social media to tell their brand’s story and engage with their audience. Just like the stories online, this workshop will be interactive and we will be doing some story building of our own. Please see the Wired Woman event page for further event and registration information.

CalgaryAutodesk has joined WorldSkills Calgary 2009 as a Platinum Sponsor and the Presenting Sponsor of the Mechanical Engineering Design (MED) competition. Autodesk’s sponsorship of WorldSkills World Skills CalgaryCalgary 2009 compliments its status as a Global Industry Partner of WorldSkills International and further cements its ongoing support of the WorldSkills Movement since 2007.

“Autodesk is proud to be a sponsor of this very important educational undertaking,” said Joe Astroth, PhD, Autodesk Vice President, Learning and Education. “Being an integral part of WorldSkills Calgary 2009 represents a significant opportunity for Autodesk to inspire the next generation of architects, engineers and digital artists. We are confident the knowledge and experiences students gain using our software will prepare them to meet the demands they will encounter in the workplace.”

Autodesk’s role as a Presenting Sponsor of the MED competition also includes participation as a sponsor of the Polymechanics/Automation, CNC Milling competitions, Plumbing/Heating, Electrical Installations, Industrial Control and Joinery Competitions. As part of its sponsorship, Autodesk will provide its Inventor®, Maya® and AutoCAD® software for use by Competitors. It is through these seven competitions covering multiple disciplines that Autodesk is hoping to inspire students to develop their skill sets. Autodesk’s software used in the 40th WorldSkills Competition will be donated to Alberta schools, benefiting students across the province. For more information on Autodesk products, please visit our local premier Autodesk representatives and local event supporters at Annex Pro.

Washington Interactive NetworkSeattle – For those interested in what’s happening across the border, enterpriseSeattle’s Washington Interactive Network will convene its 3rd annual Power of Play Economic Update Lunch. A panel of industry executives will explore the state of Washington state’s $4.2 billion Interactive Media Industry, the economy, and the Pacific Northwest region’s competitiveness compared with others in the US and Canada.

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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

New Media Employment News

Toronto’s Recruiting Now, a recruitment firm specializing in placement of senior and executive media, Recruiting Nowmarketing and IT professionals, has partnered with Media Job Search Canada, a Canadian job search web site dedicated solely to the needs of marketing and media professionals and their employers. These two companies will join forces to assist their clients in finding the perfect fit for their particular staffing and recruitment needs.

“The synergies in this partnership will provide our marketing and interactive media-related clients with a powerful suite of consulting and search services for employers and job seekers alike. Our tight focus in marketing and media has significant advantages over those huge employment services and job boards that try to cater to all professions,” said Judith Mallard, Director of Recruitment for Recruiting Now.

Both companies bring an abundance of expertise to their service offerings. Recruiting Now has a dedicated team of consultants with over 60 years of combined experience sourcing media, IT, and marketing professionals for top employers. Media Job Search Canada has been providing employment search tools to media and marketing professionals for over 10 years. “This partnership adds a new dimension to our online tools suite by bringing industry-specific recruitment consulting into the mix. In a nutshell, what this means is that a team of media recruitment specialists will be scouring our site, looking to match top talent with some of the best employers in the country. For the employers and job seekers we serve, that’s very exciting,” said Corey Fuchs, President of Media Job Search Canada.

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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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7th August 2009

Canadian Team Readies for Finals

SheridanScotland – Canada’s team from Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning is getting ready for the final competition at Scotland’s Dare to be Digital event. Dare ProtoPlay, which is part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe will be taking place August 14-16. You can preview the games and check out team blogs on the Dare to be Digital web site. Entry is free for the event which is open 10am – 6pm.

Dare ProtoPlay, presented by Abertay University and powered by Intel, has grown out of the world-leading Dare to be Digital competition and aims to celebrate young talent through a mini video-games festival. It is a unique cultural event for the games industry showcasing talent, IP, research, and much more, and serves as a battleground for creativity and culture in games Dare To Be Digital Competitorsdevelopment.

Fourteen brand new computer games, developed by teams during this year’s Dare to be Digital competition, will fight it out at Dare ProtoPlay to win the public vote and the endorsement of a panel of industry experts.

This year’s Dare ProtoPlay will also see digital toy factory Denki present the first opportunity to play a preview of Quarrel, their new Xbox Live Arcade game. Everyone is invited to play and give feedback that will directly affect how the game looks and works when it is released in 2010..

In addition, Dare ProtoPlay will also feature several other exciting new elements: a music workshop by Yann Seznec, who will use Wacom pen tablets to create music instruments; Abertay PhD research programmes based on video games technology; a Dare iPhone game preview in association with Digital Goldfish; a special Career Workshop in association with BAFTA targeted for teenagers and much more.
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