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We’re a superpower among cutting-edge video games

BY SARAH BERMAN, VANCOUVER SUN

From coast to coast, Canada punches above its weight in cutting-edge video games.

“We’re the third largest superpower for developing them in the world,” explains Victor Lucas, creator and host of the television show Electric Playground. “Canada has a tenth of the population of the United States, but we’re not far off in cultural output within this sector.”

On Saturday, in partnership with Vancouver Fan Expo, the Canadian Videogame Awards will honour innovative game developers north of the 49th parallel. Hosted by screenwriter and voice actor David Haytor, the event highlights Vancouver’s achievements, including world-renowned franchises like FIFA, Need for Speed and — you guessed it — Fight Night Champion.

“ … a large part of the history of Canadian video game development you can trace back to Vancouver, specifically to EA Canada,” Lucas says. “I don’t know if everybody understands how big FIFA is on the world scale — it’s one of the biggest selling sports games every year.”

There are 28 finalists nominated in 14 categories this year, ranging from a cyberpunk first-person shooter from Montreal, to a throwback 2-D iPhone game created in Toronto. “It’s kind of like we’re going back to the roots of game development,” Lucas says of the indie phone game SuperBrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, styled in pixelated ’80s nostalgia.

The downloadable adventure game is nominated in a whopping nine categories, including game of the year, best visual arts and best indie game. “It’s a beautiful piece of art — very trippy and surreal,” says Lucas.

A few new categories have been added to the mix this year, including best new character, best original music and best selling game.

“I wanted to honour a best new character this year because there’s really cool people inside these games,” Lucas says.

“What doesn’t get talked about is the emotional connection to the video game. Often you forget about you and become that avatar.”

Awards for the third annual CVAs will be handed out Saturday night, as part of the Fan Expo at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Lucas hopes the combination of nerd-centred programming will draw extra attention to Canada’s digital innovators.

“There’s never been this public geek celebration, where all of us fans could gather and meet the people that build this incredible stuff,” he says. “Now there’s a two-for destination for gamers and geeks.”

Originally Published April 18, 2012. Game artwork from Fight Night Champion. Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Canadian+made+video+games+recognized+Expo/6480000/story.html#ixzz2BYUExYKH

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