The Mediocre Gazette. 12 December 2012
Good day ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another edition of the mediocre gazette. My name is Vincent, bringing you the latest round of news from the games industry and from the little island of Montreal. You can leave suggestions for future editions in the comments section below this post, or in the suggestions tab at the top of the page. In the headlines today: possible new sweeping powers for language minister, a think tank warns against ‘quality assurance’ creeping into universities, the conservative government supports a bilingual bill in parliament, and the UK is offering tax relief to game developers only if their game is really British.
A section of bill 14, the PQ government’s new language legislation, would grant the language minister powers to hold a public inquiry should they so desire in order to attend to issues related to the status of French. Under the new bill 14, anyone who fails to cooperate, or sufficiently answers questions, could be charged with contempt. Thus far the Liberals have spoken out against this, with Marois in reply calling the Liberals fear mongers. Now this sort of ideologically-driven legislation is not at all surprising; after all it is the radicals within the PQ, alongside language coalitions – which call for the complete removal of English from Montreal in particular – who drove the PQ government to put forth this kind of legislation. The status of French it not at all at risk, and simply having a bilingual city is a threat to French in Quebec? This sort of ridiculous language politics is what the PQ government specializes in when it comes to running provincial affairs. They are simply side-stepping other, more important issues such as health care, corruption, and education, with their constant crusade – if I may be allowed of the phrase – against other languages. While spending for all other sectors is cut, a 1.1 million dollar increase was announced for the Office Quebecois de la Langue Francaise (OQLF): a reallocation of resources that is both unnecessary and counter-productive. Ultimately the PQ knows that Quebec is quite happy with their position within Canadian society, and realising that their platform is in danger of becoming irrelevant, seek to divide the population so that they can hold another referendum. Let us hope that the PQ government’s new bill 14 is struck down, as this can hurt small businesses in Quebec who up till this point; tolerated bill 101, understood, and accepted its’ purpose. You can find the link to this story in the address below this paragraph:
Universities are facing a new decade of unprecedented change, and that has some analysts worried. In an age where the marketability of a degree is what drives students to attend a particular school, there is a backlash against such a so-called “quality assurance”, according to Quebec’s Institut de recherché et d’informations socio-economiques, also known as the IRIS. Particularly what concerns the universities is that if they were to have their output of students kept track of as though they were a factory, then their independence will ultimately go up in flames. Essentially what this proposed trend will do is have a review board give out “quarterly statements” on how a university is performing. The end result; universities will be reviewed similar to businesses, and banks; something that McGill University fears will destroy their autonomy as they have to bend to market trends and produce a “product” that is worth the money. Now this is a very interesting concept of marketable degrees, because for the longest time many students go to university in hopes of earning a degree that will secure them a job that pays at least 50,000.00 annually. However with that said this whole concept is a myth; because when a student graduates from a 4-year institution, they have to take hold of whatever job they can get, and then start to search for something better down the road. Apart from preparing students for life in the work force, universities also engage in research; especially ones without a special purpose designation: such as the polytechnic title. How can a university conduct meaningful research when it is under pressure to perform so that they can produce a good quarterly statement? It is understandable that a university must meet the demands of an ever-changing job market, but there is also something meaningful that comes from such institutions like McGill, Simon Fraser, and UBC to name a few. This autonomy is necessary if they are to continue to do the type of work that many people would not have the patience to do, and produce results that – in the short term – may not immediately pay off. Yet in the long run – like the PC games market – there is a long term sales benefit so to speak, something that will have an even longer life cycle if it develops a strong, supportive, community. This story ties into the whole, ongoing dialog surrounding the future evolution of universities, and this will continue for quite some time. Regardless, what I say is my opinion. What the institutions do it entirely up to them. You can find the link to this story in the address below:
The Harper government has bent to internal pressure from the House of Commons to adopt a bill that will make bilingualism a requirement for any officer of Parliament appointed to a committee. According to the Globe and Mail, the Conservatives have placed their support behind an NDP-proposed bill that will make positions such as the auditor-general, the chief electoral officer, and various other positions of Parliament who sit to hear cases from MPs, require fluent bilingualism from the applicant or appointed persons. Now this is a step in the right direction, as persons working in Parliaments’ high offices should represent all Canadians, and as such must be bilingual. Both French and English is already a requirement for military officers, thus it is important to also have appointed positions in Parliament – alongside MPs – require a candidate to be fluently bilingual should they want to hold a position of leadership. If a Member of Parliament wants to speak in their official language of choice, they should be allowed to do so, similar to how anyone would be able to request government paperwork in either French, or English. Ultimately as a nation, our leaders and officers must be symbolic of this union, therefore they must be bilingual. Anything less is unacceptable, and could serve to divide us; something that is not beneficial to either party involved. You can read more on this story in the address below this paragraph:
The British government is offering a tax relief to game developers in the country which was cited as the most generous out of all the countries in the world. However there are conditions, such as the game depicting British cultural events, characters, and other related subjects. Many game developers who produce a product that has no clear geographical setting, or who have no characters or story, may find it hard to get this tax relief. Now at the moment, much of the details are unclear as this is only a recently unveiled plan by the UK’s finance ministry. We will have to see what they say, and what amendments go into this new tax relief before we can finalize an opinion on the situation. Games that are based on the UK, set in the UK, or meet the majority of the requirements in a way, will find it easy to apply for the tax relief. This move makes sense, as games developed in the UK that seeks government funding should ideally hold some resemblance to the nation in which it is developed as a way of thanking the government for the tax relief. Yet with that said, this could potentially harm the developers in the sense that their game may not be entirely their own creation, but rather another cultural product from another country. Games are enjoyed by a world-wide audience; games like Halo and World of Warcraft. These games must be nation-neutral – if I may be allowed the phrase – should they wish not to ignite any form of political debate. Placing restrictions on a game when it comes to tax relief, can potentially make a title politically charged, and thus reduces the sales volume of that particular title. The trickle-down effect will come in the form of lost profits, in which the company – regardless of the tax relief – will have to close their doors as they simply could not make enough money. Ultimately what the UK government is saying is: “We will finance your project, so long as it is a cultural product that we can use to teach the world about our nation.” Whether or not the developers take the tax relief is their own choice; yet it is not like they are being given more taxes to pay for making a game that is not even remotely based on anything British. If the game is any good, it will sell. If it is not, then tough luck developers. People will not spend their hard-earned money on some poorly made title with poor graphics, and a badly-written story. Anyways, you can read more about this story in the link below:
Right folks, this is it for this Wednesday edition of the gazette. Check back Saturday, December 15th for another dose of games industry and Montreal news. My name has been Vincent, and I shall see you next time.