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Here’s an article written by Marke Andrews in the Friday edition of The Vancouver Sun that discusses the current state of the Canadian video game industry. It mentions a newly released report commissioned by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) and prepared by Arthur Hickings Low. The industry was surveyed from June to October, 2008, just before the layoffs happened at multiple studios in Vancouver. A colleague told me the other day that approximately 550 game developers were laid off from different local companies in the last six months.

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You Twitter kids get off of my lawn! Darned I-Pod huggin’ text monkeys!

What does Twitter have to do with video games you may ask? Well, I suspect that I might indirectly be responsible for this latest information technology mocha latte’ du jour that is all the rage across the blogosphere and the media. In 1993, I was in Japan working on the Super Nintendo fantasy role playing game Lufia & The Fortress of Doom (known in Japan as ‘Estpolis‘). The game program code allowed me to write English story text in four lines of 28 characters per line, for a total of 112 characters (you Twitter kids are so spoiled with your whopping 140 characters!). Is it a co-incidence that Twitter was developed by 20 somethings who would have been children when Lufia came out?

Yes! I confess! I deliberately planted the seeds of Twitter into impressionable young minds, knowing that one day my plans of world domination through mindless text messaging would succeed!

(Insert maniacal evil laughter into this conversation)

Alright, perhaps I’m stretching the truth a ‘little’ bit, but you can’t deny the popularity of Twitter these days. That’s why I thought I’d share with you a brilliant satire about this latest fad.

Honestly, what’s next? Monkeys texting each other? Wait a minute….

Doctor ArkanoidDoctor Arkanoid

NASA Computer Kids Image

NASA Computer Kids Image

Time to celebrate the first weekend of spring with another installment of ‘Power Up!’.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is developing a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) called Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond. The game is being developed by Virtual Heroes in North Carolina and uses the Unreal Tournament 3 software engine. Players will be able to create astronaut characters that take part in missions using real NASA space technologies.

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Time to ‘Power Up’ this week and catch up on some interesting video game news:

Do you have problems in chemistry remembering the periodic table of the elements? Take a look at this imaginative creation from a dedicated gamer.

Videogame Periodic Table from

Videogame Periodic Table from

Here’s an interesting article about how Guitar Hero and Rockband are having some positive effects on learning and music.

A pilot program at an elementary school in Washington DC is using Nintendo Wii Music to help promote interest in the subject. Nintendo plans to work with other schools across the United States.

If you’re thinking about adding more titles to your collection, here’s a very good article from EDGE magazine about the 100 best video games to play. EDGE is arguably one of the oldest and most comprehensive video game magazines still available.

Sony Canada voluntarily decided to remove a large advertisement for the Playstation 3 title Killzone 2 from a bus stop shelter in Toronto, Ontario,  after receiving a complaint from a teacher at a nearby elementary school. Sony is now reviewing how it will advertise future games near schools.

The Nintendo DS has now sold more than 100 million units since it was released in 2004. And people said playing with a touch screen would never work!

The Sony Playstation 2 continues to be a popular game console since it was released in 2000, with a total of 136 million units sold worldwide.

Doctor ArkanoidDoctor Arkanoid

Sofa Boy Image

Sofa Boy Image

In my last post, I mentioned how the video game industry does a terrible job of promoting public awareness and taking responsibility for its influence in today’s world.

Well, I’m happy to tell you that there’s one game designer who wrote a new children’s book about the perils of playing video games too much. His name is Scott Langteau and his book is called Sofa Boy, currently available online at Shake the Moon Books.

Sofa Boy is a tale written in the style of the Brothers Grimm and points out the dire consequences (in a humourous way) of what happens to little children whose parents let them play video games far too much. It reminds me of the classic German book Struwwelpeter published in 1845. When I was a little boy, my grandmother had an illustrated copy from 1917 in her home. I was captivated by the stories of what happened to children who sucked their thumbs or played with matches.

Here’s two links about Sofa Boy:

Heed the Lessons of Sofa Boy

Sofa Boy Uprooting Console Potatoes

Doctor ArkanoidDoctor Arkanoid

Fifth Estate Top GunLast weekend, the popular CBC television program The Fifth Estate, aired an episode called ‘Top Gun’, which dealt with the death of Brandon Crisp; a 15 year old boy who ran away from home after getting into an argument with his parents about the amount of time and effort he spent playing the XBox360 title Call of Duty 4. Brandon fell out of a tree and crushed his chest upon impact.

The program interviewed the parents, a behavioural counsellor, Brandon’s friends, professional video game players from Major League Gaming, and a spokeswoman for the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) in Canada. I reviewed the episode three times and decided to write a letter to CBC television.

Here is what I wrote:

The Fifth Estate is well known for shining a spotlight on important issues that Canadians need to know about. However, I feel the level of investigation and research for this episode was shallow, resulting in a program that made Brandon’s family appear to be victims of the video game industry. Important questions were not asked of both parties, and you didn’t provide constructive information for viewers so they could educate themselves.

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Greetings and felicitations!

I apologize profusely for not posting anything in the last two months, but like so many other folks, I’ve been wrestling with trying to find some kind, any kind, of paid employment so I can afford groceries, rent, and fund my thesis work at SFU. After a flying start to this blog, I let things slide, which a very wise Internet sage warned me about over lunch in January. Many blogs start out with grand intentions, but die a quick death because you lose interest, get pre-occupied with other things, or let the procrastination hobgoblins get the better of you.

The good Doctor pledges to get back to work and keep you informed with more useful information about the video game world. Much has happened in the past while – there’s so much news out there that needs to be discussed. Thank you to everyone who posted and sent e-mail about this blog.

I have two pieces of news to announce. My first academic paper about video games and education will be published this fall in a new textbook entitled Educational Game Play and Environments: Case Studies and Lessons Learned, by IGI Global Publishing. Getting published is a big feather in the cap for a graduate student. The title of my paper is Video Games and the Challenge of Engaging the ‘Net’ Generation. It discusses the prevalence of video games in the lives of students public education and what this situation means for classroom instruction.

My second bit of news also involves an article I recently wrote about the need for post secondary faculty to make more use of Internet applications when interacting with their students. The article is called Faculty Need to Walk the Talk and it will hopefully appear in the May 2009 issue of University Affairs Magazine.

Doctor ArkanoidDoctor Arkanoid

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Anthony Gurr and Doctor Arkanoid - Revelations From the Inner Sanctum!, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Anthony Gurr and Doctor Arkanoid - Revelations From the Inner Sanctum! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.