The Mediocre Gazette. 15 December 2012
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another edition of the gazette. My name is Vincent, bringing you the latest round of news from the games industry, and this time from Quebec City, as well as from Montreal. You can leave suggestions for future editions in the comments section below, or in the suggestions tab at the top of the screen. In the headlines today: Quebec City is cited as having a fairly sizeable population of bilingual citizens, the Secret World MMO drops their subscription-based model, cynical attitudes loom over second education summit workshop, the United States and Canada decline to sign a UN telecoms treaty, and McGill University demands that their funds be restored.
The Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph posted a story on Wednesday, detailing a report which stated that 32 per cent of Francophones in Quebec City are bilingual. This was contrasted to Ottawa, where the Anglophone population that was bilingual only came in around 28 per cent. The article goes on to explain some differences in their study, as well as citing that Gatineau was the most bilingual with 65 per cent of the population, while Montreal came in at around 52 per cent. Now this is an interesting twist of events: Quebec City is usually a unilingual Francophone city as far as I am aware, however it is nice to see that there is a strong percentage living in the city that are bilingual. Now if only the population here in Vancouver – where a sizeable Francophone population lives – can learn from this example as well. A good start would be to provide provincial government paperwork in both official languages. A few friends of mine – all mentioned are from Quebec – explained how they were told by ICBC that they could not submit their paperwork in French. The end result was they had to find and pay for a translator to modify their paperwork so that they can return it in English. Now this is an issue that has been running around the provinces west of Manitoba for quite some time. When Trudeau announced official bilingualism, a good portion of the provinces signed on. One in particular even signed on and became officially bilingual; New Brunswick. The others that were west of Manitoba, along with some provinces east of Quebec were fairly reluctant to follow through with Trudeau’s orders. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia in particular all have little to no infrastructure in place to accommodate Francophones wishing to reside within those regions. Now in regards to government services such as tax forms, it is imperative that they be provided in both English and French, so that the Francophones not only feel included, but also as a valued part of this great nation. There is no doubt in my mind that Quebecers want to remain with Canada, and this has the PQ scared beyond belief. This is why they are trying to divide the population with their new ‘ideas’ and ‘suggestions’, something that I feel is not – nor will ever be – in the best interest of Quebec. With that said however, it would be nice to see a bit more lifting on our end so to speak, and help bilingual Francophones by providing something as simple as government paperwork in French. Ultimately, they wish to contribute to their new home in whichever province they reside in, and we as a people should help them achieve that. Together as one, equals strength. Divided; we are nothing more than circles of people who are powerless and weak. The link to this story is located in the address below:
After a disappointing launch, Funcom – the developers of the MMORPG The Secret World – have dropped their subscription model in favour of a free-to-play scheme. This comes on the heels of Star Wars the Old Republic; Bioware’s MMO which also went free-to-play a month or so prior to December. While monthly subscriptions are available to players who wish to receive additional in-game bonuses, the rest of the player base can expect to be able to log in for no cost. Now this move by Funcom is not surprising, considering how badly they performed with their MMO over the summer and into the fall season. With so many free-to-play titles like Guild Wars 2 and The Old Republic all offering players unique experiences for almost no cost (aside from optional micro-transactions), it was nearly a no-brainer that Funcom would follow the trend in hopes of increasing their player base. Right now the market is quite difficult to penetrate when it comes to MMOs, with thousands of indie titles available to players. The subscription model is a dying beast, and we are beginning to see that in many online games. The exception to this would be World of Warcraft; which lost a good percentage of its subscriber base, but is still able to maintain dominance of the MMO market. Now the game itself – like many other MMOs – would operate on micro transactions in order to make up for the lost subscription revenue. These transactions done in-game can still be a viable source of revenue should the player base be sizeable and willing to spend. In this economy, it is difficult to convince players to pay for a subscription when all the other titles have gone free-to-play, or are considering going that route. This decision by Funcom was a positive step in the right direction, and I wish them all the best as the current year draws to a close and the New Year begins. You can read more on this story in the link below:
Things are not looking well for the education sector in Quebec. The second education summit workshop began Thursday; but some participants enter the ‘playing field’ with a grim outlook on how things will go overall. The article from the Montreal Gazette details just how divided the two camps are: with one side calling for immediate funding from either the government, or another tuition hike proposal, and the other camp calling for free university. Now thus far the arguments have gone nowhere in terms of progress, as neither groups can see a compromise, further damaging the hope for a solution in the near future. Now here is the problem with what the free university camp is proposing: who will cover the cost going in the end? Nothing on this earth is technically ‘free’, as the cost will go somewhere eventually. Now the free university camp has called for the people to “invest in the future of our society” (Montreal Gazette), in which they propose taxes be allocated towards the payment of tuition so that university can become free of charge to students. Forward thinking, but where their plan starts to show cracks in the pavement is that the culture in North America has always stemmed around low taxes and high self-profits. What I mean by this is that North Americans in general dislike paying such high taxes, unlike their European counterparts: like Denmark, Norway, to list a few examples. Over there, taxes are roughly around 40 percent for most people, but the end result is many services like health care, and education, are ‘free’ of charge for their citizens. Now they believe in collectively moving forward, rather than going forward, individually. Over here in North America – and in the States particularly – citizens dislike government taxes, and begrudgingly pay them simply out of a need to keep a nation running. The idea is this: “Why should I, who keeps fit and healthy, pay for some fat bloke down the road who eats ten pizzas per day, drinks a ships’ worth of soda, and takes a mechanical chair everywhere?” It will be hard to call for more taxes when the very culture is less taxation, more personal savings. Again, very forward thinking, but for the moment – especially in hard economic times – there needs to be a compromise with a vision of how to move forward. Canada is not as self-obsessed as the States, but citizens still prefer minimal taxes, and maximum personal savings. Ultimately, an Ipod and a new car, is far more attractive than paying for someone else to have special dieting pills for their obesity. Whatever the case, I really hope the universities can come up with a solution that will keep any tuition hike minimal, while at the same time being able to operate at a reasonable pace, and lead the way in innovation and thought. The link to this article is located in the address below:
193 nations gather in Dubai to discuss revising global telecommunications rules. Now the article from CBC details just how divided the nations present at the gathering are: with countries like China, Iran, and Russia calling for more government control of the internet, whereas the western bloc have publically said no and are hoping to amend the treaty. Now the countries that were calling for government control have successfully changed the wording on the treaty to allow for a slightly stricter policy when it comes to governing the internet in domestic affairs. Now the UN itself was calling for a bit more government control, but as we saw last year or so with SOPA and PIPA in the United States, governmental control of the internet is not only dangerous, it can potentially stall progress when it comes to political, and economic freedoms. Among the list of those in support of the treaty include “China, Russia, Gulf Arab states, African nations, and others” (CBC). This is not at all surprising, as the nations mention usually are controlled by authoritarian governments that seek to limit criticism, and clamp down on organized protests. In fact the United Arab Emirates – the host country – had recently announced “stricter internet laws last month that outlaw postings such as insulting rulers or calling for protests” (CBC). That one sentence there should have users worried, as insulting a leader – even though it may be baseless – is what democracy is all about. Having the ability to outright criticise a leader and their policies is what makes a democracy healthy. Now if you were to strip that away per se, then what is left is an authoritarian government with democratic elements, rather than a proper democracy. This sort of ideological back and forth does not surprise me. There is a reason why we have nation-states, and why we have various coalitions, trade unions, and the works. There are parts of the world that are different: Plain, and simple. There is a rough, unifying factor (ie: same species); yet ultimately we are still different in the way we go about our daily lives. Thankfully the treaty is non-binding, and cannot force our hands, or the signatories, into compliance. Ultimately, the UN is only present to foster talks: it is never meant to govern sovereign nations. The link to this story is in the address below this paragraph:
McGill University’s board of governors are not happy with the recently announced 124 million dollar cut in their budgets, something that will severely damage the universities; according to a representative. The rest of the article goes on to describe just how the cuts would affect the university’s ability to grow and properly operate in the coming year of 2013. The very ability to work – according to a McGill representative – is at stake if no new funding options are made available. One can sympathize with the institutions on this one: the money has to come from somewhere, and if the tuition hike is out of the question, then the provincial government should have to contribute to the funding of these schools. Now the funding cuts are not just for the post-secondary sector, but the entire education system in Quebec, as well as other key sectors that are in desperate need of funds. Instead what the PQ government have opted to do was slash funding for all of the key sectors, except for their OLF (Office quebecois de la langue francaise) – also known as the Language police – who are receiving an additional 1.1 million dollars added to their budget. Right okay, so the Marois government announced they would get tough on spending, and yet they are generous enough to fund this rather useless office whose only duty –effectively – is to go about places, Montreal in particular, and check to see if French is being used in the work place. It goes beyond simple signs and services, as the OLF inspectors have reportedly gone into the back rooms, away from the front where customers are, and observed workers on break. If these workers spoke in any other language but French, they are threatened with fines if they do not ‘convert’ so to speak. How can the provincial government justify giving that office a raise in their annual budget allocation when they harm small businesses all over the region? It is absolute madness: they cannot provide funding for health care and education, yet there is ‘always’ money to give to their little Gestapo squadron? Unbelievable: yet this is the current state of things over in Quebec. Let us hope that the opposition will strike this new bill 14 down in the coming new year, as the approval of the budget was done out of a disinterest in forcing another provincial election. Interesting times we live in ladies and gentlemen, whatever the case the link to the story is located below:
Alright folks, that about wraps it up for this edition of the gazette. Tune in Wednesday, December 19th for another dose of gaming and Montreal news. Remember to leave a comment if you have any suggestions for future editions in the comments section below, or in the suggestions tab at the top of the page. My name has been Vincent, and I shall see you next time.