Archive | January 2013

The Telegraphed Gazette. 26 January 2013

Hello everybody, and welcome back to the Telegraphed Gazette for the 26th of January 2013: my name is Vincent, bringing you the latest round of news from Montreal, the games industry, as well as a few select stories. You can leave suggestions for future editions in the comments section below this article, or in the suggestions tab at the top of the page. In the headlines today: former Canadian Forces commander raises some concerns over DND’s spending on private contractors, Minister Lisee gives some hints into the Parti Quebecois’ new sovereignty strategy, THQ is divided and sold off,  and Vigil Games closes its doors.

 

Retired Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie comments on some dangers that the Canadian Forces could face should the spending continue down this road. CBC recently got received a copy of a report in which Lt.Gen. Leslie comments on how the rise in spending for private contractors and services for the Canadian Forces can hurt the Canadian Forces as the money being spent on corporate services is not being spent on the soldiers who serve in the military. Leslie raises some concerns over how 22% of the operational budget for the military was slashed, and in turn the funds were allocated towards more private services. Currently the Minister of Defence has defended the spending, stating that these private services are necessary in their efforts to support the men and women in uniform. Now this issue I felt was important to include in this week’s edition of the gazette, as I am a supporter of our military here in Canada. Now at first I was upset when I read this article about how the military was seeing a reduction in their operational budget, and yet spending for the military has increased. Private services should only be contracted on an as need to basis, and should never take precedence over spending for the actual military itself. Now if the Minister of Defense can justify why the money is going to private services and not the military, and what sort of services are being contracted instead of making a blanket statement covering all the elements, then I might support this action. Yet at the present time all I see going on is private contract after private contract taking priority over spending to better our military capabilities. I understand there are also companies out there who work on a fixed budget, making supplies for the military; they are not my concern. What I am taking aim at so to speak, are companies who waste time by sending in surveyors to “inspect” various installations and garrisons. If they are paying six-digit salaries to some pen-pusher who only develops reports on the military, rather than creating concrete ideas for the military to move forward with – in areas such as procurement, training, or operational readiness – then this “special service” should frankly be tossed out the window. It would be similar to if Parliament struck two-hundred subcommittees to review a department, all the while raising spending on that department, in which the actual department in question sees less and less of as the years go on. Sadly it would be foolish to hope that in the near future – ie: 6 months – this issue gets resolved; rather I just hope it gets resolved “soon.” You can read the full article in the link below this topic.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/01/19/pol-the-house-retired-lieutenant-general-andrew-leslie.html

 

Quebec Cabinet minister Jean-Francois Lisee has made note of a new strategy to promote Quebec sovereignty according to the Montreal Gazette. Minister Lisee hinted towards the PQ’s sovereignty ‘action plan’ in a speech given to university students on Wednesday, January 23, 2013; and stated that the relationship between Quebec and Canada is similar to a couple in their final stage. Lisee stated that the “couple” is in their final phase, and that they are indifferent to one another; to which he added that it might be a good time to push forth with the sovereignty agenda in order to further improve Quebec as their current position in Canada is deterring them from doing just that. Now further into the article it states that the PQ will announce their “action plan” sometime around February 8th or 9th in the council meeting in Drummondville, Quebec; and that their strategy is aiming to promote the benefits of independence, as well as to sell it in a more comforting manner. Lisee also attempted to briefly promote the idea by citing that 50 percent of Canadians feel no attachment towards the province of Quebec, and therefore they should consider leaving as they are not warmly cherished by the rest of the nation.

First thing I have to say is this: so this is where the money that was slashed from education, infrastructure, and health care is going towards. The PQ government released to the OLF a good 23.4 million dollar increase in their budget, and now they plan on spending tax payer dollars on promoting a new sovereignty agenda. This is not at all surprising, because the Parti Quebecois has always had their platform set on independence. Any hope of the sovereignty debate fully disappearing from Quebec politics is futile, for the PQ government, along with the language coalition which promotes and seeks to establish a unilingual Quebec; both desire separation from Canada. This party and their supporters do not have the interests of all Quebecers at heart, but they never did to begin with. Now what is interesting to note is how the National Assembly has reacted to this message. The Liberals and the Quebec Solitare have openly criticized this announcement, along with the Coalition Avenir Quebec. All three parties are stating that Marois must respect the wishes of Quebecers, who only gave her a minority government in the fall of 2012. Quebecers are going to be in for yet another round of independence campaigns; which could have the adverse effect on the PQ government. Now some of you may not be aware of this, but many Quebecers feel that the PQ government is out of touch with the rest of the populace: aside from their usual collection of hardcore loyalists. Speaking to a few friends from Quebec, it is clear that the majority of citizens have gotten over past wrongs done by Ottawa, and are now no longer in a “committed relationship” with the Parti Quebecois, if they were even in one to begin with. Ultimately what this could do to the Parti Quebecois is put it into its’ final stages of “retirement” so to speak as Quebecers look to the other parties in the National Assembly when it comes to provincial governance. You can read the full article as well as an additional piece in the section below this paragraph.

http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/minister+Jean+Fran%C3%A7ois+Lis%C3%A9e+hints+party+sovereignty/7862591/story.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2013/01/23/pq-sovereignty-campaign.html

 

 

Some grim news for those of you hoping to see THQ survive through its financial woes; the company has been divided amongst various publishers and developers. According to gamasutra.com, THQ was divided in 24 hours by Sega who took on Relic, Koch Media who took Volition, as well as the Metro series, Crytek who took the Homefront series, Take 2 who snatched Evolve, and Ubisoft who took THQ Montreal and Obsidian’s South Park game. The company was unable to make a last minute purchase, and as a result it became bankrupt and had to sell off all her assets. A side note: Clearlake Capital Group did not get a piece of the prize as the CEO decided to opt for higher bids on individual assets rather than a wholesale purchase by Clearlake Capital. Not all the assets were successfully sold off, as Vigil Games – the studio behind Darksiders and Darksiders 2 – were unable to find a purchaser, and were forced to lay off all of her staff. Now this does not mean that the staff at the other studios are safe, as stated in the information on the article, a memo was sent around detailing any plans to take on the current staff is entirely up to the new owners of each asset. Assets unsold will remain with THQ until a suitable buyer is found.

Well this is a rather sad story: THQ was a well reputed developer, and all her assets were of the highest quality when it comes to games development. It is definitely sad to hear that so many talented people will be released from service so to speak as the company ruptures and breaks off into fragments. Certainly we all hoped that THQ would remain in one piece, but unfortunately it is not the case, and with the sale of her assets, this spells the end of one of – in my opinion – the best developers, of which also goes a talented team who spent years making the best video games on the market. Many of my games: such as the Warhammer 40k Dawn of War series, Darksiders, and Red Faction Guerrilla, all were from THQ, all were equally entertaining and I will confess to spending countless hours on the titles mentioned and more. Yet reality is what it is, and although THQ did her best to remain afloat, the company has fallen on hard times and can no longer sustain itself. Ultimately the games industry is a competitive industry, and with one age behind us, another begins as the assets start new “lives” with their new families. Hopefully we will see THQ reborn in the not so distant future as either a new brand, or a complete rebirth with the old team. You can read the full article in the link below this paragraph.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/185343/THQ_cut_up_and_sold_off.php#.UQDSuGdWJJM

 

With the end of THQ, and no buyers in sight, Vigil Games is forced to close its doors and release the staff from service. According to gamasutra.com, THQ could not find a buyer in Wednesday’s auction, and as such Vigil Games will have to dissolve her Austin team and the developers, artists, and software engineers to name a few will have to find work elsewhere. This is sad news indeed as previously mentioned in the article above, Vigil Games were the makers of the Darksiders series, and were a very talented team of which it is a shame to see that their recently released Darksiders 2 did not do so well in the 2012 summer months, and such could have attributed to THQ’s downfall. There is not much else to say as all this unfolded rather quickly on the 23rd of January. With the end of studios such as Gas Powered Games and Vigil Games, it is indeed a very sad time for those working in the games industry. You can read this story as well as the subsequent open letter by Vigil’s Ben Cureton in the address below this paragraph.

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/185352/Without_a_buyer_Vigil_loses_more_than_a_few_jobs_It_loses_a_team.php#.UQDSvWdWJJM

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/185513/I_failed_to_find_Vigil_a_home.php#.UQSBZ2dWJJM

 

That concludes this week’s edition of the Telegraphed Gazette. Check back next Saturday, February 2nd 2013 for another round of select stories from Montreal, the games industry, and other select stories of my choosing. Once again you can leave a suggestion/comment in the section below this story, or in the suggestions tab at the top of the page. Before I go, I just would like to clarify where the comments section is: when you click on the title of the article, it will bring you to the article on its own page, and beneath the article is the comments section. Note that the comments section will not appear on the main page as only publications appear on the front page to save space and help visitors access the content. Thank you all for reading; my name has been Vincent, and I will see you all next time.

The Telegraphed Gazette: Special edition. 19 January 2013

Greetings ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Telegraphed Gazette for the 19th of January 2013. My name is Vincent, bringing you this special edition of news from Montreal. You can leave suggestions for future editions at the suggestions tab at the top of the screen, or in the comments section below. Now before I go on, this week’s edition is titled a special edition, because the second topic is a rather lengthy post. Now I understand that I can cram other stories into this one gazette, but I feel that it is important to focus in on certain key issues, and give quality commentary towards the topic in question. Apologizes to those readers who enjoy my usual harvest of news which includes the games industry; the problems of finance within Quebec universities is something I feel requires a bit more time to elaborate on and thus I have opted to focus on that for this week. Coming in today’s post: A new Quebec separatist group springs up in the province, and finally the battle over Quebec university financing continues alongside the discussion over the university funding gap in Quebec.

 

On Monday the CBC published an article detailing a new separatist group – Le Nouveau Mouvement pour le Quebec – and its call for a united front when it comes to Quebec independence. Summarizing the article; it states that the group is inviting citizens, and other party members of the Quebec National Assembly to meet at a conference on May 10, 11, and 12 to discuss how to form a united front for Quebec independence. Citing a few polls, they state that the time to act is now, and that they should engage in dialogue with Ottawa concerning independence, eventually becoming a “free nation,” (CBC). Now I find this movement coming forth with the concept of unity laughable. The reason for this is because every separatist movement calls for unity, but the issue with this idea is that there are so many factions in Quebec, all of whom hold different ideas of how an independent Quebec would look like in the future. Adding to this is the fact that only 30% of Quebec truly desire independence. The rest of the province is uninterested in separation, let alone going through the years of hardship that will come as a result of the need to create a currency, write a constitution, re-write laws, and formulate a military and diplomatic corps, to name some challenges. This sort of separation ‘noise’ – as I like to call it – is nothing new in Quebec. Though the people are not interested in leaving the nation, politicians will always attempt to persuade the populace into believing in their cause. This sort of attitude is likely to continue, given the history of Quebec, and the various factions in the province with their individual agendas. You can read the full article in the section below:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2013/01/14/montreal-quebec-sovereignist-group.html

 

The universities in the province of Quebec are going through some rough times: with the PQ government’s plan to cut post-secondary spending by 124 million dollars for this fiscal year, and the loss of a tuition raise, the universities are wondering how they are to pay for their operations and expansions. Now this particular issue comes from two articles that will be posted below, which one article which details a growing gap in funding, and the second discussing a battle over two camps: those who believe universities are struggling due to a lack of funds, and those who believe the struggle comes from mismanagement. Now there is also two other camps who are not fighting over mismanagement or a lack of funds, but who should front the money for post-secondary education. All three aspects play a vital role in the fight over finance in Quebec’s universities, so let us begin with those who battle over who should pay for it.

Two camps currently exist when it comes to the battle over university finance: those that wish to see more government money pour into the institutions, and those who wish to see students pay a bit more for their education. Now here is where the problem comes in; both groups are fixated on their ideology and are unwilling to have a bit of center-ground compromise, so to speak. Yet both sides are overlooking the obvious truth: neither camp can cover the costs alone, especially in the current economic state. The government in this economic downturn, is experiencing a high debt ceiling, and a demand for more services from its citizens who themselves may be facing hard times ahead. The government offices cannot front all of the funds, but neither can the students, who are often on student loans to off-set the cost of their tuition to a later date when they will be able to pay it back. One can advocate raising the taxes, but the local populace are already facing hardships, and if the government requires more money to finance education, they will have to ask the people to pay more on their income in order to fuel such endeavours. This may in turn lead to backlash that could see the complete withdrawal of government spending towards universities. Thus we come to the second aspect of the greater picture: the mismanagement of funds, verses the lack of available funds.

Professors deserve attractive salaries, but not if the amount of money exceeds presidential incomes, as stated in the article detailing the financial battle. Administrative salaries are fairly high when it comes to income scales, and as such this may be where most of the money is going towards. Now it is important to offer attractive salaries to professors and administrators in order to hire the best and the brightest. Yet a professor should never look towards working at a particular university on the single aspect that their personal wallet will become enlarged as a result of the income they receive from the institution. There should be more to being a professor than simply earning six-digit salaries; research opportunities, and extra benefits from the institution, can be offered to balance out the competitiveness. Yet I am curious to wonder what other project as the universities in Quebec invested towards, and whether or not they are actually relevant to the institutions themselves. Now the argument: “the universities are struggling due to a lack of funds” is not entirely baseless and irresponsible. While mismanagement is a key issue, the availability of funds is also a concern. Coming back to my few points over the two camps, the universities need funds in order to function and develop as institutions of higher learning. The PQ government chopped their promised subsidization, which was to take place of the proposed tuition hike, in turn resulting in the universities having to scramble to find money elsewhere, or to re-distribute their budgets towards key areas in order to continue to function. The money has to come from somewhere, and I understand the need to keep tuition prices low, yet those who were protesting, are paying about 2,422 dollars per year, whereas students from outside of Quebec – who are still domestic students I might add – shell out 6,112 dollars per year. This is not including books, and housing, all of which add up to be between 16,979 to 21,401 for Quebec students, and 20,699 – 25,091 for other Canadian students. Now that is for students living in residence; a student living at home, from Quebec, will pay only 5,047 dollars per year. 5,047 for an education at a university like McGill is not a terrible deal, not to mention that the return in future years after graduation is – if the student works in the same field of study and is able to enter the field – a highly educated individual who can enter job categories only offered to those with the relevant educational qualifications. A simple brick layer (not saying they are any less valuable, I am merely using that trade as an example) cannot enter environmental research, whereas a student with a background in sciences can.

Now here comes the interesting part; “why, should I pay so much for education; why isn’t the government able to pay for it instead?” First off, the government will have to raise taxes in order to pay for all students to go to university for free, a move that is highly unpopular, both with the private industry, and the populace at large. Before I go on, yes private companies make lots of money off natural resources and manufacturing, and yes they probably could pay more in corporate taxes. However they are not chained to this country, and are therefore free to leave should they so desire. The end result is some companies who are honest and loyal to Canada, may end up leaving as a result of increased corporate taxes. Let us not even begin with the dishonest ones, but ultimately my point is made. There are limitations to what we can do to companies before they begin to pack up shop and move abroad, to which we will then see a loss in jobs, and therefore disenfranchised workers who are upset over rampant government taxation. Perfect example would be when the PQ government implemented Bill 101; many businesses in Montreal moved to Toronto, helping that city rise to prominence over Montreal. Putting all the usual noise and banter aside: taxation is not an easy issue to overcome, with this question constantly coming up in meetings: “How can we provide the most for our citizens, while asking for the appropriate amount from them, and not overburdening them in the process?”

Everywhere I look, I will see students investing in cars, IPods, new mountain bikes, fancy clothes, new tablets, smart phones, and even vacations to Mexico; and they claim that tuition is too expensive? Right okay, so you are willing to spend money on depreciating assets, assets that lack any real benefit aside from temporary relief and entertainment, and not invest in your own future? My dear friends let me put it in the most simplistic way possible: when you educate yourselves, you will be able to buy more IPods, tank tops, Toyotas, and/or tablet devices. Forget children, family and all that jazz for a moment here; let us focus on the immediate future. If a student invests in their education after carefully weighing the options of which educational path best suits their needs and abilities, if successful – and there is a good, but not guaranteed, chance that they are – they will be able to afford all those toys they wanted in life, that they previously could not afford due to a lack of income. Shortly thereafter, they will be able to contribute to various non-profit organizations via bits of financial support, instead of labour, which is ample if you know where to look. They could even afford to adopt an orphan, something in which – if they are properly raised – can in turn benefit the nation as that orphan could one day grow up to become yet another productive member of society. Perhaps they would teach, become a judge, become part of the civil administration, and the list goes on. Having a stable income because of higher education – that being trade school, college, or university – can do more for you than if you allocated funds to buy that shiny new Honda.

I know it is a difficult pill to swallow: believe me if money was not a issue, I would spend a decade and a half learning from schools like McGill, Oxford, and Cambridge; taking on various programs to further increase the wealth of knowledge I have now. Yet the reality remains; money is an issue. There is a reason why student loans exist; as I have said earlier, it is to off-set the costs to a later date when you will be able to pay it off. It is not a free ticket to go study and walk away debt free; rather it is an investment that will pay-off in the long term. Further down the road, you will be able to decide with greater confidence and accuracy, which investment best suits the interests of yourself, and later on your family. I hate to use this cheesy line, but that is: “advice you can bank on.” Believe me when I say that there is a better future: but choosing to purchase that car, instead of investing into training and education, is not the answer to a better future. Like it or not, professors have to be paid as well. If they educated you for free, will you in turn be willing to work for free? No, you would not. Everyone wants to be compensated for their time; that is the reason why we came up with money. It is a piece of material with which to trade, rather than barter with whatever crap we have lying around in our house. With that, came value, and with that, came the idea that our time is precious, and it is in reality. Time is gold, and we all want to be compensated for our time.

Ultimately the financial situation for universities in Quebec is going to be grim in the coming months. When the PQ government promised that they would subsidize the universities, there was hope that all the financial issues in which they were hoping to solve via a tuition increase would be resolved with the stroke of a pen. Instead when the PQ withdrew this promise, and – in my opinion, with the reallocation of funds to the OLF – subsequently allocated what little they had to a useless department, the universities were once again faced with the question they were hoping to tackle months ago. Let us hope that they can come to a conclusion, with compromises from both sides, so that the students are not once again left to hang out in the sun. You can read more on the issue in the links below this article.

Battle growing over Quebec university financing:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Battle+growing+over+Quebec+university+financing/7818665/story.html

University funding gap in Quebec is growing:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/University+funding+Quebec+growing+institutions/7824019/story.html

McGill University Viewbook 2012:

https://secureweb.mcgill.ca/undergraduate-admissions/sites/mcgill.ca.undergraduate-admissions/files/viewbook_2012_eng.pdf

 

This concludes the Saturday edition of The Gazette. Tune in next Saturday for more news related to Montreal, and the games industry. If you have any suggestions for future posts, please leave the comments in the box below, or in the suggestions tab at the top of the screen. My name has been Vincent, and I will see you next time.

Update. 17 January 2013

Evening readers: just thought I would make a short update to inform you all of what is going on with: “The Mediocre Gazette,” and other publications here on Thoughts and Topics. Starting things off is my idea to change the title of “The Mediocre Gazette,” to: “The Telegraphed Gazette.” Now this name change comes in the wake of a suggestion I received earlier in the week. A co-worker of mine suggested that outside readers may not understand why I call my section: “The Mediocre Gazette.” In all honesty, without my explanation into why I call my paper as such, readers who stumble upon this publication on their own may feel that it is substandard quality, which is far from the case. Therefore I have opted for a bit of a more professional title for my paper.

The second topic on the agenda is in relation to the other sections of the blog. To be honest, I really have little to no interest in producing pieces for those categories at this time, as the gazette seems to tickle my interests, far more than certain topics I had previously thought of. Adding to this dilemma, is the fact that if I wanted to voice an opinion on a particular topic, it will most likely be on something related to the games industry or Montreal, therefore it will wind up as a special edition of the gazette. Occasionally there will be pieces I want to publish on my blog, but right now that seems unlikely. Yet those sections will not disappear; I am simply stating that they will remain on hiatus until further notice, or until I have something to add towards those categories.

Finally, the overall layout of the blog: nothing radical is going to occur in the coming months towards the layout of the blog. I feel that the colour scheme, and images used are appropriate as they represent my love and interest to write. After all, if I did not like to write, I would not blog. Now in terms of how to access the comments section, if you are on the main page, you can simply click the title of the article which is in bold and larger than the rest of the text in the article to access the article itself. Once on the lone article, you can then write something in the comments section all the way at the bottom should you so desire. Alternatively, there is a small box with the date, title, and comments option located towards the top left of each article on the main page. Simply click on: “Leave a Comment” and you will be brought to the reply section. Alternatively, if the user wishes, he or she can access the suggestions tab at the very top of the page. Just above the image towards the top right hand side of the black bar, is: “About myself,” “The Mediocre Gazette,” and “Suggestions.” Clicking on the “suggestions” tab will open up a short description, and the comments section below.

This brings us to the conclusion of this update piece: check back Saturday for a special edition of the Telegraphed Gazette, talking about the current financial situation in Quebec’s universities. My name has been Vincent, and I will see you next time.

The Mediocre Gazette: late edition. 12 January 2013

Good evening my dear readers, and welcome to another edition of the mediocre gazette for the 12th of January 2013. My name is Vincent, bringing you this weekly dose of news from the games industry, and from the city of Montreal. Before I go on, apologizes for this rather late edition of the gazette: it completely slipped my mind: thus I had forgotten to edit it and post it earlier today. Games on my steam account are just that good, and sadly distracting as well. Also, in case you were all wondering, WordPress.com runs on –what I assume – an east coast server, thus when I post anything after 5pm Pacific Standard Time, it will show up as the next day. Rest assured that I did not forget how to read a calendar; rather it is how the server is set up. Keep in mind that I run on Pacific Standard Time as I am based on the west coast, and assuming the site is based back east, differences in time estimates will exist. Nevertheless, the stories and news you care about will always arrive; even if the hour is late. Now onto the news you care about. In the headlines today: THQ is denied quick bankruptcy sale in the wake of creditor complaints, Apple looses ground on their ‘App Store’ battle with Amazon.com, Gamestop investors are uneasy over Sony’s patent that could lock down used games, work in the game development work isn’t as exciting as it is cut out to be, and Westmount’s Victoria Village is changing.

Publisher THQ continues to suffer through some serious financial issues as a U.S. court has denied the publisher’s quick bankruptcy sale, exclaiming that THQ did not give potential buyers enough time to place a competitive bid. Some of you may be aware; last month THQ filed for bankruptcy, and stated that Clearlake Capital Group was offering to front 60 million dollars to acquire the business. This acquisition includes all the studios, and games currently in development. Now I pulled another article from Gamasutra.com in which it details just how the situation is going for THQ. The creditors involved are upset over the fact that THQ has not given more time for other companies, such as Warner Bros. Entertainment, to place a bid on the publisher. Currently THQ is in desperate need of a bankruptcy loan, which must be paid off by January 15th of this year. Thus far it seems – if I am not mistaken – like a battle between the creditors, and the publisher itself. Now I am going to take a guess as to why the creditors are frustrated with how THQ has handled its financial affairs thus far: because the deal with Clearlake was a somewhat closed-door affair, the creditors may not have benefited from the rather sudden deal (if it was to go through). Therefore they are asking THQ to provide more time for other companies with interests in the publisher to place a more attractive bet than simply settling for whatever Clearlake wanted. Part of the issue – according to the second article in question – is the fact that the creditors are unsecured, meaning that they may not even see a cut of the deal should it have taken place. Not only that; it appears that THQ wants to secure this deal, mainly because it would enable the management executives to retain their positions when the transfer takes place, and once the transfer is complete. This – to me – seems like a classic example of corporate infighting, and we are bound to see more and more stories related to this drama come to light over the next few weeks. You can find the links to both the stories in the addresses below this article:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/184395/THQ_denied_quick_bankruptcy_sale_in_wake_of_creditor_complaints.php#.UOvBG3ckRJM

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/184327/THQs_creditors_cry_foul_over_Clearlake_plans.php#.UOvBs3ckRJM

Apple has suffered a setback following a judge’s decision to dismiss the claim that Amazon’s use of ‘App Store’ is misleading, and are therefore false advertising. According to the article on Gamasutra.com; Apple had filed a complaint in 2011, stating that Amazon is infringing on Apple’s trademark – App Store – and that it provides unfair competition for the company. Now the U.S. District Judge has said that Amazon’s App Store features are nothing near similar to Apples, and thus the consumers are unlikely to confuse the two. Other portions of Apple’s complaints; such as alleged trademark infringement, is still scheduled to go on trial in August. Now this story is not surprising: Apple wants a monopoly. Why else would they take such a course of action? They dislike people using the word ‘App Store,’ a title – I might add – that is publically available to companies, and where other devices also utilize the title to advertise “Applications.” I certainly hope that the Judge set to reside over the complaint of trademark infringement will walk a similar path as the Judge on January 4th, and strike down Apple’s complaint. There is nothing far worse than a monopoly, and Apple needs to learn that it cannot trademark ‘App.” You can find the link to this story in the section below:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/184328/Apple_suffers_blow_in_Amazon_App_Store_complaint.php#.UOvE5nckRJM

Investors in Gamestop – a video game retailer – are quite nervous over Sony’s plan to make their next generation console unable to play used games. Currently Gamestop houses an inventory of used games, and what the patent will do is lock down a game using RFID numbers on the game disk; in turn making them unplayable aside from the console in which they were originally activated on. Now this has investors worried, and with good reason as well. What essentially is going to happen – if this plan goes through – is Sony will lock down games using this patent, in turn making the longevity of their console shrink due to a lack of a healthy community who probably is not interested in purchasing a game brand new. Most players would like to try out a game before buying it, and even simple acts such as lending a game to a friend will become impossible thanks to the patent proposed by Sony. The article on Gamasutra.com is correct to note that this will then give Sony’s competition: Xbox, and Nintendo, a competitive edge over the system as they still allow used games to be played on their consoles. Now this whole fight against used games is ridiculous, as many of the titles produced for the PS3 are third party developments. When a publisher realizes that their game will not reach a wider audience, and that they have to invest more into marketing, they will simply move onto another platform and develop for that one instead. The act of lending a game to a friend is essentially free advertising, and if Sony kills the used game market for their console, there goes the free advertising. Not only that, what happens when a title becomes old; as in 10 years of age? Some games are only available via the second-hand market, and if Sony locks down their games, then instead of recycling a game, it will simply become another piece of garbage in the landfill. Hopefully Sony will come to their senses and withdraw from this idea before they damage their own business; as it stands right now, with them being billions of dollars in debt, they cannot afford to make stupid moves. The link to this story is located in the address below:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/184306/GameStop_investors_spooked_by_Sony_patent_that_could_lock_out_used_games.php#.UOvGz3ckRJM

Gamasutra.com released an article on January 9th 2013 talking about the advantages, and disadvantages of working in the games industry. Summarizing the fairly sizeable article; game developers often work long hours, with unpaid overtime, have their intellectual rights ignored, and are forced to sign away their creations. Other disadvantages such as poor work-life balance, musculoskeletal disorders, and burnout, are a common occurrence in the industry. Now it is nice to see a site like Gamasutra.com talk about the realities of working in the games industry: many teenagers and young adults, who play games, also want to develop games. The image in their head is a highly successful developer making millions of dollars, and having their works consumed by the global populace. What Gamasutra.com has done, is it has brought the dark side of the industry to light, that being a lack of worker protection laws, and moderate salary scales. Now this is fairly accurate to a strong degree, as the games industry – like the film industry – is a heavily contested realm to work in. Consumers are not stupid, especially with today’s economy; therefore they will look for a game that is worth their hard-earned money. They may not like a particular idea presented to the market, and thus the product does not sell. Ultimately what this means is the next time this developer wishes to fund a project, he or she will be under more scrutiny than ever before due to their past history. Now the article does speak of those with a strong passion for the industry, and like many other industries out there, it takes an insane amount of work to get somewhere. The thing is – and I am generalizing here – many wannabe game developers are only motivated to enter this line of work because it is perceived as “easy.” Playing games is easy, actually developing a quality title that will be held to a high regard, is quite challenging. Imagine not leaving the office for a few days to get the final bits of code and data into place for the tech demo, eating maybe two meals a day, and sleeping in a bed roll under your desk. Sadly this is a reality for many game studios, as these projects can take months to complete, and still require many more hours of work to make ready for the demos, or even release. No industry is easy, and this article’s message seems to be the case. The link to this story is located in the address below:

http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/184504/are_game_developers_standing_up_.php

In an article released on the 9th of January, CBC has reported that Westmount’s Victoria Village – an area previously known for independent retailers – is now seeing an increase of big box retailers. According to the article, some residents are unhappy with the change, citing that original products are only sold in independent retailers. Yet the people interviewed are realistic, as they know since the items are original, they tend to cost more in an independent retailer than if they were commonly available. This fact, coupled with rising taxes in Quebec, paints a fairly grim picture when it comes to the future of small businesses in Montreal. Now before I go on, I must explain that Westmount is an enclave city within Montreal, and that it has its own municipal government. However when you look on the map, it is within the borders of the greater city of Montreal; just a fact I thought my readers would find interesting. Now returning to the topic at hand, yes it is a depressing sight to see: nothing hurts more than to see local businesses go under because they cannot afford the property tax, and because their products are too expensive. While this is grim news indeed, it is reality. Consumers – especially over the past few years – are reluctant to purchase something that costs more. One can argue quality, but at the end of the day, when money is tight, it is difficult to place the quality aspect forward. The end result is small businesses cannot make a profit, nor a living off the products they sell, and are therefore forced to sell their lot and move onto other lines of work. Now I am not going to say that this disappearance of some businesses around Victoria Village in Westmount is a sign that all small businesses are going under; for this cannot be far from the truth. Montreal is known for their small businesses, and as such, even though there is a loss of businesses in and around Victoria Village, small businesses will continue to thrive within the city of Montreal in general. The only issue they truly face is simply harassment from the OLF over linguistic concerns. Apart from that, chances are when people visit they will find plenty of small businesses in and around the area offering an assortment of goods. Just because the news says that things are bad in a single spot, does not mean they are bad for the entire region. The link to this story is located in the address below:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2013/01/09/quebec-montreal-westmount-victoriavillage.html

That about wraps things up for this addition to the gazette; again apologies for this rather late post, I know I promised Saturday, but I completely forgot, and chances are it is Sunday when this gazette edition is consumed. Nevertheless, for next week expect yet another edition on Saturday, January 19th 2013. I hope you all enjoyed reading this, have a safe week ahead, and I will see you next time.

The Mediocre Gazette. 5 January 2013

Greetings readers and welcome to the 2013 New Year; I trust your celebrations were both enjoyable, and memorable. Now that the New Year has begun, it is time to return to the schedule of the gazettes; to which I will welcome you back to the mediocre gazette for the 5th of January 2013. My name is Vincent, bringing you the latest round of news from the games industry, as well as from the – now snow encrusted – city of Montreal. You can leave suggestions for future editions in the comments section below this edition, or in the suggestions tab at the top of the page. In the headlines today: a town in Connecticut plans on burning violent video games, STM did not seek legal advice on English requirement, more police officers to walk the beat this year, and Montreal is cited as being one of only a handful of unique cities in this world.

 

A town in Connecticut – Southington – plans on hosting a day where they would collect and destroy violent video games. The story on IGN details how the event would take video games – willingly forfeited – collect them in a rubbish bin, and later incinerate the disks. Now the story goes on to quote a few, what I assume to be, spokespersons for the event in which all they want to do is encourage parents to speak to their kids about violence in video games. This is a classic example of a small town overreacting to recent events, in which the paranoia has fueled rather questionable actions. There is no correlation between violence in youth, and video games. Credible studies done thus far, show no correlation, and as such the media is simply cashing in on recent events like the unfortunate school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. I suppose this is somewhat directly linked to the event, with Southington being in the same state as Newtown, though I question the soundness of such an action. Should Southington then proceed to destroy DVD and blue ray films? What about Nerf guns, Star Wars light sabers, and toy M16s sold in Dollar Stores? South Korea has a massive video gaming culture, and how many school shootings have they had? Zero!

This sort of behaviour – and no offense to my American readers – is typical of small town USA, conservative minds who probably never learned how to analyze situations before coming to conclusions or jumping into rash actions. Ultimately, the NRA need a scapegoat for the masses, and the video games industry is the most obvious target. What better way to protect gun rights than to attack digital entertainment right? The link to this story is located in the address below, along with a couple of Youtube videos from commentators detailing just how ridiculous this backlash against video games is, and as a final note before I end this story; please THINK before you jump to conclusions when the old guard media – Print news, and Television – reveal a particularly sensationalized story.

http://ca.ign.com/articles/2013/01/03/connecticut-town-will-collect-destroy-violent-games

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DisFlR_LxYs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_799220&feature=iv&src_vid=DisFlR_LxYs&v=5uwAo8lcAC4

 

The Societe de transport de Montreal – the transit authority in Montreal – told the newspaper, Montreal Gazette, that it had no ability to require frontline transit workers to speak English alongside French. However in this story, the Gazette filed an access to information request, and discovered that the STM did not even seek legal advice with regards to Bill 101 and the exceptions within the bill when it comes to requiring another language other than French at the work place. The article goes on to reiterate some past stories of STM employees mistreating English-speaking customers, in one instance head locking, and punching the customer all while demanding that they return to their country as French is the only language spoken in Quebec. Now this issue over language started when Bill 101 – The Charter of the French Language – came into effect in Quebec. Many major businesses uprooted and moved to Toronto when the bill became law, as businesses over I believe 35 employees – correct me of I am wrong – had to operate in the official language: French. One interesting story related to this issue is the Bank of Montreal. Now the name itself suggests that the bank has its headquarters in Montreal; the truth is the headquarters is in Toronto. After Bill 101 became law, the bank moved to Toronto from Montreal due to the language laws imposed upon large companies, and at one point BMO even contemplated dropping the ‘Montreal” from its’ name. Now the charter does have exceptions to the law of: “an employee cannot be denied employment on the basis they did not speak another language other than French,” such as if the job requires the knowledge of another language. When it comes to the Montreal Metro, there is an exception to be made as customers in Montreal speak either English, or French, sometimes both. The employee must be bilingual as the duties of the job require it, and it is in the best interest of the STM to seek legal advice on the matter rather than hide in the shadows, fearing the OLF. Hopefully this issue will be resolved soon, but due to the nature of the linguistic battle, it will take a bit of time, and the turtles’ pace is what will cause the most frustration amongst the people. The link to this story is located in the address below:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/lawyers+about+English+requirement/7772338/story.html

 

The Commandant of the Montreal Police Service wants to have more of a significant presence on the streets. In an interview with The Examiner, Commandant Stephane Plourde wishes to have more officers walk the beat in order to teach them how to handle incidents without escalating violence. Foot patrollers will be a mix of uniformed and undercover officers who will be deployed with the purpose of deterring car thieves, as well as learning how to handle potentially dangerous situations. Social workers will also be attached to the patrol teams in order to aid the officer in working with the homeless, drug-addicted, or mentally ill in a more productive manner. Aside from that – says Plourde – the officers will be there to deter such behaviours as public drunkenness, urinating in public, screaming, fighting, and interfering with vehicular or pedestrian traffic. Now this is an excellent initiative set forth by the Montreal Police Service; what better way is there to gather data on the situation on the ground than to have ‘recon teams’ walking the beat and keeping an eye on things. Now this particular move might make some uneasy, as there is a fear of police officers becoming overzealous, or perhaps even pursuing an alternate agenda; to which I must ask: What sort of alternate agenda? A Police officers’ job, more often than not, is reactionary. What the Commandant wants to do is simply respond to the requests of Montrealers for an increased police presence on the streets to make them feel safe. Reactive policing ladies and gentlemen; they will not bother a citizen if he or she is not breaking and entering, attacking, or intoxicated in public. More often than not, a person can ask how is their day going, and will not fear being cuffed for speaking to an officer. I apologize to those unfamiliar with the paranoia surrounding an increased police presence; that would be the criminology-side of me lecturing on the need to be reasonable when analyzing a police departments’ plan of action. The link to this story is located in the address below:

http://www.westmountexaminer.com/News/Local/2013-01-03/article-3149714/Westmount-Police-officers-to-hit-the-sidewalks-this-year/1

Montreal has been noted in the “Spirit of Cities,” published by the Princeton University Press as one of a few distinctive cities in the world. Cities on the list besides Montreal include: “Paris, associated with romance; Hong Kong, with materialism; New York, with ambition; Jerusalem, with religion; and Oxford, with learning,” (Marian Scott, The Gazette). The article recalls some opinions the authors had with regards to Montreal and the other cities: that being cities are better forces to resist globalization, than national governments. It goes on to explain some of the anti-nationalist thoughts that the authors uphold, but in general the message of the article is clear: Montreal is labelled as a unique city, one with a unique identity. In the face of globalization, and the sudden emergence of homogeneous cultures, and cookie-cutter architecture; cities like Montreal, Paris, Hong Kong, and Oxford, are better equipped to resist this trend and emerge as unique dots on the world stage. Now this is a fairly interesting article, as it highlights some key aspects related to urban geography. What I mean by this is we live in an age where the majority of the human population lives in cities, and that was something I touched upon in a class back in early 2012. It was fascinating to explore this new reality, of which I have come to realise that cities are the new marks of glory for a nation. The article details just how a city, with its’ unique environment and architecture, could develop a distinct culture of its own, and in turn counter the ‘standardization’ – if I may be allowed of the phrase – that has been occurring to cities around the world in the past decade or so. What interests me the most, is that Montreal is unique, based on not only the historical architecture, but also the bilingual environment in which people go about their daily lives. Such an interesting aspect to touch on, in which we take for granted, and yet it is what makes Montreal unique and loved by its people. This article was somewhat of a mess to dissect – I will admit – but I believe I was able to extract the message that was communicated towards the audience. Montrealers, be proud of your city: for despite the frustrations with city hall and the occasional radical running about; Canadians from other provinces – especially BC – notice your unique kindness towards others, and your willingness to speak to others. Here in Vancouver, when you attempt to strike up a conversation, people are either too proud to speak to you, or they think you are about to ask them for money, in which they look at you with such a hostile facial expression. Moving towards the international level, the city is loved by those from other nations wishing to come and learn from your excellent universities and colleges. They arrive to learn, but they also learn to love: if that even makes any sense. I just hope that I am not late to the party; the link to the story is located in the address below:

http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/city+spirit/7767760/story.html

Well that about wraps it up for this edition of the mediocre gazette. Now I am going to take this time to discuss what is going to happen with the blog over the next few months. Due to the new schedule being fairly packed between the days of Monday to Wednesday, it will be quite difficult for me to publish a gazette on Wednesday that is polished as I have previously done. Therefore I think it is time to adjust the schedule slightly and make it so only on Saturday will the gazette editions be published. There just is not enough time in the evenings between Monday and Tuesday to be able to collect meaningful stories, write on them, edit the entire paper, and subsequently publish it on Wednesday. Now I realize that I usually publish in the evenings, but the past four months I have had time to edit them, and ensure that they are polished and ready for consumption. This time around however, my mornings are no longer free, and my evening hours are reduced due to the demands of school and work; thus I doubt it will be possible for me to make the Wednesday publication. The Saturday edition of the gazette will still roll out as per usual, and I hope that you – my audience – will understand my situation and why I am doing this. I just do not have the time required to make two gazettes per week. Nevertheless, I will make the Saturday edition as news filled and as meaningful as I possibly can, to compensate for the loss of the Wednesday editions.

Thank you all for reading today’s edition, happy New Year, and I will see you next time.