Thursday, August 16, 2012

Project Play is gaming for the fans, by the fans

Vikas Sharma

In London, we're definitely fortunate to have a strong core of video game studios and ambitious independent developers creating games that are played around the world, and to host DIG, which brings the Canada’s best to the city, and showcases what our the companies in our region are creating.

But what about the fans?

After all, it is the fans that purchase the games, download the DLC, build communities and clans, debate minutia, and propel games to the top of the charts. While services like Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network, Steam and the internet as a whole have allowed gamers to virtually connect like never before, that often comes at the expense of creating a real, live community. 

A little more than a year and a half ago, I sat with Mathew Hoy of the Games Day Podcast as we talked about just that issue and asked the question "How could we bring London's video game fans and gaming industry together on a social level?"

We found success early on with our Hello My Game Is events (which will be returning in the future!), but there was still the one big question to be answered: could we bring together all the different gaming communities in our area, digital and otherwise, for one-day hands-on gaming event?

Project Play on Sunday, September 16 at the Fanshawe Student Centre is our answer, and the answer is an emphatic yes.

Project Play will feature video game developers from Southwestern Ontario showcasing their console, online and mobile games, along with tabletop, RPG and card gaming, tournaments run by local stores, the Gaming Gallery digital art show, a cosplay competition, anime screenings, gaming competitions, a tractor trailer filled with Sony's biggest titles and other great attractions. 

While we originally focused Project Play primarily on video games, we really underestimated the enthusiasm amongst other gaming groups to be part of an event like this, and the response has been fantastic. Where once we expected to have mostly video games, now we'll have miniature battles to check out, card games to learn, amazing hand-made costumes to see, and new people to meet who share your passions.

But, within this fun day, there was also a tremendous opportunity to do something more. Something arguably much more important.

As gamers, we enjoy the fantastic worlds that games allow us to explore, the adventures and escapism they provide. In that spirit, we saw Project Play as a chance to create a lasting legacy by providing gaming opportunities to children who don’t have the same gaming options we have. We will play today, so that they can play tomorrow.

All proceeds from Project Play will be used to provide gaming bundles to organizations that support children and families, especially those experiencing difficult and traumatic times. With the money raised from the event, and donations leveraged from our industry partners, we will donate bundles of video game consoles, games and other family-oriented entertainment to organizations doing great work in our community.

First on our list are Merrymount Children's Centre and the Women's Rural Resource Centre of Strathroy and Area, but the more tickets we sell and the more money we raise, the more organizations we can support. So don’t just think of your $10 as the price of admission, think of it as a $10 contribution towards lifting the spirits of children.

To learn more about Project Play, you see the constantly growing line-up of exhibitors, and to purchase tickets and support the day's charitable efforts, visit

Greg Picken is the co-founder of, a family-oriented review site, and the lead organizer of Project Play.
Pin It

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Life and Times of London Developer Ian Bullock

Ian Bullock - Photo from

London, Canada is successfully attracting, training and retaining talented digital interactive professionals who often have one thing in common: they have attended the DIG conference.

I had the opportunity to chat with one local web developer who relocated to London for school, found a rewarding career in his field and is thriving in the city.

Ian Bullock, web developer extraordinaire at Digital Echidna and I talked about about life, internet and... well... DIG of course.  Ian’s life is an open book; he is active on twitter (@ian_bullock) and generally posts most of his secrets on the feed. A lesser known interesting fact about Ian is that he was a goal tender in hockey for 13 years, playing  in small across Ontario towns such as St. George and Paris. Maybe this info is on Twitter somewhere, but it’s published here now for your trivia pleasure.

Ian was born in London, moved away, then came back and stayed (#YAY). He studied at Western and Fanshawe:  Multi media Design and Production at F-shawe coupled with a degree in MIT at Western. I feel like I can use the abbrev. “F-Shawe”... being a very proud Alumni of the college and all. Ian has worked at 3 agencies in London in both front and back end development, which grants both the inner artist and programmer the opportunity to shine. Bravo internet soldier

Ian knew from an early age that his career would focus around graphic design, with interests in photography and painting Ian gets to express himself in his chosen career. Having a strong parental influence in computer science and visual arts, web development proved to be the perfect fit. My homeboy Ian and I bonded over our love of the craft and if you ask us, Code is Art.

Ian’s first web project was a re-design of the Club Phoenix site in college a mere 5-6 years ago. Now he is working on large projects with Echidna for organizations like WOTCH and has witnessed his skill set evolve from the table-design and image-based text in HTML used 5 years ago to the CMS’s of today. The web development world is rapidly evolving and changing, you have to remain ahead of the curve as new technologies challenge the skill set of a developer daily. Ian will not have to fret this November 2012; we have him covered at DIG.

From networking with fellow web developers and friends I have learned that we all have a certain way of computing. With 8 browser tabs open, grooveshark playing Ska and Dubstep and art supplies handy Ian is ready to work, or be stranded on a dessert island in peace. Although Ian was not sure how he felt about Dubstep, I reassured him that “haters are going to hate and that it is fine to Lub the Dub

Thanks to Ian Bullock for meeting with me! I leave you with this clip from our interview where I ask, “What is the best part about being a developer in London, Canada” and hear about Ian’s experience at the DIG Conference.

Katie Wilhelm is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the London Economic Development Corporation. The top 3 things she is good at are The Internet, Photoshop and listening to Eddie Murphy’s “Party all the Time.” Follow her on twitter today: @KatieWilhelm
Pin It