Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"Why Games in Manitoba?" Conference in the news

By Jose A. Rueda

Fortune Cat Games Studio and the Virtual Reality Centre presented the "Why Games in Manitoba?" Conference at the Industrial Technology Centre on February 27, 2007 hosted by the Hon. Jim Rondeau, Manitoba Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mines.

The objectives of this conference were:
- to raise the profile of the games industry and its potential in Manitoba, and
- to provide senior decision makers with ideas about applications in sectors other than entertainment.

This conference was organized by volunteers to provide senior decision-makers with valuable information about key aspects of the games industry and stimulate ideas about the potential of this industry in Manitoba.

Manitoba has a lot of talent applicable to this industry and fabulous facilities for advanced interactive applications and simulation such as the Virtual Reality Centre.

The program included demonstrations of well-known commercial games and two Made in Manitoba educational games.

So What? What can we learn from this conference and why games in Manitoba?

- This industry can employ many people in high paying jobs in Manitoba.
- Video games require cross disciplinary teams with talented individuals and we have a lot of talent in Manitoba in many areas such as music, engineering, architecture, history, geography, energy, mines, culture, arts, education, medicine.
- Young people want jobs in something digital and in games in particular. They are not looking forward to spending 15 years in training and education after high school to eventually get a job in a Manitoba high-tech company, for example, that may or may not be there when they graduate or that may only last a few years because the company may run out of funding. Young people want jobs now and they want good salaries and a challenge (not a retail sales job).
- Young people and their parents crowd the digital media program booths at open houses in local educational institutions. Other programs receive comparatively little attention.
- Young people know how to reach young people, not advertising companies or tv stations because the generation has changed. Young people spend less time watching tv than generations before since tv became a mass market medium.
- Jobs in the games industry have generally speaking low barriers of entry. Talent is number one.
- These jobs can truly be done from anywhere in the world and for clients or companies anywhere. For example, a 14-year old from a farm in Alberta sold a game with the assistance from an agent for a very large sum.
- Some of these jobs can be done over weekends and pay very well.
- It is very difficult to enter the games industry in the main stream, so a place like Manitoba can carve many niches in areas such as the ones demonstrated at the conference (casual pedagogical game, transportation, medical simulation, education and training of youth, culture, teamwork development).
- Manitoba needs to help enthusiastic talented young enterpreneurs become successful professionals in this industry. It is very difficult to make a good living in this industry as a developer unless the develper has a day job and develops games for pure fun.
- In summary, the games industry is a solution of the economic problem that governments and communities are going to face with the young digital generation.
- Status quo: people will continue to leave and not enroll in our postsecondary institutions for their education. Many parents talk about their teens interested in cool high paying jobs in other jurisdictions. The economic cost of this can be measured in billions.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Manitoba announces support for new media projects

Manitoba Government News Release

Three Manitoba companies have been awarded a total of $140,000 in funding to assist in producing, developing and marketing their new media projects, Science, Technology, Energy and Mines Minister Jim Rondeau announced today.

"The Manitoba government is a strong supporter of the digital media sector because it is cutting edge technology," said Rondeau. "We want this young and vibrant industry to grow so young people educated in this field will want to live, work and invest in their home province."

Rondeau made the announcement at a one-day event focusing on digital gaming technologies and developments within the industry.

Digital media companies receiving assistance under the Manitoba Interactive Digital Media Fund include: - awarded $70,000 in financial assistance for the development of an animated 3-D online website for musicians, music industry players and music lovers worldwide;

Complex Games - awarded $60,000 in financial assistance for the development of three video games focusing on the action, adventure and strategy genres; and

First Voice Multi-media Inc. - awarded $10,000 in financial assistance for the development of an interactive web-based DVD on the people, history and culture of the M├ętis.

The $300,000 Manitoba Interactive Digital Media Fund provides assistance with production, professional development and marketing.It also provides non-repayable advances to support activities and initiatives that contribute to the development of interactive digital media in Manitoba.

Video game and new media developers may also apply for the Manitoba New Media Production Grantwhich provides eligible companies with grant assistance equal to 45 per cent of the eligible Manitoba labour costs directly attributable to the development of an eligible new media product.

To be eligible for this grant, new media companies must apply for a registration certificate in advance of production to help raise interim funding.A final grant cheque is issued after the entire project is completed and a final copy of the production is available.

"Manitoba can be a leader in digital media product development if the industry is supported," said Rondeau."Our government is working hard to ensure new media developers in this province have the tools they will need to be successful."

There are more than 230 digital media companies in Manitoba with demonstrated expertise in 2-Dand 3-D computer animation, web development, visual effects, CD-ROM and software development, and music and sound processing.The video game industry in Manitoba has grown 1,850 per cent during the last two years, putting Manitoba fourth in Canada after British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.

More information about the new media digital industry is available at at the Manitoba Science, Technology, Energy and Mines Home Page

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Video game playing surgeons score higher on skills test

You want your surgeon to be a gamer!

Surgeons who have played a lot of video games appear to perform better in key proceedures. For more information see the article on the CBC web site

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Tuesday, February 6, 2007

International Game Developers Association opens a chapter in Winnipeg!

Written By Thomas Rab
From the International Game Developers Association-Winnipeg web site

The Winnipeg IGDA Chapter kicked open its doors for the first time on February 6th, 2007. The Inaugural Meeting was a blast, Josiah Pisciotta of Chronic Logic LLC was there to start things off with a talk on indie game development. Also speaking during the evening were Doug McCartney (STEM), Kristine Seier (CTT) and Dr. Jose Rueda (Fortune Cat Games Studio), with each bringing focus on different opportunities available to developers in Winnipeg. Others such as Randy Dueck and Stefan Isfeld (OgreForce), Kenley Kristofferson (Dragonfly Toys) and Oleg Kononov (U of M's CSSA President) attended the event. The night ended with some schmoozing and boozing!

See a video of Made in Manitoba games. (25 MB)

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