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Think digitally, buy locally: 5 B.C.-made video games for the holidays – CBC.ca

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For some holiday gift shoppers, buying locally is a goal and if video games are on a loved one’s wish list, that won’t be a challenge — especially for those seeking out creative, off-the-beaten track titles.

Dennis Chenard, director of industry relations at the Centre for Digital Media, says B.C.’s smaller game studios have developed a track record in recent years of making those innovative products.

He says for curious gamers, they’re worth a try.

“Supporting not just the local economy but these creative outlets … creates a more playful world,” Chenard said. “It does lead to new and better play experiences.”

Here are five examples of locally-made games available for the holidays.

Hot Lava

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This game by Vancouver-based Klei Entertainment is a digital version of “the floor is lava.” This game takes it one step forward as you run and jump and do parkour moves in a first-person perspective across platforms on literal lava, racing against the clock. It’s just frustrating enough to make it challenging yet rewarding. Its aesthetic leans heavily into early ’90s nostalgia.

Available on: Steam, Apple Arcade

Stela

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Stela is a 2D platformer with a horror tinge from Burnaby-based SkyBox Labs. Your character wakes up in a cavern, climbs up a ladder and finds herself in a world in the throes of an apocalypse. In Stela, you solve puzzles, use stealth and sometimes just plain run to avoid carnivorous insects, ghouls and other dangers as you explore the collapsing world. It’s similar to Limbo, another puzzle-platformer. The visual style is reminiscent of the post-apocalypse movie 10 Cloverfield Lane and the sound design is chilling.

Available on: XBox One, Steam (forthcoming)

Garden Paws

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This is an adorable, zen game in the mold of Minecraft with touches of Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley thrown in. Developed by Burnaby’s Bitten Toast Games, this game puts you in the shoes of a cute woodland animal with a house and shop. You go into the wilderness to harvest plants and other materials to craft items for sale and help build up the town. There are dungeons to explore and monsters to fight. The art and music are warm and relaxing.

Available on: Nintendo Switch, Steam

Pistol Whip

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Qualicum Beach-based Cloudhead games is behind this ultraviolent VR shooter game. You shoot at enemies, dodge their bullets and weave your way through obstacles as you travel on an always-moving platform sort of like a people-mover at the airport. It gives you the feeling of being the star of an action movie like John Wick or Hardboiled. The movements required also give you the sense of being in a deadly dance party.

Available on: SteamVR, Oculus, Viveport, PSVR

Backbone

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This game from Vancouver-based EggNut is more of a belated holiday item because it is not expected to be released until 2020 but there is a free demo available for download. This game evokes point-and-click adventures like Monkey Island but with more action. You play as a raccoon detective in a film-noir-styled vision of Vancouver populated by woodland creatures like otters, squirrels and bears. The pixel art style gives it a striking throwback quality.

Available on: Steam (demo only), other platforms in 2020

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Britain in talks with 6 firms about building gigafactories for EV batteries

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Britain is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV), the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.

Car makers Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, conglomerates LG Corp and Samsung, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report added .

 

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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EBay to sell South Korean unit for about $3.6 billion to Shinsegae, Naver

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EBay will sell its South Korean business to retailer Shinsegae Group and e-commerce firm Naver for about 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion), local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

EBay Korea is the country’s third-largest e-commerce firm with market share of about 12.8% in 2020, according to Euromonitor. It operates the platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9.

Shinsegae, Naver and eBay Korea declined to comment.

Lotte Shopping had also been in the running, the Korea Economic Daily and other newspapers said, citing unnamed investment banking sources.

South Korea represents the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market. Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce has soared to account for 35.8% of the retail market in 2020 compared with 28.6% in 2019, according to Euromonitor data.

Shinsegae and Naver formed a retail and e-commerce partnership in March by taking stakes worth 250 billion won in each other’s affiliates.

($1 = 1,117.7000 won)

 

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum

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Canada is set to begin a hotly anticipated auction of the mobile telecommunications bandwidth necessary for 5G rollout, one that was delayed more than a year by the pandemic.

The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.

Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.

Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.

The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.

The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.

Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.

In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.

Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.

Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.

In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.

Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.

The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.

($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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