Monday, November 21, 2011

Gamercamp Lv3 Starts this Friday!!!!

The big "do not miss" event in town this weekend is Gamercamp Lv3, which runs from Nov. 25-27, features a plethora of awesome games, events and speakers, and showcases the pure awesomeness that is the Toronto indie game scene. Co-founded by Mark Rabo and Jaime Woo, Gamercamp is now in its third year and appears to be hitting one heck of a stride. Here's the description from the official website:
Gamercamp celebrates the artistry, innovation, and power of play. Attendees experience three days of inspiring talks, panels, presentations, gameplay sessions, demos, films, game jamming, and arcades showcasing the depth and talent of the North American games community.
The festival kicks off on Friday, with a keynote by FoldIt lead designer Seth Cooper, a series of MakerU events, and an evening "casual gala" hosted by Electric Playground's Shaun Hatton. Saturday is an eclectic mix of talks, including a morning in-conversation panel that I will have the honour of participating in along with the wonderful Emilie McGinley (Bigpants and TOJam co-founder) and the fantastic Mare Sheppard (Metanet co-founder). Saturday's schedule also includes demos, pwnage breaks, rapid fire talks and fascinating-sounding presentations, a grilled cheese factory, film screenings, game tournaments and a live-action Mario Party style game called "Urban Road Trip". Sunday morning is all about cartoons, gaming and eating sugar (in cereal form), more presentations, game tournaments and film screenings. I think I'm missing a couple of pub outings in and amongst there, but you get the general idea. Mayhem, inspiring talks and designs, and plenty of opportunities to play and meet the people making some of the most interesting and creative games out there right now.

Included on Gamercamp's extremely impressive and exciting roster of speakers are number of my most genius pals and colleagues, including Jason Nolan (Ryerson/EDGE Lab), Emma Westecott (OCADU), David Fono (Atmosphere Industries), Melanie McBride (York-Ryerson/EDGE Lab), Kate Raynes-Goldie (Atmosphere Industries), Nick Pagee (TIFF Nexus), and fellow iSchooler Andy Keenan.

Tickets are still available for most of the events (I think! Some things may have already (or are about to) sold out, but as of Monday afternoon there are still festival and day passes left). The festival is spread across downtown Toronto (starting in the Annex and ending up at George Brown College), is very grassroots and social, and promises to be eight and a half tons of fun. Hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stop the Stop Online Piracy Act

Some really important and troubling things happening right now on the digital culture/content/access front. Via digital law expert Michael Geist:
The U.S. Congress is currently embroiled in a heated debated over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), proposed legislation that supporters argue is needed combat online infringement, but critics fear would create the "great firewall of the United States." SOPA’s potential impact on the Internet and development of online services is enormous as it cuts across the lifeblood of the Internet and e-commerce in the effort to target websites that are characterized as being "dedicated to the theft of U.S. property." This represents a new standard that many experts believe could capture hundreds of legitimate websites and services.

For those caught by the definition, the law envisions requiring Internet providers to block access to the sites, search engines to remove links from search results, payment intermediaries such as credit card companies and Paypal to cut off financial support, and Internet advertising companies to cease placing advertisements.
While those of us outside of the US tend to think of ourselves as not (or less) effected by American legislation, Geist warns us to think again. The jurisdictional implications of SOPA are wide-reaching and imperialistic. As Geist explains:
While these measures have unsurprisingly raised concern among Internet companies and civil society groups (letters of concern from Internet companies, members of the US Congress,international civil liberties groups, and law professors), my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) argues the jurisdictional implications demand far more attention. The U.S. approach is breathtakingly broad, effectively treating millions of websites and IP addresses as "domestic" for U.S. law purposes.
There's a hearing today, apparently, but requests for action are still circulating, so there is perhaps still time (albeit fleeting) to take action on this. The fabulous Avaaz has organized a "Save the Internet" campaign that includes an online petition. If you're an educator, you might want to add your name and support to the Concerned Educators Letter to Congress. For more information, you might want to check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation's growing reservoir of info and resources, which includes an easy online form for sending your objection to SOPA to your member of congress (US only).