The Mediocre Gazette. 8 December 2012
Hello folks and welcome to another edition of the mediocre gazette. My name is Vincent, bringing you the latest round of news related to both Montreal, and the games industry. You can leave recommendations for future editions in the Suggestions tab at the top of the page. In the headlines today: Canadian flag will remain in the Quebec Legislature, the new revised Bill 101 is tabled, Facebook plans on forcing developers back onto their social network, the Call of Duty franchise is on the decline, and McGill University is not happy with the Parti Quebecois’s funding cuts.
The Quebec National Assembly has voted to keep the Canadian flag in their red hall. The motion to remove the flag from the Red Room where ceremonial functions take place was defeated by 12 votes. Now this was an interesting story to keep track of, as earlier in November the PQ government decided to remove the flag from the Red Room of the National Assembly. This sort of petty culture and linguistic politics is what the PQ focuses on primarily, while – in a sense like they did in the election – avoiding real issues such as corruption and the crumbling infrastructure. All things aside, it is good to see that the government has decided to vote in support of keeping the flag in the National Assembly: mainly the two parties of the Liberals, and the Coalition Avenir Quebec. Marois and her Parti Quebecois are just playing petty politics and are trying to revive the whole separation debate all over again. You can find the link to this story in the address below:
The Parti Quebecois on Wednesday December 5th tabled a new Bill 101, known as Bill 14. CJAD 800 – a radio news site – describes the new bill 101 as a slightly watered version of what was proposed during the election. Some changes proposed include mastery of French as a requirement in order to graduate High School and CEGEP in Quebec, bilingual municipalities will be evaluated every ten years to see how many Anglophones live in the area, and can have that status revoked of the percentage of Anglophones living in the area drop below 50 percent, and students who go to Ontario for a short period of time to get an English education will no longer be able to use this as a means to enter the English school system in Quebec. Changes NOT included in the bill include restricting Francophone students to French-language CEGEPs, and businesses with more than 10 employees will not be affected, though anyone with 25 or more employees will face new language laws. As per usual the bill also targets businesses, and states that companies would not be able to require people to speak any language other than French, and finally it includes a complaints mechanism for people who believe their right to work in French was affected. Right okay, well this is a lovely new proposal is it not? Not surprising is the PQ government interested in suffocating the English-speaking population to the point where they leave, or convert to becoming unilingual Francophones. Now analyzing this without resorting to emotional reasoning, it is important to protect and preserve the French language in Quebec, same as it is important to ensure that people in Ontario, Alberta, or British Columbia for example can be served in English. However with that said, such measures which goes onto limiting the use of other languages in the work place, and limiting people’s choice to a particular education institution is somewhat ridiculous. If a store cannot serve the customer in either of the two official languages, then we have a problem. However if a person can get service in French and/or English, why should it matter what language they speak when in the back room, AWAY from customers? All they are doing in the back is stacking shelves and moving boxes, so why should the government care what language they use when talking to co-workers? Plenty of businesses here in the Lower Mainland in BC use a vast array of languages to communicate with one another. In municipalities such as Richmond – with a high percentage of oriental workers – the use of Mandarin or Cantonese is quite common. Yet they can still serve me in English, therefore why should I care what language they use with their co-workers? This whole linguistic battle in Quebec has been going on for the past 200 or so years, and the PQ are simply trying to revive that sense of not-belonging in a predominately English-speaking country. It is understood that in the past, handfuls of people such as the Anglo-Scots merchants in 1774 to the Governor of Quebec in 1812, have done much to damage the relationship between Anglophones and Francophones. Yet amid the infighting; there existed a group of dedicated individuals who worked hard to unite the two groups. Ultimately we are all Canadian, and I find this divisive politics insulting and a waste of time. Quebec has other more important matters to attend to, and this fight over language domination and suppression is going to turn into another six months of wasted tax payer dollars. Perhaps they are doing this, because in reality the PQ have no solution to the issues of corruption, the crumbling infrastructure, and the half a billion dollar deficit that Quebec has at the moment. If that were the case and the PQ are side-stepping these issues with the language battle, then all there is to say would be to quote from Jurassic Park in which a character remarked: “clever girl.” You can find the links to this story in the address below:
Facebook is not happy with the current trend of developers making social games outside of the program. Starting today (December 6), companies such as Zynga will no longer be able to force players to access external websites; and have access to the user’s data –example: friends lists – and other features on Facebook. Developers are therefore prohibited from accessing these sorts of information outside of Facebook, meaning that when a developer wants to use social integration from Facebook, they will have to develop on Facebook and launch their title through the social networking site. Now this is an interesting turn of events, though not unexpected. Facebook relies on users to stay connected on their site to generate ad revenue, and game development is no different from advertisements. The revenue lost from companies that launch their titles outside of Facebook but integrate Facebook’s features, is starting to cut into their profit margins. This seems more like a power trip on Facebook’s end; like Microsoft, they see a chance to capitalize on a monopoly, and in the end they have the right to do so. That said, it is a shame to see a game that relies on Facebook users to share and invite their friends to play, become restricted to the site where a certain support structure may not be in place for them to host a particular game. Ultimately what a company can do in this instance is not use Facebook’s social integration options; and instead build a strong fan base through Kickstarter, eventually draw investors to the project. Nevertheless, this is just an idea: what developers do with their product it up to them. You can find the link to this story in the address below:
Call of Duty has been estimated to be on the decline after speculation surfaced regarding their sales numbers, but now it looks as though this decline is real. According to NDP group, sales of Black Ops 2 has only reached 7.4 million units; compared to 8.8 million units for Modern Warfare 3 back in 2011. Now the group that provided the information warns against taking in these numbers as ‘hard evidence’ until the 2012 year is over. This I am not surprised to see: the reason being that the Call of Duty franchise has been rehashing the same content over and over again for the past few years. What this boils down to is the publishers are comfortable with the current build of the game, and since it makes money, they do not want to breathe innovation into their profitable franchise. Now Black Ops 2 has shown a slight degree of innovation when it comes to certain mechanics, but overall retains the all-familiar scripted, Hollywood-style game play which many fans of the series are used to seeing. Perhaps these numbers are starting to reflect a growing desire to see a bit more diversity than simply the same formula with a different paint job year after year. In which case all I can say is: good. The link to this story is located in the address below:
McGill University is not holding back when it comes to criticizing the Marois Government over their plan to cut spending for schools across the province. In an article from the Montreal Gazette; McGill University is worried that the $124-million cut which could severely damage the University’s ability to operate and expand. With the loss of a tuition increase, and $32 million subsidy nowhere to be seen, the university is worried it will run a deficit and have to figure out quickly how to manage the “financial decline of the educational system” (Montreal Gazette). This is going to hurt, especially if the opposition does not have the stomach to put up a fight. Post-secondary education in the province was unable to acquire more funding from the provincial government, and since the tuition-hike is out of the question, it will be difficult to advance their programmes, and add additional services for students. Now this particular topic is a very frustrating one; the main reason is the sheer lack of reason and backwards thinking that is displayed by the Marois government. The PQ tabled a new budget that will cut areas such as environment management, housing, primary and secondary school budgets, employment programs, assistance measures for families, economic development funds, natural resources, and the health care system. Now to add insult to injury, the PQ announced a $1.1 million spending increase for their Office de la langue Francaise: the French language ‘police’ as some would term them, whose duties are to enforce Quebec’s French-language laws. Now look at what I just said; and tell me that these cuts and reallocation of resources are both reasonable, and forward-thinking. They are not, and Marois probably knows this but has decided to forge ahead for the sake of her party’s ideology. Quebec is running a deficit: but suddenly chopping the budget for everything except for the QOLF is absurd. These cuts are scheduled to enter into effect in the next 4 months, and additional cuts are expected to come later down the road. I just hope that these cuts will not affect the post-secondary education system in a severe manner. The Office de la langue Francaise does not need more funding; and $1.1 million dollars extra is just going to mean additional suits walking around Montreal with the mandate of ordering people to think, speak, and live in a unilingual French manner. I would not be surprised if the commission on corruption finds evidence linking the mafia to the OLF and how they spend their money. One can see the mafia bribing the OLF so they can set up businesses in Montreal that do not even serve unilingual Francophones, and subsequently avoid fines that would be imposed on them because they have the OLF in their pockets. This is an absolute waste of money on a rather useless department, but whatever the case, unstable politics has been part of Quebec provincial history for about 50 years or so give or take. From the power companies in Quebec who over-charged some rural communities for less-than reliable electrical power, to the FLQ, to the 2 referendums; Quebec is simply going through a rough stage of puberty so to speak. Anyways, the link to the story as well as the subsequent quick glance at the budget is located in the links below:
This concludes the Saturday edition of the gazette. Check back on Wednesday, December 12th, 2012 for another addition to the gazette column. If you enjoyed reading the various editions of the gazette so far, please share this with your friends; it helps a lot to know that my work is enjoyable to read. If you have any suggestions for future editions, feel free to leave a comment in the suggestions tab at the top of the page. My name has been Vincent, and I shall see you next time.