Members of Ontario's "Technology Corridor" attended Gamescom in Cologne, Germany to show their support for the culture, work ethic and incentives the Canadian region provides to developers. Over the past two years, Canada's gaming industry has expanded 11 percent annually and is forecasted to grow 17 percent in each of the next two years. Executives from the Ontario Technology Corridor were at Gamescom to demonstrate the province's "winning combination" of talent and tax credits.
An open letter by Mrs. O. Babiuk of New Westminster, British Columbia - written on behalf of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International - urges (with dramatic flair) Premier Christy Clark to "keep sexually explicit video games away from kids." The letter appeared this week in the Royal City Record newspaper. The group she represents is a professional honorary Society devoted to women educators in British Columbia. In her letter Babiuk asks Clark to take steps to limit the availability of violent and sexually explicit video games as part of the premier's "caring for children and families initiatives."
Two women are going to prison for a September 2010 crash that took the life of a prominent Relic Entertainment developer, injured his pregnant wife and killed two passengers in the woman's Chevy Blazer. The two women were found guilty of three counts of vehicular homicide each, with the driver Jordyn Weichert sentenced to eight years in prison and the passenger Samantha Bowling receiving a five year sentence. Wood was the lead developer on Company of Heroes Online.
The accident happened on Highway 20 near North Whidbey, Washington on September 3, 2010. According to police reports, Weichert tried to remove her sweater while driving her Chevy Blazer, and asked the passenger, Bowling, to steer. This lead to the confusion that caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle, which veered to the left and into oncoming traffic.
Algoma Games for Health, a development team at Algoma University that specializes in developing serious games for educational and rehabilitation purposes, has received a cash injection from Ontario's provincial funding. The team will use the $713,200 to develop a game that will help stroke victims at the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre. The news was announced by MPP David Orazietti. The program will combine video conferencing, voice recognition and therapeutic video games to provide an online platform to help improve speech therapy.
"We are continuing to build on the progress we have made improving health care infrastructure and front-line services in Sault Ste. Marie by making investments that are delivering measurable results, including this initiative that will provide stoke victims with interactive rehabilitation therapy to help improve their quality of life," said Orazietti.
Mass Effect 2, BioWare's popular sci-fi themed RPG sequel, was named Game of the Year at this year's Canadian Videogame Awards, beating out the likes of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, Dead Rising 2, FIFA 11, and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction. Mass Effect 2 also won Console Game of the Year, Best Game Design, and Best Writing. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood from Ubisoft Montreal received two awards - Best Audio and Best Visual Arts. Other winners included Deathspank, Osmos, Pocket God, WOMP!, ModNation Racers, and Kinect.
The full list of winners (and nominees can be found below:
Voting for the Game of the Year category of the 2011 Canadian Videogame Awards is still open to the public for one more day. Voting is open to the public until midnight, Friday, May 13th. The five Game of the Year finalists are Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, Dead Rising 2, FIFA 11, Mass Effect 2, and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction. You can make your selection here. The site apparently allows visitors from outside the country vote.
Awards organizers also announced that tickets are still available for the event that takes place next Wednesday (May 18). The show will be hosted by Victor Lucas and his team from the TV show The Electric Playground. Video Games Live will also be back this year to provide the musical entertainment AND Nintendo will be offering attendees a special opportunity to play The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D for Nintendo 3DS.
A Canadian teenager was brought to justice by an Xbox 360, Guitar Hero, and an uncle who was already in trouble with the law. The combination has landed the unnamed teenager from Saskatoon, Canada in jail, according to a CBC report. Police had their suspicions that the young man had committed a murder so they approached his uncle to take him down. The murder in question took place in 2009; police allege that the boy murdered 16 year-old Charlotte Jolly with a stolen rifle after a fight in an alley.
The uncle was more than happy to participate in the sting because police promised to drop a drunk driving charge for his help.
Toronto is the location of the latest class action suit against Sony launched on behalf of one million Canadian consumers for security breaches of the company's PlayStation Network and Qricoity. The class action alleges a breach of privacy and negligence on the part of Sony. The class action suit is seeking in excess of $1 billion in damages and is fronted by plaintiff Natasha Maksimovic, a 21-year-old Humber College student. Maksimovic describes herself as an avid PlayStation player and Sony e-reader user.
She filed her suit because she was concerned that Sony's security breach would have a dramatic impact on her privacy and her finances.
"I’m very loyal to Sony," she said in a phone interview with the Star. "I buy a lot of their products. I trust their brand. It’s kind of disappointing. I’m disappointed in the company to have something like this happen."
Canada's Privacy Commissioner is now investigating PlayStation Network security to find out if any privacy laws were violated. Jennifer Stoddart, the current Privacy Commissioner of Canada, will head the investigation. Stoddart said Sony had not notified it of the security breach which involved the theft of personal information and possibly credit card data. Of course, Canada's Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act does not require notification in these kinds of events.
Nevertheless, the office of Canada's privacy commissioner says that it plans to look into the matter and expects to hear plenty of complaints from Canadian consumers.
"We are currently looking into this matter and are seeking information from Sony," a spokesperson told Canada.com. "We will determine next steps once we have a full understanding of the incident."
According to a Develop report, Canadian development studio Digital Extremes has been given $2.5 million to move its office and create more jobs. The money comes from the Canadian government. The "provincial grant" allows the studio to add 30 new employees to its 150 strong staff, and to build new game engine technology. Digital Extremes has been tapped to create the next The Darkness game - the first game was created Swedish studio Starbreeze.
A news story from IFPress also reports that the studio will invest $33 million of its own money into its new game engine.
"Right now we can’t hire people fast enough," studio founder James Schmalz said.
Finalists for the Canadian Videogame Awards have been announced. The winners of this year's awards in 12 categories will be revealed in Vancouver on May 18 at the Centre for the Performing Arts. Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and Mass Effect 2 lead the pack with 7 nominations each. Other notable nominations include Dead Rising 2, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction and FIFA 11.
The general public can vote for Canadian Game of the Year at www.canadianvideogameawards.com. The CVA's are sponsored by Kinect for XBOX 360, G4 Canada, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo 3DS, Entertainment Software Association of Canada, The Georgia Straight and the Canadian Studios of Electronic Arts.
Full list of finalists in various categories can be found below:
According to a survey in the latest edition of Digital Life Canada quarterly, more Canadian TV's are ready for Internet movie content. Further, game consoles (Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii) are in nearly half of Canadian Internet-enabled households. Of these, over half are Internet enabled and connected to the living room TV for online gaming and movies. Around 23 percent of Canadian households connect a laptop or another computer to their main TVs (8 percent all the time, 15 percent sometimes) when they need to watch something on the big screen.
In total, over one-third (35 percent) of TVs in Canadian households are connected to the Internet at least some of the time, either via game consoles or laptops, and 47 percent of Internet using Canadians say that they now prefer to rent movies online rather than going to the video store (up from 33 percent from a year ago).
A Commons committee has recommended the current Canadian government be found in contempt of Parliament, but the ruling party, Conservatives, have a chance of a historic censure if a vote on the budget or other events launch an election first.
The Commons procedure and house affairs committee tabled a majority report Monday concluding that the government is "in contempt" for continually refusing to disclose information about the cost of several major legislative items. They are referring to documents related to the cost of several items including its law-and-order agenda, corporate tax cuts and a plan to buy stealth combat jets. All of the opposition members of Parliament on the committee voted to condemn the government for withholding the requested documents without giving "adequate reasons" for doing so.
Square-Enix plans to open a new studio with over a hundred employees in 2012, somewhere in Canada. The maker of Final Fantasy is reportedly negotiating with the governments of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Whichever location offers the best tax incentives package will get a new Square Enix Studio that expects to employ over one-hundred new employees. Square Enix already has a studio in Montreal - which it acquired when it bought Eidos in 2009. But that doesn't mean Square Enix is giving the edge to that locale:
The CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) has denied requests to hold a hearing on the broad practice of usage-based billing in the retail sector. Any decision the CRTC makes on UBB will not affect customers already affected by it such as Rogers, Bell, and Shaw Internet customers. Ultimately, it will only affect smaller internet service providers that get their bandwidth from the big aforementioned service providers.
In a letter, the CRTC said the following:
The Recording Industry Association of America and its partners at the International Intellectual Property Alliance recently submitted their ‘piracy watchlist’ recommendations to the Office of the US Trade Representative. The RIAA pointed to two countries as being the worst of the worst when it comes to intellectual property theft: Spain and our comrades to the north - Canada.
This is particularly interesting because this week Spain passed a tough new law to combat piracy. The Sinde law (nicknamed for its sponsor) is aimed at shutting down file-sharing sites that traffic in illegal downloads. Even though the public and some in the Spanish movie industry opposed the law, it will become the rule of the land by summer, says TorrentFreak. But the RIAA claims this is just a baby step and that even more needs to be done to combat theft.
Update: while writing this story it came to my attention (thanks to HarmlessBunny) that Canadian Industry Minister Tony Clement has called on the CRTC to reverse its decision to end unlimited internet access plans offered by smaller internet providers. If the CRTC does not back down from its decision on usage-based billing, Clement says the government will intervene. Further Clement said that the CRTC must "go back to the drawing board" on the issue - more from CBC here.
Canadian journalist Jason Koblovskly complains about usage-based billing and how much it sucks in a non-shocking blog post. Like many of his fellow citizens (at least those paying attention) he is angry that internet service providers are crying poverty and implementing pricing that charges users for both uploads and downloads.
In his post he points out that an online petition to the Canadian government demanding an end to usage based billing has managed to garner nearly 190,000 signatures. There seems to be some momentum towards ending this practice, with federal Liberals and the NDP already calling for an end to it. Meanwhile, Industry Minister Tony Clement is waiting for the results of an appeal with the Canadian regulator the CRTC.
Are you a Canadian ticked off at the newly concocted scheme to charge you based on the bandwidth you consume? Then you might want to check out Anti UBB, an organazation dedicated to stopping "usage-based billing" in Canada. As a consumer in the U.S. this should scare you, because if usage-based billing is implemented without complaint from consumers, it will most definitely make its way here.
So what exactly is usage-based billing? From the site:
"With Usage-Based Billing, large Internet Service Providers (ISP) provide you with a ridiculously-low download cap, and charge you as you download more than it. Caps recommended have been as low as 25GB. As Bell is losing its fixed-line telephone customers and soon television customers, Usage-Based Billing is yet another way to increase profits and gouge customers."
Develop offers an interesting breakdown of Quebec's video game industry, which it calls one of the "fastest-growing game development clusters in the world." If the numbers are to be believed (and we trust their research), than Canada is on track to surpass many other countries soon. In some cases it already has. The report is particularly troublesome to regions in Europe, like the UK, a popular poaching ground for talent..
The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences announced today that it would induct BioWare co-founders Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk into its hall of fame. The duo responsible for some of the greatest role-playing game series ever made (Baldur's Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Mass Effect, and Dragon Age - to name a few) will also speak at AIAS' 2011 D.I.C.E. event.
Epic Games president Mike Capps will present the award to the duo on February 10 at the Interactive Achievement Awards at the D.I.C.E. summit in Las Vegas.
The Vancouver Film School (VFS) will present its annual Women in Games Scholarship in January. Full details of the Women in Games Scholarship will be announced at the free Sunday Open House (part of the Game Design Expo 2011) on January 22-23, 2011. The Women in Games Scholarship is a unique financial incentive to encourage opportunities for women pursuing a career in game design. The Women in Games Scholarship, valued at up to $50,000, covers the full tuition for an aspiring female game designer to attend VFS’s one-year Game Design program.
Since the scholarship was introduced two years ago, the percentage of female VFS Game Design students has increased from 2 percent in 2008 to 8 percent in 2010. VFS call this an encouraging trend for the future of the industry. Female VFS Game Design graduates include Tara Mustapha and Charmie Kim of Microsoft Game Studios, Pamela Livara of XMG Studio, and Melanie Genereux of Longtail Studios in PEI.
Alberta Police have an interesting way of luring youngsters in to learn more about being a police officer: a video game. The Police department is using new approaches to get youngsters interested in a career in law enforcement and what works better than video games?
The official game of the Alberta Police Department is appropriately called Alberta C.O.P.S. Impaired Driver and was developed by Edmonton-based software company Firetext International. C.O.P.S. stands for Career Opportunities in Police Services.
Alberta C.O.P.S. Impaired Driver begins by letting the player select one of five police officers who come from different backgrounds. Next, the player is briefed on objectives for the day, and then sent out in a patrol car to investigate and arrest suspects who appear to be breaking the law. The player has 12 minutes to complete three tasks. For every achieved objective the player is awarded a badge.
A 39 year-old Toronto man has been arrested for stealing $500,000 (we assume CDN as the value) in PlayStation 3's, PSP's, and games, according to multiple Canadian press reports. Jason Meadus has been arrested and charged with three counts of "Possession of Property by Crime."
The charges stem from the theft of two tractor-trailers stolen on November 15 and 16, 2010 in Brampton. Each tractor-trailer load contained approximately $500,000 in PS3's, PSP's and video games. On November 17 both trailers were reported stolen.
A police investigation inevitably lead to Meadus. Only about half of the stolen property has been recovered, and it is unclear if Meadus was simply in possession of the stolen property or had a hand in stealing it. Investigators claim to have recovered approximately 1,600 pieces of Sony consoles and 2,000 games.
Meadus returns to court on January 10, 2011.
The city of London, Ontario continues to harbor aspirations for a local technology center based around videogames and has $5 million in funds ready to kick start the project.
There’s still no timeline for the intended center, but a plan, according to the LF Press, would have the federal government kick in $10.4 million of the total $24 million needed to get the project off the ground.
This year’s fourth annual Desert Bus for Hope charity gaming drive will benefit from the backing of managed hosting service provider ServInt.
Canadian comedy troupe LoadingReadyRun puts on the charity initiative each year, which consists of members playing the Penn & Teller-developed game of monotony Desert Bus, which has players man the steering wheel of a bus headed from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada.
Such a trip takes eight hours in real time, and upon competition, players are awarded a single point.
Last year the charity drive, which benefits Child’s Play, raised over $140,000.
LoadingReadyRun’s Kathleen De Vere thanked ServInt for their contribution, and added, “With their hosting, we know everyone will be able to see us as we suffer for the children.”
Canada’s Department of National Defence has submitted a federal government tender request for 500 videogames.
Among the games requested, according to The Star, are 93 copies of Gears of War, 82 copies in total of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and 36 copies of Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock. All in all, it’s estimated that the total value of the games sought is around $25,000.
Capt. Sandra Bourne, a spokesperson for the Canadian Forces, said about the order, “It’s a strange one.”
Notably absent from the list—Medal of Honor, which Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay criticized earlier this year.
While game industry group TIGA continues to pound politicians on the subject of instituting Games Tax Relief for UK interactive developers, one Canadian developer feels like the UK's rich history of creating games created as tax breaks, at least when it comes to landing new publishing deals.
A psychology student at Canada’s Brock University has undertaken a study on the relation between videogames and aggression, but his research seeks to examine whether other elements of games, rather than violence only, can lead to increased hostility.
26-year old Paul Adachi, as part of his push for a PhD, has already experimented on 50 students between the ages of 17 and 19. His plan, as detailed by the Standard, involves having subjects play two games—one non-violent (the racing game Fuel) and one violent (the action-adventure title Conan)—while attempting to determine if a game’s level of competiveness, difficulty and pace of play contributed to a rising level of aggression.