December 2013 Vol.1 Issue 1
World of cosplay
discovering the costs and benefits of becoming your favourite character
Gaming in the family Playing for YouTube? Monarchâ€™s Mission teaches kids how to share their feelings
Choose your character
Level 19 Stats:
Level 27 Stats:
Level 21 Stats:
Dillon is a reporter for the Scarborough Observer who has a passion for gaming. He follows all of the latest in gaming and is always looking for a new game to play. Dillon is a talented writer with a knack for photography and investigative journalism.
In the past, Whitney has held the titles of Copy and Managing Editor at Freshly Pressed magazine and hopes to use that experience at Press Start. She’s been a gamer for over twenty years with too many favourites to mention and the list is always growing.
Thomas is a writer for the Scarborough Observer with a strong passion for sports, gaming and business. Thomas has owned more than 10 gaming consoles and is unfortunately a fan of Toronto Sports.
Editor’s Welcome to Press Start Magazine, developed to showcase Canada’s video game culture. Video games bring us together with friends, family and even complete strangers. Unlike other magazines about video games, we focus on the people in gaming. The everyday ordinary men and women whose lives have been changed by games. In our premier issue, Press Start features coverage from the launch of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and a look at Toronto artist Adam
Note Gorham. Video games are becoming an integral part of health and rehabilitation for those young and old. On that aspect, we cover fitness games and where they’re heading, video game addiction and a special profile on Monarch’s Mission, an interactive video game that aims to raise awareness for mental health by teaching children about emotions. We are also profiling some aspects of gaming not often featured. Women aren’t regularly
associated with gaming, but are becoming an equally important demographic for the success of video games. This issue also looks at bonding through video games and how it builds relationships between parents and children. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of gaming and we’re thrilled to offer an avenue in which Canadian gaming culture can be show. Let’s get started. Time to Press Start. Printed by Mormark Print Productions
Select Level: Culture Video game characters coming to life 6-8 Pokémon: Fun for all ages 9-10 Play to win11-12 Not just a man’s game 13-14
People 15-17 Art: The real link between worlds 18-19 Gaming like a family 20-21 Resellers add human aspect to gaming 22 Let’s Play: Gamers on YouTube
Health Eliminating stigmas, one click at a time 23-24 Are Wii actually getting fit? 25 Down the rabbit hole 26-27
Start Menu Gaming
No game is perfect:
Wednesday 11th - Game design workshop Learn how to design artsy games using Twine, an open-source design program from the mind of Chris Klimas. The workshop is lead by Daniel Murtha, an animator and filmmaker with expertise on Twine. The event is at 87 Wade Ave. from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Toronto SkillSwap holiday bash - Friday 13th Celebrate another successful year of indie collaboration with Toronto SkillSwap. Meet up with fellow developers at Betty’s, at 240 King St. East at 7 p.m. for alcohol, food and fun.
“My horse tripped” - Skyrim
Friday 13th - DMG talks Join Dames Making Games at Bento Miso on 862 Richmond St. West from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. to talk about a slew of topics related to feminism in gaming.
IGDA networking event - Sunday 15th Skate around with the International Game Developers Association Toronto chapter at the Harbourfront Centre. Talk to an IGDA committee member wearing antlers to get a voucher for a free hot drink. The party runs from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Dress warm!
Monday 16th - Games with Friends
“I broke the Earth” - Minecraft
Get together with your friends and head on down to Bento Miso on 862 Richmond St. West to play, party and hang out. There are a slew of systems and computers to play all sorts of games, both triple A and indie. If the stuff Miso has isn’t exactly your game of choice, bring in your own games and systems.
For more gamer parties and events in Toronto, check out the Hand-Eye Society’s handy Calender at: www.handeyesociety.com
“Low-rider” - Assassin’s Creed 2: Brotherhood
The hardware run-down With the recent release of the latest consoles, we couldnâ€™t help thinking about all the previous systems. This timeline shows the consoles from the past 13 years and when they first hit North American markets. 8th Generation XBox One November 22 2013 Wii U November 18 2013 PlayStation 4 November 15 2013 7th GEN ER A TION Wii November 19 2006 PlayStation 3 November 17 2006 XBox360 November 22 2005 6th GEN ER A TION GameCube November 18 2001 PlayStation 2 October 26 2000
Dres up hard do
Cosplay can be behind the cos are hidden cos play
essica Irving, originally from New Brunswick, played the part of Kasumi Goto in the cosplay group, Halifax Effect. All 15 members were dressed as characters from the video game Mass Effect to compete in the Hal-Con 2013 cosplay contest in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Dressed in a pleather hood and body suit, Irving, 22, slipped into her thief role with little effort, but she was nervous as her costume was meticulously inspected by Yaya Han, a professional cosplayer, model and costume designer.
“That was superscary having her take my costume and flip over seams and super-judge it,” Irving said. “But she was really nice.” Cosplay, shortened from the term costume play, is a hobby that many have heard of, but know little about.
Money Woes While it’s one thing to dress up as your favourite character a few times, making 20 to 150 costumes is a completely different experience and expense. Irving’s fabric costs alone for her Kasumi Goto outfit were
$200. Olivia Ward, a 25-yearold cosplayer from the GTA, recently spent $300 on metal pieces for a costume. “Sometimes materials end up just costing more. I wasn’t expecting to spend quite that much,” she said. So how does one afford to cosplay? “You have to have a budget for it,” said Sarah Caracciolo, a junior web and graphic designer and cosplayer from Brampton. “It’s definitely not a cheap hobby,” she said. “Once you’re getting into it, you’re still spending money no matter what.”
Caracciolo, 24, runs panels at conventions on how to cosplay while not spending a fortune. She advises others to buy pieces over time so the cost doesn’t hit all at once. Being creative with materials, such as using a bed sheet instead of other fabric, can save dollars as well. “The great thing about cosplay: It’s so flexible in how you can decide to make your costume, that
“It’s defini a cheap hob you’re gett you’re still money no ma what.” - Sarah
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it can be for anybody at any price range,” said Emily Kusec-Ashcroft. “It’s a very accessible hobby for people.” KusecAshcroft, currently at Humber College for interior design, began cosplaying in middle school, but the 21-yearold became serious about it three years ago. She kept her spending down, but lost more time than money.
itely not bby. Once ting into it, l spending atter
Time Sink She put hundreds of hours into collecting images from video games, anime, manga and comics. It’s a part of the cosplayer’s process to research character designs. After building a large collection, KusecAshcroft realized she had hundreds of images and in May, 2012, decided to start her online Cosplay Reference Library. “It was time well spent, in my view. I love doing it and finding these things is like a treasure hunt,” she said. “I feel good at the end and I can share it with everybody and it
helps them.” By using the site, Kusec-Ashcroft hopes that cosplayers cut down their own search time and will be able to focus on creating their characters. Saving time and money are helpful tips, but what about actually sewing the costume? Caracciolo has that covered. She started a website that offers tutorials about anything cosplay. Cosplay Tutorial collects patterns, ideas and advice from people who have tried it themselves. “You can learn so much from other people,”
Caracciolo said. “What they did right or what they did wrong.” If things go well, cosplayers can find themselves being asked for commissions. Ward has been making her own costumes since 2006, but began selling them on her website, Olivia’s Atelier, about a year ago. At first, she tried to accommodate different designs, but now focuses solely on Sailor Moon and Sailor Scout costumes.
Put On A Happy Face Ward loves playing the character of Sailor Moon, but people don’t realize
Culture how exhausting it can be. “There’s the wig, the tiara - which is under the wig - contact lenses and
sometimes eyelashes. There’s a lot of make-up,” she said. “I enjoy being in costume, but it’s also nice not being in costume after being in costume all day.” Irving has felt that pressure to perform the character, especially before contests. However, the worst part of cosplaying for her is dealing with negativity. She’s been subjected to name-calling and bullying online and some of her photos have been posted on porn sites to embarrass her. “People can be really vicious when they’re behind the computer,” she said. “It’s really unfortunate that there are some people that have to be angry like that.” Anonymity from technology has changed the face of cosplay in another way. In the past, cosplay was about craftsmanship and portraying the essence of the character. Now, it seems to Irving, people care more about popularity and Facebook likes. “People should just focus on having fun and doing the best they can and learning new skills.” Regardless of the few bad bits, Irving doesn’t plan on quitting her hobby any time soon. “I would love to keep cosplaying forever.”
Previous: L-R Olivia Ward as Street Fighter’s Cammy, Jessica Irving as Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Rei and Mass Effect 2’s Kasumi Goto, Sarah Caracciolo as Yu-Gi-Oh’s Dark Magician Girl Above: Caracciolo works on a pair of clawed gloves Left: Top to bottom Irving as Serah Ferron from Final Fantasy XIII, Ward as Sailor Moon, Caracciolo as Pokemon Mismagius Below: Halifax Effect performs and wins Best Group at Hali-Con 2013 Photos courtesy of Sarah Caracciolo, Jessica Irving and Olivia Ward
Not just a children’s game for these fans By THOMAS MORRISON Amanda Antonyshyn and her brother Billy sit on the basement floor in their Scarborough home. Behind them stands a black cabinet filled with hundreds of video games. On one particular shelf is a stack of Pokémon games and about 20 different figurines of various Pokémon characters ranging from older ones like Charmander and Squirtle, to more contemporary ones like Dialga. The two siblings have shared a common passion for Pokémon going back to the early days of the series, which included Pokémon: The First Movie. “If you talked to our mom, she’d tell you we watched the movies non-stop,” said Amanda, 19. The release of the series’ newest games, Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, has once again put the game in the
spotlight, especially as these new versions are the first ones on the Nintendo 3DS system. Pokémon released its first video games for Nintendo GameBoy in 1996, with Red and Blue. Those who experienced the first games have grown up with Pokémon. Now those same fans are reaching their late teens and early 20s with the same dedication to everything from the battles to the graphics. Billy, 17, got his first Pokémon games, Fire Red and Leaf Green, when he was nine. He now has Pokémon Y, and finds the competitive way people can battle friends in the game adds to the appeal for teenagers and young adults. “When my friends get [the game], I feel compelled to get it too and try and build a better team, so there’s that competitive nature,” he said. Sasha David, a 24-yearold Toronto filmmaker, has fond memories of playing
Pokémon with friends during recess in elementary school. David echoed Billy about the importance of competition within the game. “In the game, you have the objective to capture all of the Pokémon,” he said. “When you look at the show and anime, the main character, Ash, doesn’t come nearly close to catching them all. With over 700 Pokémon, (it’s the chance to get them all).” He was first drawn into the Pokémon games because
of the differences between them and the television program. “(The game) was a better pace than the normal TV show,” he said. “You could go around different towns and check out places quickly. There wasn’t too much filler, like the show.” David believes the nostalgia factor associated with playing every game of the franchise is a consistent draw. “There are people who owned Red and Blue that want to continue to keep playing,” he said. “Some may not continue to buy games, but for the most part many buy the next version. It’s a way to (keep and embrace) a childhood memory.” Thomas Ma, 24, a Toronto grocery worker, uses any free time he has to play Pokémon, which could be as much as six to eight hours a day. Ma has been a big fan of the Japanese anime series for
over seven years. It provides a lot of the Pokémon plot lines, and Ma believes it is popular with older gamers, because of the different subject matter than the English series. “The anime uses more mature subjects in Japanese versus the English translation, which might appeal more to older teens and young adults, but they try and keep the games and English content kid-friendly (at the same time),” Ma said. He also feels that as the games have evolved, some aspects have remained consistent. This allows those young and old to enjoy the game. “The graphics have been kept in a simplistic form,” Ma said. “You have Ash, who never seems to age and remains youthful. That helps keep fans of all ages interested.” Billy has similar beliefs regarding the design of the
game, but feels Pokémon keeps up with current trends, especially as X and Y are on the Nintendo 3DS. “The games have gotten more current, so the designs aren’t as cutesy as in older games,” he said. “The art design of the game has changed, but there’s still that simplicity that fans of all ages can relate to.”
Opposite: Billy (Left) and Amanda play with their DS’ together Middle: Thomas Ma is focused on his Pokémon game inside Centennial College’s East York Campus Below: The start screen of Pokemon Y
Fighting for the love of the game An inside look at competitive fighting game players: They’re in it for the thrill of the match, not the glory of the win
By WHITNEY REYES arlos Valenzuela gazed at the rows of TVs that filled the concert hall. Fear crept into his mind as he realized he’d have to beat 500 people to be the champion of the Canada Cup fighting game tournament. He pushed his feelings aside to focus on his games, each Street Fighter IV match a test of mettle that would determine his rise or fall on the competition ladder. Valenzuela was eliminated after two days of competition. The winner walked away with money, prizes and publicity, but Valenzuela and his friends had earned what they came for. “We’re determined to win, but we can see it in a different way,” he said. “We’re going (to tournaments) as friends, we’re going as practice and we’re learning something.” Valenzuela, a freelance graphic designer, plays video
games to be the best he can be and not the ultimate champion. He has been in the competitive video game circuit since 2009. After seeing an impressive YouTube video of Daigo Umehara, considered the best Street Fighter tournament player, Valenzuela began playing two or three hours every night online through the Play Station Network and Xbox Live. Video game tournaments are often portrayed as glamorous parties where players have the chance to win millions of dollars, but Valenzuela’s first offline tournament was held in a movie theatre, run by a local games shop. It was a casual match just for fun, but the experience had Valenzuela hooked. “When you’re in a match and you feel like you’re at the brink of losing, you have that moment where you know the effort you put in to go through so much and then actually win it,” he said. “That gives you that full
clarity where you have the encouragement not to give up on it.” That kind of atmosphere cannot be copied when playing via internet, said Ken Silva, director of eSports Canada, a volunteerrun organization that promotes competitive gaming across the country. “It’s electric,” he said. “There’s really nothing comparable to putting something together where hundreds of people come out and enjoy it and are having a good time. You have to experience it for yourself.” Watching others play in person can also be more valuable practice compared to online play. Miguel Gamboa, president of the University of Toronto’s Street Fighter club (UTSF), believes that getting out of a routine is necessary for players to improve. “I think it’s really important to have different training partners and to really venture out Opposite: Kaj Marshall in not only plays Street Fighter IV against UTSC leader, Miguel the Toronto community, Gamboa but outside Above: Gamboa, left, uses Toronto and a custom pad in a match vs. venture to different Marshall places and
be a world warrior,” he said. Gamboa organizes small weekly tournaments for members of UTSF to give players a glimpse of what a large, fully-sponsored event is like. As with any competitive game, Gamboa says the feeling of a live event is different from one-on-one. “(It’s) encouraged for you to get excited and get loud and to talk trash,” he said. “When you’re loud that’s a good thing. People love getting loud in our community.” While the crowds yell encouragement, they also heckle. Opponents and spectators don’t have any rules concerning trash talk and it has affected Valenzuela’s past matches. “I lost the round because I felt pressure. I was cornered in,” he said. “But you’re here for a reason; (hecklers are) nothing to you so just try to block them out.” It’s an intense world to play in, but gamers attend in-person tournaments to develop thick skin from the experience, said Russell Ordona of Toronto Top Tiers, an organization that runs a large majority of Toronto fighting game events. “Everybody does get passionate about it. It does get heated,” he said. “But I hope that people do come and play offline because online is good, but it’s not as
competitive as you think it can be.” Part of the struggle of online play is not being able to see the opponent’s movements and play style. It’s a piece of the game that can only be learned in person. Players repeat hand motions in order to pull off killer moves, but anything can happen in a match. “I practised (that sequence) everywhere; practised it on my dinner table, practised it at school, practised it on the subway. At my second major tournament, my hands betrayed me,” Gamboa said. “I didn’t have that motion consistent and it needs to be or you’re screwed.” Although Gamboa considers himself a mid-level player, he continues to enter tournaments and compete when he can. He knows he’ll never be a top player in the world, but what he gets from the game is worth more than winning. “You might not even beat one person but that’s fine,” he said. “Being in the scene sometimes can be unforgiving but on the whole it’s very rewarding to be a part of it. “It’s a way of life and it’s taught me to never be satisfied with where you’re at and always challenge yourself.”
See video and more pictures online t a www.pressstartmagazine.ca
Games are for GUYS? Why the industry needs to change and how women across Canada are doing it By Whitney Reyes You walk into your apartment and you are instantly transported into another dimension. It’s cold there. You realize you’re trapped inside a fridge. You feel compelled to collect all the goodies and actively avoid the spinach as if your life depends on it. But evil forces are always trying to hold you down and keep you in place. Will you ever escape? Why is this happening? You are playing So You’ve Been Fridged, a video game made by OCAD student and interactive media artist, Izzie Colpitts-Campbell in collaboration with Katherine Verhoeven and Natalie Zed. Colpitts-Campbell has always been technical and artistic, but she never thought about using her creativity for video games. A lot of women don’t. “(Women) think games could be
all programming, all very technical, so they don’t find themselves aligned to those positions,” said Diana Arruda, a veteran in the video game industry and senior game producer at Arkadium. “They don’t think it’s a viable option.” Dames Making Games, or DMG, is a women-run non-profit that is trying to rectify that fact. It’s a Toronto community that assist women’s journeys into the video game world through a threepronged approach: make, change, play. They held their second intensive game creating workshop or incubator, called Junicorn, over a one-month period in 2013. It led eight women through the gamemaking process from start to finish, including art, coding and story design. This is when ColpittsCampbell made her first game, Wingman.
Above: Left and right - art from “So You’ve Been Fridged” Centre - screen from ColpittsCampbell’s game “Wingman” Courtesy of Izzie Colpitts-Campbell, 2013 She was not into video games when she started, but ColpittsCampbell continues learning programming languages and now has an interest in playing games. That’s all a part of the incubator plan, said Tanya Short, co-ordinator of Pixelles, a women’s gaming initiative similar to DMG, run in Montreal. “The goal for Pixelles isn’t just to get more women in the industry,” she said. “It’s to get more women comfortable thinking that it’s normal for anyone to make a game.” All types of games are made, from interactive simulations to 3D
math puzzles that teach geometry. Each project is as unique as the woman who made it, which is exactly what is needed in the business. “Who builds the game impacts who plays the game and that’s the bottom line,” Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch said. “The more diversity we have of colour, gender, sexuality - all of those things will make our industry way better and make us way better at serving consumers.” She is the CEO of Silicon Sisters Interactive, a Vancouver studio that focuses on making games only for women. There was a gap in quality between boys’ and girls’ games, said Gershkovitch, and Silicon Sisters tries to fix that. In doing so, it takes a completely different view on things when developing games aimed at women. Gershkovitch and her partner, Kirsten Forbes, researched how young girls think and interact in order to tailor games for them. They created the “women’s gaming bible” before starting the design process. After months of testing, they perfected their mobile game, School 26, and went on to gain almost a million downloads. The games that women make with DMG or Pixelles won’t be best-
sellers, but it’s not about making a super successful game. A large focus of these organizations is just to provide support for anyone who wants to be involved with video games. That’s the main reason that, although DMG’s spotlight is on women, it has a very open policy for its members and contributors.
“It’s been critical to have a very inclusive definition of the word woman so it includes trans-women and non-binary people,” said Cecily Carver, director of DMG. “We decided pretty early on in the process that we weren’t going to be women only, but we were going to be women-led and womenfocused.” Colpitts-Campbell recognizes the environment that DMG provides and appreciates being given a space to be herself. “We want to have a place that we can get together and be heard, as opposed to one token girl in the all-guy groups,” she said. “It doesn’t mean we’re separate from game culture. We’re just a different part of it.” Unfortunately, the industry still gives off a “boys- only” vibe and Arruda thinks it needs to change its ways in order to grow. “By incorporating unique people everywhere, it can start becoming a serious medium.”
Above: Attendees of DMG’s October social played games designed by women Below: Screens from Silicon Sisters Interactive’s hit game “School 26” Courtesy of Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch
Art is the Link Between Worlds
By Dillon Hiles Gamers are no strangers to artwork. Video game characters have been the subject of or inspiration for thousands of pieces of artwork all over the world, but it is a rare treat for that art to be created before your very eyes. That was the case for Zelda fans on Saturday, November 16th, who gathered together for a Nintendo
promotional event. The Great Hall, 1087 Queen St. West, was packed with people dressed as their favourite characters from the franchise. They came to show their love of the series and test out the new game, The Legend of Zelda: a Link Between Worlds, a direct sequel to the 1991 title The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. The artist behind the mural, which depicts the “Cave-drawing”
of Link featured on the cover of the game and in promotional pictures, is 28-year-old Adam Gorham, a freelance illustrator who does work for Toronto’s Big Sexy Comics. The purpose of the mural was to create a backdrop for people to pose for photos in front of this new image of the iconic hero of the Zelda series. “They wanted to emulate the Link art from the game,” he said.
Gorham explained how he painted Link onto the backdrop, designed to look like an aged brick wall. “They (Nintendo) gave me a reference from a Link Between Worlds for the upcoming game, so I studied that for about a week just doodling it and thinking about the colour scheme because I have to lay it on onsite,” he said. “With the time that I had I outlined it a little with a bit of marker, roughed it out, just to get the size down, and they (Nintendo) were really adamant about getting the proportions right so that people could come up and take their photos in front of it.” Once the artwork was completed, people from the audience who dressed up were allowed to go up on stage to have their photo taken in front of it. Comparing Gorham’s work to the image on the cover of the game, the likeness is nearly identical. “I had the reference taped to the floor, and as I was painting, I would look at it and just step back a bit to judge what my proportions were like and how things were looking,” he said. “It got a little snug in some areas I’ve got to say, but I think it came out alright.” Gorham was definitely the right choice according to Matt Ryan, who works in communications at Nintendo Of Canada. “We didn’t really do a contest or a challenge to pick the person, we just kind of looked at our options and we felt that he was a good person to do it,” he said. “He did a great job so we’re very happy with that.”
“They (Nintendo) gave me a reference from ‘a Link Between Worlds’ for the upcoming game, so I studied that for about a week just doodling it and thinking about the colour scheme” - Adam Gorham, Illustrator
The important thing, according to Ryan, was to find a local person to do the artwork so that they could support a local artist, but also to get the effect that they wanted to create at the event itself. “We’re doing this in two cities, Toronto and Montreal, and it was really important for us to find someone local and someone that enjoys our games, that would be able to do it in a short time frame, because we wanted the live art to be a component,” he said. Ryan added his personal thoughts on the mural, looking towards it and saying “I think the quality of what he did is great.” Throughout the process of the piece, from the moment Gorham began working to the moment he finished, the stage was crowded with admirers snapping away on their camera phones, watching the piece come to life before their eyes. Of the 17 people in the crowds Press Start asked, not one person had any negative feedback. One man in particular enthusiastically shared his approval. “It was amazing to see it done live, and it looks spectacular,” Eric Wolinsky said, he and his girlfriend dressed up as the iconic Anju and Kafei couple from the 2000 title The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Gorham’s heart lies in comics, but he appreciated the opportunity to do the mural for Nintendo, saying “When things like this come along they are few and far between, but they are always a challenge and they are always fun.” Fans of Gorham can find more of his work at bigsexycomics.com or by visiting his personal blog aprincelydreadful.blogspot.com.
Gaming: The family tradition By Dillon Hiles As the sounds of the old retro Sonic the Hedgehog game fill the room, Malcolm Kelly talks animatedly about how his son, Patrick Kelly got into gaming. Malcolm begins to turn off the Sega and pull out the Nintendo 64, while talking about one of Patrick’s first games, Street Fighter II, when he was only four years old. “When he was that age, Patrick was a button masher,” said Malcolm, enthusiastically banging on the floor to demonstrate. “That was the arcade era,” Patrick interjects. “We’d go to the arcade at the Scarborough Town Centre.” Patrick, now 23, would have to stand on a milk cart as a kid to reach the controls so he could beat teenagers. Patrick interrupts Malcolm’s story to add his own thoughts and comments, and finally they finish setting up the N64 and start up Super Mario 64. They bicker and banter loudly as they play, smiling and having fun with the game. They take turns playing the single player game, switching the controller when the other dies and cracking jokes at the others expense. “We’re not playing this up for you guys, we actually fight this much when we play,” Patrick said, with a big grin. “In fact, we fight
so much you’d think we weren’t having fun, but we are.” Malcolm, 54, is currently a journalism teacher and a freelance sports reporter and the former games editor for the National Post, and Patrick
worked under him, doing game reviews for the Post when he was only 13. Patrick described Malcolm as “both my father and my older brother,” and their close relationship with each other has a lot to do with gaming. According to both Malcolm and Patrick, they drifted apart for a short time, but then one day Patrick showed his dad a video online of someone beating Super Mario 64 in under 2 hours. Following that, in August, Malcolm pulled out their N64, and the two men played it and beat the entire game together. “Having this little pastime, it made me want to spend time with him again,” said Patrick. “And to be honest I can’t say I always have.” These days, if they have the time together, they will set themselves up on the couch and play together for an hour or two. But they aren’t the only ones.
Though they don’t play retro games, Tina Armstrong and her six-year-old son John have a similar story. When their schedules align and weather does not permit outdoor play, particularly in the winter, Tina and John will play games on the Nintendo Wii or Sony Play Station 3. Like Malcolm and Patrick, these two simply gravitated towards video games as a way of spending family time. “We can relate to each other,” said Tina. “It’s not a competition, it’s just
fun. It’s something to do when spending time together.” They play co-operative games such as Mario Kart, Little Big Planet, Donkey Kong and Wii Sports. For John it’s a fun thing to do with his mom, and for Tina, it can be a nice way to relax after a hard day at work. “We’ve got busy lives with school and work and sometimes it’s nice to just sit and chill and play video games,” said Tina. Playing games together isn’t always the greatest time though. Sometimes John may throw a tantrum when he loses, according to his mother, but otherwise it has been a positive experience for both of them. “We have fun playing together,” Tina added. According to Andrew Dane, a Psychology professor at Brock University, parents
participating in activities with their children is a simple way to make them feel more comfortable and attached to their parents. “This idea about having shared interests and doing things with a child, whether it be video games or anything, I think conveys that the parent accepts the child and that they like the child; it’s the opposite of rejecting, and that they are available to do stuff,” said Dane. Whether it be sports or gaming or artistry, the important thing is accepting and supporting the child’s interests, regardless of age. For Tina and John it was casual games, and for Malcolm and Patrick it was retro games. As far as Malcolm is concerned, “video gaming together is kind of like dad and son throwing the ball around.”
Top left and bottom right: Malcolm Kelly (right) and Patrick playing Mario 64 together Top right and bottom left: Tina Armstrong (left) playing with her son John 19
Resellers add human aspect to gaming As big retail game stores continue to dominate the gaming landscape, small stores like Gamerama serve the average Joe looking for a local face when buying or selling games
By THOMAS MORRISON Located at 2370 Yonge St, Gamerama sits down a staircase along the streets, next to the Yonge Eglinton Centre mall. Inside, Jeff Eidelman, head of sales at the store, leans over an open glass case. It’s full of everything from Super Nintendo games to unlocked cell phones. The walls around him hold roughly 12,000 different new and used video games of all genres and systems. Game resellers have become a rarity, as many of the small stores have been unable to keep up with bigger corporate retail stores. Those that have survived need to be more than a game store, and in Eidelman’s case, that means repairing new and older gaming consoles and mobile devices, making the store a one-stop repair shop. Eidelman joined Gamerama after years in the corporate world working as an accountant. With the gaming industry constantly evolving and fewer small game stores still operating,
he feels a strong business sense is vital. “Adaptation is important You have to be constantly changing to figure out what’s going on with business,” he said. On the other side of the coin, Kris Dell, a 22-year-old student from Brampton, has been selling games through online marketplace Kijiji for almost a year now and has found the site has been a go-to place for his hobby of selling games. “When I started using Kijiji, I’d be searching the site for about three hours a day,” he said. “Now I go on to post an ad and it’s maybe 10 minutes.” Dell first got into online game reselling when he wanted to play Nintendo 64 (N64). After buying the system for $70 and playing it, he decided to sell it, and was able to sell the system for $170. Adam Taylor, 37 a writer and avid gamer from Mississauga, has done some of his game shopping through Amazon because he feels retail stores try to sell
unnecessary add-ons. “Waiting for the game to be delivered is the hardest part,” he said. “You can go into a retail store and get a game instantly, but you have to deal with workers who will try and sell you extras.” Taylor sees the positive in game resellers because of the opportunity for a more personal connection. “You go into a smaller store and they’ll get to know you and find out where your gaming interests lie,” he said. “A corporate store, their job is to sell you as much as possible, even if it’s a game you might not really want.” The kind of personal connection game resellers provide is a major factor in their success. Dell makes most of his transactions from home and, because he doesn’t own a store, he feels there’s no rush to make sales immediately. “There’s no rent to worry about, so I can keep games until people are comfortable, knowing that the game(s) they’re getting are in working order,” he said.“They know the product works and
Level up with the facts! • • • • •
World’s third largest market after the USA and Japan Contributes over two billion dollars to the national GDP Employes 16,000 Canadians 5000 of those in BC Quebec is home to 97 video companies including Ubisoft Canada The average salary for a worker is $72,000
they’re comfortable with the price. [Buyers] also know they’re dealing with the same person again and again.” Eidelman has thousands of games and over 200 consoles at his store. Although the hope is that he’ll be able to sell the items, he always chooses the customer over the commission. “I’d rather take a loss than try and sell something that I think is damaged,” he said. “If you get a controller with a broken X button, I’m not going to leave you in the cold and say no returns. I want people to keep coming back.”
Illustration and photo provided by Dion Anderson
Let’s Play: Why we watch people play games on YouTube By Dillon Hiles
I was a little kid and I figured, why not bring what I know and give it to others, and it blew up from there.” Imagine that you wake up, burrito Initially, most of his videos were yourself in your warmest blanket, about tips and how to get past obstaturn on your Xbox and a camera, play cles. It wasn’t until he started doing video games for a couple of hours, Minecraft videos a year later post the videos on YouTube, and then that he really took off. collect a paycheque for it. Anderson’s audience grew For gamers like Dion Anderson, they rapidly and he snagged his don’t have to dream. partnership with MachinAnderson, aka “PBat”, is a 20-yearima only a year after he old-man from Stoney Creek, Ont. who started. gets paid to make videos of himself “At that point I was getting gaming and put them on the Internet. around 1,000 subscribers a day. He is partnered with Machinima Inc., It was insane,” he said. a company that, among other things, Fans of Anderson are welcome to produces and hosts thousands of meet him in person as well as online. video gaming-related YouTube videos He recently took a trip to White Oaks across multiple channels. Mall in London, Ont., and left an open There are thousands of YouTube invitation on Facebook for his fans channels similar in theme to Anderto join him. He said that he is open son’s, and many of them have a large to his fans and lets them know that audience. But “PBat” is unique. He if they need to talk to is one of the few “It’s one thing to just him, about anything, he popular gamers on YouTube who is Cana- watch a video and then like it is willing to chat and to respond to all dian. and leave, and it’s another tries of his YouTube messagAlthough YouTube thing to be a part of a video es. He attributes this partners are not allowed to disclose the and part of the experience, openness to his own life experiences. numerical value of “If (my fans) have the money they make, so I think that’s what people any life problems I can Anderson says he really enjoy.” try to give them advice, makes more money because I didn’t have than both his parents - Dion Anderson the easiest life,” he “off of just YouTube, said. “I’ve been through and they have fairly some hard times, so I know my way well-paying jobs.” It is enough money to live comfortably on his own with his around different situations.” Another way he communicates girlfriend. with his fans is via TwitchTV, which Anderson said he never expected to gain this much success when he start- allows him to do live shows and talk to his fans directly at the same time. ed making videos in October 2009. According to Anderson, creating this “A friend of mine was doing it, and sense of community involvement is it looked like a lot of fun,” he said. important. “I’ve always liked video games since
“People really like when they are a part of things,” he said. “It’s one thing to just watch a video and then like it and leave, and it’s another thing to be a part of a video and part of the experience, so I think that’s what people really enjoy.” These ideals seem to be working out for Anderson so far, considering that he is nearing 460,000 subscribers on YouTube, and each one of his videos gets between 15,000 to 60,000 views. Dante Williams, 16, is one of Anderson’s many viewers. Williams discovered Anderson in 2010 when searching for Minecraft videos, and thought he was entertaining, so he began to follow Anderson’s content and watch his walkthroughs. “It shows me a different way to play certain games,” Williams said. “So there’s not just my way, but there is a difference in how he would play it.” Williams mentions one point where he was stuck on the popular Valve title Portal 2, so he watched a walkthrough that Anderson did for the game to figure out how to get past the obstacles he could not figure out on his own. There is a large population of successful YouTubers appealing to the gamer audience just like Anderson. Jack Pattillo, senior producer of Rooster Teeth’s immensely popular Achievement Hunter, a collection of game-related web series, feels that it is an easy way to enjoy the games experience without the challenge. “By taking away the pressure of actually playing a game, you can relax and just enjoy the experience,” he said.
Eliminating stigmas, one click at a time A mother’s fight for an honest discussion about mental health issues By THOMAS MORRISON Suicide and mental health are subjects that can be difficult to talk about. According to Dr. Johanne Roberge, director of the Psychiatry Emergency and Crisis Service at SickKids Hospital, as many as twothirds of teenagers have suicidal thoughts at least once during adolescence. An interactive video game introduced by the hospital in September hopes to raise awareness of the issues surrounding mental health by introducing an interactive video game targeting children aged seven-12. Fran Brown, who’s daughter died in
2004 from suicide at the age of 41, spearheaded the creation of the game, Monarch’s Mission. The name relates to the monarch butterfly that represents the Lisa Brown Charitable Foundation. Brown said she was unable to imagine why Lisa, like many others, was afraid to be open about mental health. She approached the hospital about a way to address the issue of suicide and gear it towards younger children. Brown referred to it as “intervention through early education.” “I want kids to think of sadness as another emotion,” she said. “We have a whole bag of emotions, not
just happiness, and kids should feel comfortable (with all of them). We’ve brought a lot of illnesses into the light, but we’re not there yet with mental illness. Monarch’s Mission looks at different aspects of feelings and emotions. Players visit the fictional planets of Boldoo and Nella, helping inhabitants with emotional difficulties. Users are able to learn about the facial patterns that occur when someone is frowning, or differences between positive and negative moods. The game was officially launched on Sept. 10, also regarded as World Suicide Prevention Day.
Health “I’ve never seen a hospital recognize this date and [SickKids] would be at the forefront…and the rest is history,” Brown said. The goal of the program, she added is to “protect our most precious resource-our children.” “For me, prevention is building a healthy foundation, and addressing it early,” she said. “We should have an honest dialogue. Beating around the bush doesn’t get us anywhere.” Another component of the game is to help break the stigma surrounding mental health. Dr. Lin Fang, associate professor at the FactorInwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto, believes stigmas are still too visible in today’s society, and an approach like Monarch’s Mission can combine “online and real-life
treatment” with early communication. “There’s a strong public perception on stigmas and the effects of mental health illnesses,” she said. “It’s about public education and awareness. When we don’t talk about it, that itself is a stigma.” Roberge believes there are too many misconceptions about mental health, which discourage people from talking. “Everyone thinks, ‘I don’t want to be crazy’ or ‘People are going to think less of me,’” she said. “There’s a lot of behind-thescenes issues like family, relationships and school stress that prevent people from talking, and that’s something we want to look at with (Monarch’s Misson) “There are supports out there for people to talk. It’s a work in progress,” Dr. Roberge added. “The more we can get people to talk,
the better job we can do in the treatment of mental health and the (breakup of stigmas).” Brown wants to ensure this generation, often associated with technology, takes a real step towards change against stigmas. “I ask everyone, let’s not pass the responsibility of eradicating the stigmatism to another generation,” she said. “We must embrace the opportunity for the sake of our children and our future.” As more children are being introduced to digital technology at a young age, Fang feels the game is also a good chance for parents to learn with their children. “When we are talking about the new generation, they’re getting introduced
to electronic devices at an early age with their parents,” she said. “It’s something children can relate to and understand.” She
believes a program like Monarch’s Mission is a good template for bringing more technology to mental health awareness, noting the use of it in other medical practices, including
counselling. “We have cybercounselling programs that allow technology to be used,” she said. “People use webcams instead of being face-toface with a
counsellor.” Roberge agrees that technology could be an effective approach to enhancing mental health and feels strongly about its use in education. “If we can do this and get the message out, why not,” she said.
“I ask everyone, lets not pass the responsibility of eraticating the stigmatism to another generation.” -Fran Brown Opposite: Fran and Dan Brown hold a picture of their daughter Lisa Opposite: special cookies in the shape of butterflies at the launch Above: Fran and Dan Brown are joined by Dr. Johanne Roberge at the launch event Photos courtesy of SickKids 24
actually kids fit?
Only five per cent of kids are getting 60 minutes of physical activity a day
By THOMAS MORRISON Fitness has worked its way into every medium of entertainment. Music designed to pump you up, then the work out videos made for television. It was only natural, with the invention of modern motion controlled video games, for fitness to hit the consoles; but now fitness is starting to migrate once again. Nintendo started the fitness gaming revolution with its Wii Fit system in May 2008. The system allowed users to do everything from check their weight, to doing pushups and balance training on the floor. But as mobile apps that are devoted to fitness constantly improve and simplify the way we stay active on the go, it is becoming more difficult for traditional console systems to appeal to people on the go. Nick Shim, a software developer for Toronto Based Sago Sago believes fitness gaming is moving away from consoles and more towards apps with real-life interaction. “You don’t need to setup [anything] in your living room, sign in to any profiles, or interact with an avatar,” he said. “This technology is always on, so it’s tracking your fitness as you walk to school or party at the club.” Xbox announced the addition of traditional workout videos for its Kinect system, taking a conventional route of exercise and adding it to today’s video game technology by allowing users to move along to the video while using their Kinect . Shim feels it’s a positive step to encourage fitness through video games, but still done by motion control on a gaming console. “It’s more of a showcase of Kinect’s motion technology and less about fitness,” he said. Jennifer Cowie Bonne, CEO of Healthy Active Kids Canada feels fitness video games are not a suitable choice for daily physical activity. Her company works with governments and non-governmental organizations to inspire legislation to keep kids moving physically. They have examined more than 1,000 studies relating to fitness video games. “It is an exciting time,” she said. “We
do have to be very innovative to reach kids, but in terms of physical activity, innovation does not always mean reaching for technology.” Cowie Bonne feels traditional means of fitness are not only the most effective, but also the simplest for staying active. “We still have the same fitness tools that have been used for hundreds and hundreds of years,” Cowie Bonne said. “It’s as simple as going outside. Kids get fresh air and sunshine, as well as social interaction.” Healthy Active Kids Canada releases annual report cards on the overall state of physical activity among Canadian children and has seen little progress since its first report in 2005. “Only five per cent of children ages five to 17 are getting 60 minutes of physical activity a day,” Cowie Bonne said. “Forty per cent are getting 60 minutes three days a week but this is still less than half,” she added. Matt Ryan, at Nintendo Canada, says the company is offering a free trial to get people excited about their new system, the Wii Fit U, especially
occasional gamers, while also rewarding those with the older Wii Fit. With the rise in mobile apps targeting personal fitness, moves like this act as an incentive to draw in new consumers and reward the loyal ones. “People that bought Wii Fit or Wii Fit Plus will have the opportunity to download the software for Wii Fit U as part of a trial period, if they don’t buy the Wii Fit Meter, they can keep the game for free.” Ryan Said. He says Nintendo has always been about offering consumers “something unique and making it fun,” making it an exciting time to market Wii Fit U. “It’ll depend a lot on the consumer’s experience and how word-of-mouth travels,” Ryan said. He also reiterated the importance of using other means of physical activity in conjunction with fitness games. “It’s up to people to do things outside the software,” he said.” “We don’t expect this to replace going to wthe gym, we want you to still go and get physical activity in other ways. This is a nice enhancement and addition to what people are already doing.”
Photo courtesy of onoky - Fotolia.com 25
Down the rabbit hole Battling video game addiction is harder than ever with technologyâ€™s omnipresence in all facets of daily life By Whitney Reyes
im* played video games for four hours a day, but with a full-time job, attending school and looking after her three children, that time added up. She didn’t realize she had a problem until she quit. She stopped to support her partner in his decision to cut back. Unfortunately, he continued to play and Kim said he changed. He was negligent and became abusive, so she had to leave him. “He wasn’t dealing with his issues,” she said. “He was playing video games.” Video game addiction is an obsessive disorder that, according to addicts, is very similar to substance addiction. Kim, 25, is a recovering alcoholic and didn’t see the problem until she suffered withdrawal. She found herself feeling jittery and snappy. She didn’t want to take care of her kids and spent less time with them to play video games. “Over time (addicts) start leaving behind values like working to pay bills, or going to school, or selfcare,” said Vincent Chua, an addictions counsellor from Last Door Recovery Society, in Vancouver. “All these personal or family values created over time will slowly dissipate and disappear and the person doesn’t feel like it’s important anymore.” She needed help to stop so she joined Online Gamers Anonymous (OLGA) to find other people who could relate to her problem. She spent hours online seeking guidance, until her search became another addiction. “The escape is the key
thing,” said Cindy Ha, a Toronto relational therapist. “It feels like an interest, not that there’s an obsession around it.” This feeling is common with addicts of any kind and Chua sees it daily in his work. “Former addicts would have a preoccupation with an activity that seems to reward their feelings, like video gaming does,” he said. Ha expands on this idea by explaining that willpower comes from how one feels emotionally and if addicts feel good while playing the game, they won’t have the emotional resources to stop themselves. Kim experienced this with her partner. He told her that he had stopped, but she found out later that he had been playing behind her back for months. She offered him a second chance, but nothing seemed to work. “The problem lies in that they suffer from the inability to reach out and ask for help,” Chua said. “Disconnection is a big problem.” Ha said most of her clients are spouses, parents or partners looking for a solution to the addiction, but addicts need to recognize their problem before they can really change. Due to the nature of the addiction, both Ha and Chua agree that many go undiagnosed. Since it is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), there is little-to-no
funding for research on how video games directly affect the brain in relation to addiction. People can still function normally while having a video game addiction, so Ha believes that there’s no sense of urgency for more funding. “There’s no deaths that come out of it,” she said. “It’s something that’s started to gain interest, but unless it’s added to the DSM, the money won’t come.” Ha also explained that with technology so present in society, it seems “almost unrealistic” for addicts of video games to just stay away from their substance. But Chua believes that it’s absolutely necessary for addicts to learn a balance between addiction and recreation. Last Door Recovery Society offers a 12week program to help people recovering from addiction understand the dangers of online and video game use. Chua explains that people with obsessive-
compulsive tendencies need to be aware of the risks of activities that may become addictive. “There are positive attributes from video games,” Chua said. “But video gaming seems to be an evergrowing problem in my line of work in the last two or three years.” It’s seen as a gray area by Ha because there has been a lot of research with positive results by using video games in stroke recovery, for example. “(Video game addiction) is a true problem though.” After seeing the affect it had on herself and her partner, Kim quit playing video games completely and has seen a massive improvement in her and her children’s life. “My daughter’s stopped having tantrums and my son’s started getting good grades in school,” she said. “It was like a 180-degree-turn with them.” *Full name withheld for privacy Photos Courtesy of Epibrate Images and viperagp Fotolia.com
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