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  ‘Major League Gaming’ Gains Solid Foothold in Canada  
Posted 2007-06-19 by Tony Walsh
Insight Sports, a Toronto-based media company, is bringing Major League Gaming to Canada, providing a localized, organized pathway to "professional" video gaming. To this end, Major League Gaming Canada will be staging an Xbox-exclusive tournament this fall: "The MLG Canadian Open will be held Friday, November 2nd – Sunday, November 4th, 2007 at Toronto’s Direct Energy Centre. It will serve as a marquee event within the larger Gaming and Digital Lifestyle show that is expected to attract over 25,000 core gamers and technology enthusiasts during the weekend."

I spoke briefly today with MLG co-founder Sundance DiGiovanni, who told me that MLG chose consoles over the PC platform because of the lower barrier to entry for console gamers--the cost of buying a PC rig is just too high, he said. While MLG is Xbox-exclusive for now, DiGiovanni told me the Nintendo Wii is a possibility moving forward.

Support from Xbox Canada, Yahoo! Canada, Zellers, The Score and G4techTV has already been secured for MLG's Canadian debut. Xbox Canada has ensured the Xbox will be used exclusively during league play; Yahoo! Canada will promote MLG through its media network; Zellers will facilitate retail sales and promotions; The Score TV network will be the official home of MLG, including the U.S., with G4techTV apparently picking up the broadcast scraps.

Not sure what to make of this until I actually see a televised MLG tournament. On the one hand, it's good to see video games get a "pro sports" treatment. On other other hand, is MLG meeting a need? Are North Americans ready for video games as pro sports?
  Integrated Media Festival Panel to Discuss ‘Digital Intimacy’  
Posted 2007-05-01 by Tony Walsh
I'll be a panelist on the topic of "digital intimacy" in Toronto next week as part of the 2007 Integrated Media Festival, a 1-day event produced by The Centre for Creative Communications. The panel, which discusses inhibition, relationships, and sexuality in the digital realm, also involves Amber MacArthur of CityNews/CP24 and Cynthia Loyst of Sextv. I'll be presenting for about 10 minutes on some of the ways intimacy is expressed in virtual worlds, and how pliable boundaries between public and private space in worlds such as Second Life and World of Warcraft touch the human beings behind the avatars.

The 90-minute panel begins at 1:30pm on May 7, 2007, at Revival Bar, 783 College Street West, Toronto. The event is free, and open to the public. A schedule of the entire day can be found here.
  Play ‘Cruel 2 B Kind’ In Your City  
Posted 2007-04-13 by Tony Walsh
Local ARGitecht Lindsay Mills sends word of a Toronto-based session of live-action game Cruel 2 B Kind to be held May 4, 2007. The "benevolent assassination" game was co-created by veteran designers Jane McGonigal and Ian Bogost, and involves launching random acts of kindness against others. Hopefully other players, but since no information is given about one's assassination targets, it's a bit hit and miss, resulting in a spectacle worth signing up for even as an innocent bystander.

Lindsday says that on May 4, "sign-in starts at 7pm, game is from 7:30-8:30pm. It's free to play, all that's required is one cell phone for each team with txt/SMS capabilities because it's how teams send in their kills for points." The Toronto edition of Cruel 2 B Kind is intended to help promote the upcoming ARG-like TorGame event, planned for launch later this year. Other Cruel 2 B Kind locales this spring include Santa Monica, Seattle, and Gothenburg.
  TorGame 2007 In the Works  
Posted 2007-04-05 by Tony Walsh
TorGame, a grassroots group of Toronto-based creatives, is gearing up for a second year of ARG-like play on the city's streets. I was involved a little bit in the early and late stages of the group's Waking City game, which launched late in 2006 with around 100 players grouped into 20 teams. A handful of the participants blogged and photographed the proceedings. For many players, this was a first encounter with ARG-like play--a mashup of live-action role play, puzzle-hunts, and urban exploration. I have a feeling TorGame's second year will be even better than the first.

TorGame is holding a meeting on April 12, 2007 at the Lillian H. Smith Library for those interested in getting involved.
  The ‘Static’ Experience:  Location-Based Audio Drama  
Posted 2007-03-26 by Tony Walsh
Theater-savvy Torontonians will be treated to the launch of Static this week, basking in a "multi-media, interdisciplinary experience" that brings a combination of audio drama, theatrical vignettes, dance performance and interactive installations to York Quay Centre. Via MP3 players, Static's audience tunes into the thoughts of a central character for a tour around the venue, absorbing the event's sights and sounds.

I hope to be able to attend a performance, as I suspect Static may synergize well with alternate reality gaming, pervasive electronic gaming, and live-action gaming. Even knowing as little as I do about what Static has in store of me, I can imagine how an experience like this could easily be made more game-like. Not that I think theater is necessarily improved by game-play, just that I can't help but look at a cross-media experience like Static and think of gaming.

Continue reading: The ‘Static’ Experience:  Location-Based Audio Drama
  ‘Vanishing Point’ ARG: Toronto Live Event Recap  
Posted 2007-01-20 by Tony Walsh
I just got back from a live event connected with Vanishing Point, an alternate-reality-game-like promotion for Microsoft's doomed OS Vista. Since the event took place only a short walk from my lair in Toronto, I decided to check it out, despite the -16C weather (that's "goddamned cold" to you Americans).

A rental cop, two hydraulic lifts cloaked in black tarp, and a small group of bystanders joined me in waiting for the event, slated for 7pm local time. I'm guessing about 8 ARG-players showed up, and maybe about 3 photographers from local papers. The rest seemed to be in on the whole thing.

When the time was right, video projectors on the lifts splashed the Hockey Hall of Fame with the following image...

Continue reading: ‘Vanishing Point’ ARG: Toronto Live Event Recap
  See Me Live on CP24 ‘Homepage’ Tonight  
Posted 2007-01-17 by Tony Walsh
See Me Live on CP24 ‘Homepage’ Tonight
Tony Walsh looks like he ate a fresh lemon.
Yesterday I appeared briefly as a commentator on the CityNews segment World Wide Web to chat about the virtual world Second Life and the use of that environment to screen the independent feature film Four Eyed Monsters. Earlier this month, I wrote about the film's Second Life debut in a blog post entitled "Down in Front."

Tonight, I'll be making a live appearance on the CP24 show HomePage to follow up on yesterday's segment, barring any last-minute complications. I'm not sure at what exact time during the hour-long show I'll be hijacking the airwaves, but it runs between 5pm-6pm Eastern, and is repeated at 11:35pm tonight, and again at 1:05am tomorrow. Channel 24, I believe.
  Catch Me On CityTV Tonight [Updated]  
Posted 2007-01-16 by Tony Walsh
I'll be making a brief appearance on Toronto-based CityNews International tonight, chatting with tech reporter Amber MacArthur about Second Life. The piece should air tonight between 8:00-8:30 (Eastern) and again between 10:30-11:00 during a segment called "World Wide Web." For those who can't watch the live broadcast, the segment will also apparently be archived online by 9pm tonight and a longer (lightly-edited) interview will be posted on one of their videoblogs (this one, I think).

My last TV appearance earlier this month also involved Second Life. Must be something in the air.
  ‘Second Life’ Explored on TVO Tonight  
Posted 2007-01-04 by Tony Walsh
TVO, a public TV broadcaster based in Ontario, Canada, takes a look at Second Life tonight. I'll be joining host Steve Paikin, host of The Agenda, along with to-be-determined other guests to discuss the business, technology and social aspects of the virtual world. The show airs at 8pm Eastern Time. Producer Mike Miner posted a preamble to the show on his blog. Although his description of Second Life could just as easily be applied to a text-based chatroom, I assure you he's aware of the key differences between the 3D virtual world and instant messaging. Miner asked me to prepare an avatar for the host of the show, and I'm pretty sure we'll be getting some in-world footage.

If you aren't able to tune in locally, a video of the show is posted within a few days of airtime. I'll link it when it becomes available.
  Toronto TV Station Needs Female ‘Second Life’ Residents  
Posted 2007-01-03 by Tony Walsh
Just a quick note that a Toronto TV broadcaster is looking for presentable, articulate female Second Life residents to appear in-studio on a segment tomorrow (Thursday, January 4, 2007). The segment will discuss the ins and outs of Second Life and its relationship to the real world. I'll be a guest, as will someone from Linden Lab (most likely). We need a woman to round out the potentially male-heavy lineup. Please let me know if you're interested and available Thursday evening (I believe around 7-9pm): tony at secretlair dot com. Thanks!
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