Game On In Vancouver: Videogame Industry Finds Comfort In Hollywood North

Posted by Elliot Chan on Mar 14, 2014
Formerly published in Techvibes Media.
For a while there, it seemed as though BC’s insubstantial tax credits and the immergence of the mobile gaming industry were causing many Vancouver-based video game developers to lose their jobs. Big name developers such as Microsoft, Radical Entertainment, Walt Disney Co., Propoganda Games and Rockstar Games were rather laying off employees or relocating.

But now in 2014, the digital industry fostered by “Hollywood North” is ready to win back game creators.

Earning the trust of Japan and Silicon Valley was the key to Vancouver’s come back. The exodus of some big name console developers made room for external developers to move in, namely from the East—no, not Toronto, but Japan. In the past year, more than a handful of the top Japanese game developing companies took up camp in Vancouver, including Namco Bandai, Capcom and DeNa Co. These foreign gaming giants are claiming that Vancouver is a perfect hub to do domestic and international business.

For one thing, Vancouver is in the same time zone as San Francisco, another location teeming with videogame innovation and talents. That made communicating between headquarters more convenient—while a non-stop flight from Japan to Vancouver was only a mere 10 hours—thus establishing a global network of gamers and developers.

The second is the consolidation of console games and the “freemium” model of mobile games had forced many gaming companies to seek assistance from local developers. Japanese developers aren’t exactly coming in and rehashing their successful products to the North American market, no, in fact, the objective is to take what has been working in the East and build upon it here and market it in a different way to an audience that has their own distinctive gaming culture.

The accessible geographical location and the healthy breeding of skilled gaming contractor have made Vancouver a hotbed for an industry constantly adapting to new technology. At the end of 2013, Entertainment Software Association of Canada reported that there were now 67 video game companies in British Columbia, behind Quebec and Ontario by approximately 30. British Columbia has 5,150 employees, in relation to the 16,500 that work in the country. With earnings of $2.4 billion annually, Canada holds the spot for the third largest video game industry, behind, you guessed it, Japan and the United States. Famous game developer Namco Bandai announced, after establishing The Centre of Digital Media in Vancouver, that it will strive to develop new online social games.

With all that being said, videogames in Canada are neither a dying art nor a dying industry. Gamers want more and developers want to create more. Studios, both local and international, are constantly seeking talented people with video game design and development, 3D modeling, animation, computer graphics background to help shape the future of video games.

Yes, that landscape of games is indeed changing. But whether it is on the plasma screen or on the smartphone screen, Vancouver is right in the mix in terms of innovating, developing, and influencing the next phase of gaming.

GILF me a break

OPINIONS_Elder

Does Japanese elder porn get better with age?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Formerly published in The Other Press. Jan. 28, 2014

For a country that censors genitals in “regular” pornography, while producing an ample amount of grotesque tentacle erotica, bukakee, and tamakeri, it’s not hard to believe that 20-30 per cent of the current adult entertainment in Japanese cyberspace is elder porn, i.e. old people having sex on camera.

It makes sense, after all: Japan has an aging demographic with a younger generation less interested in intercourse and more interested in relationships with animated avatars, inanimate feminine objects like pillows or dolls, and computer generated personalities. Now, I’m not one to criticize what other people do in the bedroom as long as no one is getting hurt—which I’m not always sure of when “researching”; what bothers me is that pornography is starting to give modern society a musky stank and an unachievable expectation for intimate interactions.

“It’s mostly older men who watch. Maybe some single women who are a little older,” Shigeo Tokuda, 79-year-old porn star told the Globe and Mail. “Definitely, they want to have some connection to a character that’s their age, to feel they can have the same satisfaction.”

I get it; we all have fetishes and we need outlets so we don’t repress the animal urges inside of us and explode. But we have made pedophiles out of people who are attracted to young girls and boys—would watching animated pornography (hentai) of children be any more acceptable? Niche markets work, every art form relies on some form of niche to keep the medium afloat, but just because there is a supply and demand, does that mean it’s appropriate?

I personally don’t want to see my grandparents doing it—and I wouldn’t want other people seeing my family members do it either. That shit is traumatic. The same way a family would be disappointed in their teenager for partaking in recreational drugs, having an elder adult porn star at the dinner table is not any less reassuring.

That being said, all porn stars must deal with that eventual fate of having someone near and dear see their work; it’s just a naked, wrinkly elephant in the room.

Sure, elders are adults and they deserve to make decisions of their own, but with the Internet being accessible to anyone of any age, shouldn’t we be more conscious of what is online?

I don’t want to make any low blows here, but the term elder porn means that the people participating in the act are old, and therefore, will soon face the inevitable. What would it be like living in a world where we’re watching pornography of people who are no longer alive? What will that do to our psyches with such content so easily accessible? Will videos be relics or artifacts of Japan’s ahead-of-its-time evolution? The Internet is able to hold content temporarily, but any computer-user can save the files onto their own hard drive. Porn stars die, but the pornography they create doesn’t.

I’m not against elder porn; I’m against the idea that the pornography world has created bedridden, tissue-wasting creatures who aren’t trying to achieve anything greater than self-satisfaction—oh, and sex robots. Sure, what people get off on is none of my business and I don’t want it to be, but I do feel there is going to be a legitimate problem; maybe not now, but if the trend continues and the Japanese continue to build an empire of bizarre erotic entertainment, how is that going to affect the next generation?

The same way recreational drugs have made a blip in our radars and demanded attention—I foresee pornography doing the same, perhaps to a wider scope.