The Mediocre Gazette. 1 December 2012

Ladies and gentlemen welcome to the Saturday edition of the Gazette; my name is Vincent, bringing you the latest round of games industry news and news from Montreal. You can leave suggestions for future editions in the suggestions tab at the top of the page. In the headlines today: The Office Quebecois de la Lange Francaise hopes to restrict the use of English in the workplace, 3 defectors from the Angry Birds series ride the waves of a Finnish game investment boom, students on the West Island are inspired by David Suzuki’s lecture, Canadian Forces gets their own line of action figures, Microsoft opens a new studio in Vancouver, the Old Port of Montreal is now under federal stewardship, and PS3 Black Friday sales are lagging behind competitors. Let’s get started shall we?

The Quebec government wants to restrict the use of the use of English in the workplace. This report from the CBC details how the OQLF; the office in charge of enforcing Quebec’s language laws, says bilingualism is on the rise and that they wish to add new provisions to Bill 101 which will restrict the use of English in the workplace to “be used only because it is needed.” Advocates from a French-language coalition announced that it will push the Parti Quebecois to strengthen Bill 101 and propose other amendments to the bill. Now this sort of language-politics is not uncommon in the province of Quebec. Some unilingual Francophones who harbour extreme views will want to exterminate the English-language from the province and make it so that only unilingual Francophones live in Quebec. I find it humorous how they specify Montreal – the ‘seat’ of the Anglophone minority in the province – and they see a need to reduce the number of Anglophones even further. This whole situation is ridiculous and the facebook page I keep track of is obviously up in arms over this story as many of them do not want to have French forced on them at work. Their frustrations are not without base, as a story posted on the group’s page details how a woman’s husband had the OQLF visit and after hearing workers conversing in English while on break, told the owner that their workplace must operate in French or else they will face fines. Ever since the closure of the English-language lobby group, Alliance Quebec, these language coalitions and the OQLF have gone around to harass the Anglophones since they lack the unified power to retaliate. Now if something similar to Alliance Quebec were to exist once more, it would give a voice to those who are affected by the OQLF’s harassment. The link to the story as well as the lady’s submission is below:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2012/11/27/bill-101-french-workplace-montreal.html

http://putbackflag.posterous.com/office-water-cooler-talk-in-english-banned-by

The trio of defectors from the company that made the Angry Birds series are benefiting from a flow of investment money being thrown at mobile game developers residing in Finland. Antti Sten, Tuomas Erikoinen, and Ikka Halila – the founders of Boonlagoon – were reported to have received a large sum of money from Finland’s Jari Ovaskainen, and game investment group London Venture Partners. The sum of money given to them has not been disclosed. Well this is no surprise to me; the mobile gaming industry is just massive, and projections show a positive trend when it comes to investing in games developed for mobile devices. Hell Angry Birds sold over 12 million copies; this has got to say something when it comes to the mobile gaming industry as a self-sustaining business model all to itself. How many of your friends own a touch phone or some sort? What about a tablet? Now how many of your friends play Angry Birds while waiting in line at the coffee shop, or while waiting for their partner or spouse to finish their shopping? It is just absolutely stunning how much money people are willing to pay for these ‘time sinks’ so to speak, and how many hours they will spend on games that have absolutely no story to them whatsoever and are purely meant to kill time. Whatever the case it is definitely something to be proud of and these developers deserve to have this sort of investment where they can create more games and really – if they so desire – diversify the market and introduce another concept to mobile gaming. The address to this story is located below:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/182466/Angry_Birds_defectors_latest_to_score_in_Finnish_game_investment_boom.php#.ULcLQYb6cSk

David Suzuki gave a lecture at John Abbot College regarding climate change. The article from the West Island Gazette – a subsidiary of the Montreal Gazette – states that 2 grade 11 students were inspired by the environmentalist’s speech to live ‘greener’ lives. One thing I want to put forward is that grade 11 is not exactly the ideal stage to be listening to lectures such as Suzuki. Now I am not saying they should not have the choice to attend, however this is like letting someone drive a car before they learned how to drive. When it comes to complex issues such as climate change and a person’s perspective; critical thinking skills need to be present in order to separate fact from propaganda. Suzuki has valid points: however there still needs to be critical analysis of the lecture given, or any lecture for that matter. If people simply nod their heads in agreement to whatever they hear: then whoever is giving the speech, will control the population present in one form or another. Yet if those two students are able to critically analyze Suzuki’s statements rather than nod their heads in agreement to everything he says, then I have no reason to say that they cannot attend. I just hope that they possessed critical thinking skills when they attended so that they can analyze the material presented, rather than absorb it all without thought or question. The link to the story is located in the address below:

http://westislandgazette.com/news/story/2012/10/25/students-inspired-by-dr-david-suzukis-lecture/

Now this story is not related to either of the two main topics, but I thought I would share it with you. The Canadian Forces have their own line of action figures. A report done by lookoutnewspaper.com talks about a new line of action figures which were a vision of a master corporal looking to honour his fellow Canadian soldiers. They are limited to being sold at CANEX stores – the logistic stores on Canadian Forces bases – however I believe they are also available for mail order. Action figures as a way of remembering soldiers is an interesting idea, and it is nice to see Canadian soldiers having a bit more positive publicity than back in the 70s and 80s when there were deep cuts to the budget while the list of operational duties expanded. However one would argue that this may be a plot designed to recruit children into the Army but in all honesty, the Canadian Forces does not need to engage in dishonest tactics to recruit the next generation of soldiers. They are by far the most respectable fighting force on the face of the planet and Canadians need to understand that they are not as gung ho as the Americans down south. Ultimately they are a professional military which seeks to recruit professionals, not some action-hungry child who played Call of Duty and decided to join up. These soldiers deserve to be recognized for what they do every day for their country. If someone decides to say otherwise I would reply with this; how would you feel if you finished university and you did not receive much fanfare or recognition for your efforts. You go to school for 4 years, study your rear end off, and at the end all you get is a hand shake and then you are booted off into the shadows. No convocation, no party, no congratulatory dinner. You are just handed your piece of paper and ushered off into obscurity. Everyone deserves to be recognized for their contributions to the nation, and soldiers are no different. Regardless, having a Canadian presence in a mostly American dominated toy market is refreshing and unique. You can find the address to the full story below this paragraph:

http://lookoutnewspaper.com/canada-gets-its-own-military-action-figures/

Microsoft has decided to open a new studio in Vancouver, British Columbia. The studio is named Black Tusk Studios and employs 55 members all of whom have an average of 12 years of experience in the games industry, according to the Vancouver Sun. The studio’s manager – Mike Crump – hopes to work on Microsoft’s next big franchise, and hopes that his studio can bring the next ‘halo’ to the new generation consoles. Vancouver has seen a disappearance of game development studios over the last 12 months as Rockstar Vancouver close in the summer, and shortly thereafter Radical Entertainment followed as well. You know it is nice to see the games industry look to Vancouver as a base of operations when it comes to the development of video games. This country has a solid foundation to offer when it comes to graphic designers and software engineers, and it is nice to see home-trained talent work at home rather than travel to another country to seek employment because there were no jobs related to their field nearby. That said however, it is likely that the employees were recruited from the States as well as Canada which would not surprise me at all. Having a mixed studio enables them to draw from the best and the most talented the market has to offer in order to make their games attractive to consumers. Since this studio was opened by Microsoft, there will be a lot of pressure on their shoulders to produce something that has a high, short-term sales volume. Console gaming is that short sighted, and due to the fact that console games have limited shelf-space (whereas PC games nowadays are mostly digital distribution), it can get quite stressful. Microsoft rarely opens a studio with the purpose of making PC games as they do not have a monopoly when it comes to the market. With so many Indie developers roaming the PC domain, it would not surprise me if Microsoft orders Black Tusk to make only Xbox-exclusive games. The link to the full article is located below this paragraph:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/182544/Microsoft_opens_new_AAA_studio_in_embattled_Vancouver.php#.ULei-ob6cSk

The Old Port of Montreal is now under the control of a Crown property management firm. The new boss – Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government services – says that the Old Port’s operational headquarters will remain in Montreal but is now under the direction of Canada Lands Company. The previous CEO – Claude Benoit – has been reportedly spending upwards to about 10,000.00 during trips to Australia and New Zealand around 2008, 2009. Now the Minister told journalists that she will not sell the land, and that they are only there to govern the old port. Now I must put in there before I go on that Canada Lands purpose is to manage, redevelop, and/or sell government property. This could be a cause for concern as citizens may feel that giving a treasured part of Montreal to a federal office of which their mandate is to manage, and possibly redevelop and/or sell government land, could potentially put the area at risk of being sold and turned into condos. That said I highly doubt that Canada Lands will sell such a prized section of Montreal to a private real estate developer, as the citizens of Montreal would be up in arms over such a move. Whatever the case may be, it will be important to keep up with this story to see where they go from here. For the moment though, they have the peoples’ trust. The link to the full story is below this paragraph:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/montreal/Port+placed+under+federal+stewardship/7630659/story.html

Sony’s Playstation 3 has seen a rise in their black Friday sales, however these profit increases come up short against their competitors. A story on gamasutra.com mentions that while there has been a 9 percent increase in sales of PS3 consoles: the company has come up short against their competitors who have been able to sell over 150,000 (Microsoft) to 175,000 (Nintendo) more units than Sony (which sold 525,000). Now this does not come as a surprise to me for these various reasons: Sony’s console – along with its’ competitors – are in the longest console generation which is still going. The hardware is old, and as such many people may not find the need or desire to purchase a PS3 if the hardware is not up to date. Adding to this issue is the fact that Sony has not reduced the price of the PS3 whereas Microsoft has axed the 360 several times and released cheaper variants with smaller hard drives to attract a bigger player base. Another reason for the shortfall in sales is because people already own a PS3 and therefore are less inclined to buy the console in the first place. Console gaming – in my honest opinion – is still clinging to the old fashioned model of the Brick and Mortar retailer. The games are limited by physical shelf space, so developers and investors only look at short term sales projections to determine whether a game is worth the investment money or not. Whereas PC games have an infinite shelf-life as on services such as Steam, gog.com, and gamersgate, and to add to this is the encouragement of a healthy moding scene. Sony – like Microsoft – want to keep a tight grip on their monopoly, and therefore will suffer in the long run, regardless of whatever new title is released. Let’s be honest folks; 60 to 80 dollars for a game is a lot of money. For some people, 80 dollars for a new release game is basically a days’ wages gone. If the game turns out to be garbage, then the consumer will not be interested in the product and the game will not sell. I think the console gaming market needs to release newer and better versions soon if they hope to attract customers to their products. The only reason why the newer games look better is because they have familiarized themselves with the source code, and are able to perform little tricks here and there to make things look cleaner and more crisp. Aside from that, there is nothing special and nothing new. You can find the full story in the address below:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/182680/PS3_Black_Friday_sales_up_but_still_lagging_behind_competitors.php#.ULlNE4b6cSk

Well this wraps up this edition of the gazette. Check back Wednesday December 5th, 2012 for another dose of games industry and Montreal news. My name has been Vincent, have a safe weekend, and I’ll see you next time.

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Creating articles related to the games industry and military news.

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