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Well, better late than never!

When I was attending the Media Jeunes Conference 2010 last November as a guest panelist, I was asked by Dr. Lise Renaud from the Comsante’ Research Centre at the University of Quebec if I would sit down for an interview about videogames. Modest fellow that I am, they had to twist my arm! I recently received the URL for this interview.

Comsante’ hosts a blog at Cestmalade .

I hope you enjoy the interview!

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Bonjour mes amis! Le Docteur est retournee’!

Yes! The Doctor is IN! Honestly! To quote Austin Powers “I’M BACK BABY, YEAH!”. Where have I been? Well, the truth is I took a bit of a hiatus from the blog so I could finish my Master’s thesis and complete my graduate degree. I’m happy to report that after two gruelling years of blood, sweat, and literature reviews,  the thesis is complete at last! I will do a write up for you about the nature of the research later. Today’s post is about the Doctor’s visit last week to the Media – Jeunes 2010 conference that was held at the CBC Radio Canada ‘Mothership’ in Montreal, Quebec on November 18th and 19th.

In early September, my graduate supervisor, Dr. David Kaufman and I were having our usual thesis review coffee klatch. David mentioned to me that the Alliance for Children’s Television (ACT) was holding their annual conference for 2010 in Montreal and were looking for someone who could contribute to a panel discussion about the positive messages provided by digital media, including video games. He felt that I might be a good candidate given my background and experience, so I contacted the conference co-ordinator and made a submission. After several e-mails and phone discussions with Sylvie Lamy from ACT, I was accepted as a panel member. I was very excited because I believe that the positive side of video games does not get enough discussion compared to the frequent media coverage of the ‘AAA’ 3D hyper realistic commercial franchises like Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, Gears of War, Grand Theft Auto, Halo, {insert your favourite ‘M’ rated 3D action/fighting/shooting game here}. I also thought that participating on the panel would give me an opportunity to understand the current state of children’s digital media in Canada. There was one other benefit – ACT would take care of my expenses. This was music to a starving graduate student’s ears!

Preparing for the conference was challenging because I wanted to be relevant to the audience of media and television people in attendance. Another challenge was trying to fit my presentation into a window of 12 minutes! The great thing about discussing video games is that there’s never a lack of useful material. The trick is to find content that is meaningful and relevant. I found a really nice trailer from PBS on Youtube for Video Games Live. I selected a clip from the first two and half minutes.

The members of the panel were an interesting mix. We had an opportunity to have a very scintillating conference call the week before. As the sole member from the Pacific coast, I had to get up on a Friday morning at 7:00 a.m.! But our discussion paved the way for a fascinating session in Montreal. Amy Friedman from Redhead Consulting discussed working with licenses in digital media through her involvement with Nickelodeon. She showed some interesting public service announcements about cyberbullying. Dr. Carla Seal-Wanner from Flickerlab presented interactive film making students did using her company’s software for the Global Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009. Dr. Judith Gaudet discussed media and health education using the series Ramdam. The moderator was Mathieu Baer, the producer of Zooville for CBC Radio Canada. All of them were very knowledgable digital media professionals. I felt a bit humbled to be sitting alongside these individuals. I also had the challenge of being the last member to speak on the panel. The mission became very straightforward – keep the audience entertained at the end. After all, video games are about fun and excitement, n’est-ce pas?

Tomorrow I’ll give a recap of the interesting issues I learned about at the Media Jeunes 2010 Conference.

Doctor Arkanoid

I LIVE!

Yes, the good doctor, contrary to rumours and the tabloid vultures at TMZ, is still very much alive and kicking! It has been too long since I last posted on the blog, and for that I apologize profusely. I have been greatly pre-occupied with trying to earn a living and complete my M.A. thesis at the same time. The good news is that I have almost completed the research phase of my work; the thesis has taken well over a year of effort so far. Thankfully, I should be completed by the end of April.

A few bits of interesting news. My first academic paper is now officially published! Today I received my copy of Educational Gameplay and Simulation Environments: Case Studies and Lessons Learned, published by IGI Global. My contribution to the textbook is a chapter called Video Games and the Challenge of Engaging the ‘Net’ Generation. It was a great challenge to sit down and write a complete chapter! Having one’s writing reviewed by a panel of editors was also a unique experience.

Last week the good Doctor was invited by CBC Radio to discuss a plan by DigiBC and the Washington Interactive Network (WIN) to collaborate on working together for the benefit of the video game industries in the Pacific Northwest. The industry has a history of being predatory and territorial. The current economic conditions and the increasingly competitive nature of the global game industry are likely catalysts for this situation.

CBC Radio DigiBC WIN Interview

There’s plenty of events and issues to catch up on. If only I had more minions to do my blog bidding!

Doctor Arkanoid

Anthony Gurr VancouverOn Saturday, May 23rd, the Vancouver Sun newspaper published an opinion piece written by Andrew Cohen called “Should We Adopt the Danish Way of Life?”. He wrote about how their society provides free tuition for students who decide to study  at university. Graduate students are also given a  salary if they study for a Master’s or a Doctoral degree. I almost dropped my coffee mug when I read those facts! What an enlightened approach to provide a university education to everyone that wants one! I have always believed that people who want to attend college or university to further themselves should not have to carry massive loads of debt in the process.  As a graduate student, you commit yourself to several years of specialized coursework and training about how to conduct research and engage in academic writing. The research thesis is the final test. It’s a demanding, rigourous assignment that isn’t for the faint hearted. Paying graduate students a salary is not only generous, it shows an appreciation and understanding of the commitment they’re making to their course of studies. Educated people are a society’s most valuable resource.

I was moved to write a letter to the editor about Cohen’s op-ed piece. Imagine my surprise to see it published in today’s edition of the Sun. You can read my letter here:

Canada Could do More for its Graduate Students

I think this passage from Chaucer’s literary masterpiece The Canterbury Tales sums up my thoughts about being a graduate student:

Yet, and for all he was philosopher,
He had but little gold within his coffer;
But all that he might borrow from a friend
On books and learning he would swiftly spend,
And then he’d pray right busily for the souls
Of those who gave him wherewithal for schools.
Of study took he utmost care and heed.
Not one word spoke he more than was his need;
And that was said in fullest reverence
And short and quick and full of high good sense.


Doctor ArkanoidDoctor Arkanoid


Disclaimer – one or two of the following videos contains language and suggestive scenes that may or may not cause your hair to fall out, your  eyes to pop out of their sockets, or generally offend your sensibilities 🙂

Doctor Arkanoid is back in the lab and he’s ready to party!

Pac ManI just completed a BIG step yesterday in the continuing quest to finish my M.A. thesis in Educational Technology at SFU by submitting a final draft of the research proposal to my graduate supervisor who is currently in China either jet skiing on the Yangtze River, or bungee jumping off the Three Gorges Dam. You never can tell with these tenured professors! It’s fair to say that I’ve spent months researching and writing this proposal, so I feel like celebrating.

(Takes out a 1981 Buckner & Garcia album and inserts it into the jukebox)

So come on everyone! I’ve got Pac Man Fever and it’s driving me crazy!

Hey! This party is just getting started! It’s time to Do The Donkey Kong!

Yo Yo Yo! Wassssuuuuppppp? Video Game Song in dah Howz! Break it down!

Alright then! Time for some theatre sports! Here’s a wickedly funny parody about the Nintendo Wii from the Los Angeles based improvisational group Fries on the Side.

Doctor ArkanoidDoctor Arkanoid

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

Doctor ArkanoidWelcome to the Inner Sanctum! I’m glad you decided to drop in.

I’m sure you’re wondering who is Doctor Arkanoid and what this blog is about. Allow me to enlighten you 🙂

First of all, Doctor Arkanoid is me! My name is Anthony Gurr and I’ve been involved with the video game industry for 25 years. I’m also a professional technology writer, and I’ve taught at the post-secondary level. I received my Master’s degree in Technology and Learning Design in June, 2011, from Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver, Canada. I started my career in video games in 1988 by working as a game tester for a Japanese company in Vancouver called Taito Software. Perhaps you’ve heard of Taito; they made a modestly successful arcade game named ‘Space Invaders‘! I was known inside Taito Software as ‘Doctor Arkanoid’ – the resident game guru and writer of a marketing newsletter we sent out that featured game hints and information.

Some of the titles I worked on at Taito Software include Arkanoid, Bubble Bobble, Chase HQ, Operation Wolf,Rastan, Renegade, and Wrath of the Black Manta. I also worked for Taito Corporation in Tokyo, Japan, from 1991 to 1994, where I helped develop Arkanoid: Doh it Again, Lufia & The Fortess of Doom, Operation Thunderbolt, Super Chase HQ, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and The Ninja Warriors.

The Inner Sanctum is all about helping people make sense of the wild virtual frontier that is the video game world. By ‘video games’, I’m talking about the whole spectrum of personal computer games, handheld video games, mobile games, and video game consoles. The purpose of this blog is to help explain the nature of video games and the industry to the mainstream world and encourage an open dialogue.

This blog isn’t about cheat codes, gamer gossip, or the latest marketing hype. There are plenty of other folks in the blogosphere doing an excellent job of that! The Inner Sanctum is about helping make sense of video games and their influence in today’s world. If you’re an academic, a parent, a teacher, a media reporter, a student, or someone looking for thoughtful advice and information, I hope you’ll find this blog to be useful.

The TyeeDoctor 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.