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  ‘Waking City’ Registration Now Open  
Posted 2006-08-18 by Tony Walsh
Toronto will be abuzz with alternate reality intrigue, puzzle-hunting challenge, and live-action antics as Waking City unfolds next month. Registration for the cross-genre game is now open, and teams of 4-7 players are invited to sign up at the rate of $27.80 CAD per player (the fees cover operating costs). Waking City developer TorGame is a non-profit, volunteer-driven collective steered by a core team and supported by a coven of specialists, including minor contributions from yours truly. TorGame's intrepid leader David Fono was recently interviewed by BlogTO, revealing some background on the game and summarizing what players can expect. Another interview should be hitting the newsstands via The Globe and Mail on Saturday if all goes according to plan.

Waking City is the kind of game I'd play if I wasn't part of the support team, so I hope lots of folks sign up. This is a grassroots game but it's up to professional standards, with bucketloads of planning and effort put in by TorGame. A successful experience this year means the game might become an annual event, which would be a great addition to Toronto's cultural mix.
  Toronto Independent Games Conference  
Posted 2006-08-15 by Tony Walsh
Toronto, Canada will be hosting an Independent Games Conference between August 31 and September 2 this year. The grassroots event will showcase indie games and explore avenues for indie game development. Registration costs as little as $50 for post-secondary students, and will be held at the at the Casa Loma campus of George Brown College. The College is a co-sponsor, and since I'm coordinating its Game Design Program and teaching a course on Game Culture and Design, I managed to squeeze in as a speaker. Or maybe it was on my own merits. Anything's possible.

I'll be lecturing on "Productive Play," a topic I've written about here at Clickable Culture, and read about elsewhere online. Lecture material will cite a number of short articles from around the web, papers and books. I'll be revisiting my whimsical case-study "Airport Screening is a Badly Designed Game" for the presentation, which will hopefully include illustrations. The entire text of the lecture will be made available on this blog in the first week of September.
  ‘Waking City’:  A Toronto Game  
Posted 2006-07-10 by Tony Walsh
Waking City is a grassroots live-action game taking place this fall in downtown Toronto, Canada. I originally reported on the project early this year, and have since joined "TorGame," the capable team of volunteers creating and managing Waking City. I'm contributing a puzzle or two to the effort, which combines the story-driven mystery of alternate reality games, the frenetic intensity of puzzle hunts, and the passion for the public spaces of urban gaming.

According to the relaunched official site, "For two weeks in September, teams of 5-10 players will pound the pavement, solving fiendish puzzles, uncovering Toronto's secret history, and interacting with the agents of a vast and ancient conspiracy. They'll feel the tug of mystery, the fun of exploration, and thrill of being part of a dynamically unfolding plot." The game takes place between September 16 and 29, 2006. There's currently a public dev-blog available that will give a spoiler-free look at some of the inner workings of the TorGame team. I'm pleased to have the opportunity to work with well-rounded and talented group--it's a first-time effort for the team, although many of the individual members have prior experience relating to live-action gaming.
  ‘Darkon’: The Movie  
Posted 2006-04-29 by Tony Walsh
Last night I attended the Canadian premiere of Darkon, a documentary that explores the live-action role playing game of the same name. The film bridged the game world of Darkon and the real lives of the game's players, shifting back and forth between fiction and reality. I was particularly struck by the respect the filmmakers had for their subjects, and by the willingness of the participants to expose their hobby to a mainstream audience.

Covering Darkon from a positive angle (apparently no negative commentators could be found), the filmmakers spotlighted the productive aspects of live-action gaming, such as the development of social skills and improvement of self-image. As a former live-action gamer (LARPer) myself, I've seen certain players blossom from meek to self-assured by being able to push their personal limits in a supportive environment. There's a reason psychologists and social workers use role-playing techniques in therapy--it really works.

Continue reading: ‘Darkon’: The Movie
  ‘ReGenesis’ ARG Nominated for Banff TV Award  
Posted 2006-04-04 by Tony Walsh
The folks at Toronto's Xenophile Media inform me that the second season of their alternate reality game based on the Canadian TV show ReGenesis has been nominated for the Banff Television Award for Interactive Television. Congrats, Xenokids! I was contracted as the main Game Designer and as a Writer for the game, which is currently underway.

The Interactive TV category is new to the the international Banff Television Festival, and pits the following nominees (strangely, mostly Toronto-based) against each other in a frenzied slap-fight...

Continue reading: ‘ReGenesis’ ARG Nominated for Banff TV Award
  Toronto Goes to the ‘Artcade’  
Posted 2006-03-27 by Tony Walsh
Torontonians will soon wallow in a festering pit of video game nostalgia as "Artcade" opens Wednesday, April 5, 2006. The art show, located inside a Microplay game specialty store on Toronto's trendy Queen West strip, features 11 arcade-inspired artists including Chris Hutsul, Kagan McLeod, and Matt Daley. Not being one of the cool kids (few of whom are actually old enough to have played a vintage arcade game), I wasn't invited to contribute to or attend the show, but I will bitterly crash the opening party with gusto.

April 5 - May 17, 2006
@ Microplay, 632 Queen St. West,
Toronto, Canada
  Live-Action ‘Toronto Game’ Coming This Summer  
Posted 2006-03-26 by Tony Walsh
A plot-based live-action game involving the landscape and geography of Toronto is planned to take place this August. The anonymous makers of The Toronto Game hope it will be fun, challenging, intense, and accessible to players of varying skill levels: "The primary distinguishing factors of this game are the emphasis on exploring public spaces, and our goal of accommodating casual players."

The cross-media game will involve live events, location-based puzzles, and online content, and is currently in the planning stages. The Toronto Game's makers are looking for volunteers to fill a number of positions, including Story Designer, Puzzle Designer, Publicist, Writer and Artist. This seems to be a good opportunity for anyone interested in developing or practicing skills related to Alternate Reality Games.
  Look For Me on CBC TV Tonight  
Posted 2006-03-08 by Tony Walsh
What could the arrival of widespread WiFi service in Toronto mean for gamers and the game industry? Reporter Michelle Cheung posed this question and more to myself and separately to Evan Jones of Xenophile Media today. The story is slated to air on CBC News at 6pm tonight--I assume for Toronto rather than nationally. My interview lasted about 20 minutes, but I'm hoping they just keep the best 20 seconds. It's pretty easy to say silly things in a 20-minute interview, and a couple of times I was definitely guilty of verbal diarrhea.

I'll do a follow-up post about the segment after it airs.
  Toronto To Be Swathed in WiFi  
Posted 2006-03-07 by Tony Walsh
As I reported this past Sunday, Toronto Hydro Telecom is bringing city-wide WiFi coverage to downtown Toronto. According to official details revealed today, access points will be fixed to streetlight poles from Jarvis to Spadina and from Front to Bloor, encompassing Toronto's business center. The first phase of the project, which spans Front to Queen and Spadina to Church, will roll out at the end of June, 2006. The entire infrastructure will be set up by the end of 2006.

The move will make Toronto (which is Canada's largest city) into Canada's largest WiFi zone. This is good news particularly for any Torontonian using a portable net-connected device, such as a laptop or Nintendo DS. For the first 6 months, customers will enjoy complimentary service, after which time a range of packages at "competitive rates" will be offered. No word yet on package or pricing details
  Toronto Utility To Enter WiFi Market  
Posted 2006-03-05 by Tony Walsh
Canada's largest municipal electrical utility is getting into the WiFi market. Although official details haven't yet been announced, Toronto Hydro's telecom arm has announced it will compete directly with "established carriers," which logically means Bell and Rogers--both of which are nationwide telco giants. Toronto Hydro Telecom, established in 2000 as a subsidiary of Toronto Hydro Corporation, already owns a 450 kilometer-long fibre-optic network in the Toronto area, providing a pipeline for services such as internet access and VoIP. Adding WiFi seems like a logical step, and means more competition in the Greater Toronto Area's wireless arena. A good thing for local consumers, but I imagine some major waves will be generated in the telco space over this as corporations fight over their portion of the city's communications grid.
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