Tag Archives: Jobs

I Survived the IN10 CMF Consultation (and all i got was this lousy blog post)

At the urging of a colleague, i attended the CMF consultation in the middle of interactiveontario’s IN10 conference. i didn’t take any pictures, but i found this one on Google Image search that roughly foots the bill:

Paint Drying

Behold: paint drying.

Here are some fast facts:

  • CMF, the Canadian Media Fund, is a $350 million dollar chunk of change announced recently by the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
  • The Fund is administered by Telefilm.
  • The CMF is split into two streams: Convergent (which requires a broadcast license to access), and Experimental. The lion’s share of the funding goes to the Convergent stream.
  • The Fund recently went through its first round, with a second round coming up this fall.

The purpose of the consultation, the second such meeting in as many days, was to discuss the results of the first round, and to ask about how the Fund could better meet the needs of its applicants in the next round. This time out, the Convergent stream did not show a huge clamour for interactive content funding; contrastingly, the Experimental stream was hugely over-subscribed.

Cheap, Accurate Data vs. Costly, Fake Data

One of the answers the CMF was hunting for was how to measure “viewership” for online games, sites and activities. They worried that tools like Google Analytics are untrustworthy, because they are fed their information by the first party. They suggested that they lacked the expertise to understand a tracking tool like GA. They wondered whether something like ComScore or Nielsen, being third parties, would be a better option.

i say that despite its faults, Google Analytics is a much better approach. Companies can directly share their GA data by adding profiles to their accounts. Anyone worth his salt can sniff out whether a company is gaming the system by adding too many calls – all of the data is laid bare. Not only that, but it’s free. Compare that with ComScore/Nielsen, which are 1. not free, 2. based on survey samples instead of real data, and 3. comparatively opaque their data collection methods.

Google Analytics

Seriously – is this hard to understand? It’s like Fisher Price built it.

Equity vs. Security

i mentioned at the consultation that the game studios around town were not thrilled with the CMF’s plan to take up to 50% equity in the IP of approved projects. (i used the term “collective freak-out”, which apparently shook up the proceedings … i guess when the entire room is half-asleep, it doesn’t take much) It makes sense for the Fund to want to recoup, but as one of my colleagues points out, there are other ways for them to guarantee royalty payments without having to take actual legal ownership in the project. i’d love for them to look into this.

The Areas of My Expertise

When i thought about it, i wondered if the Convergent portion of the fund had a lacklustre subscription simply because teevee people, in my experience, are resting on their laurels instead of seeking true partnerships with digital media companies. Digital media is so often seen as a component of teevee – as simply a way for teevee people to feebly extend their brand presence online, rather than as a way to really explore and leverage their IP in an exciting, participatory medium. Perhaps the Convergent folks weren’t pursuing the Fund to the degree that the pure Experimental (interactive-only) folks were, because they themselves couldn’t think of great ideas for digital media? i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again: if you want great teevee, ask teevee people. If teevee people want great interactive content, they need eat a slice of humble pie and recognize that it is a separate industry with its own experts. People born and bred in the interactive industry are best equipped to create great interactive content.

Google Analytics

Is this the last video game you played? Seek help.

To that end, the other part of my long-winded question was this: if i’m a teevee prodco, how to i find interactive companies to partner with? Is there a list somewhere, or … ?

A lot of shrugging and lost looks filled the room. Someone weakly offered “well, you come to conferences like this one, and …” But “NO!”, i countered. The province’s great indie game companies don’t attend these conferences. There are many companies who would make great partners – actual partners, not merely people to execute your half-baked vision – but you don’t know about them, because you’re not in the industry. (Again, let me stress that there are two different industries here – teevee and interactive. One is not a subset of the other.) It left me with the sense that we could really use a nation-wide directory, or some kind of speed dating service kind of like Game Connection, except closer to home (and without the four thousand dollar price tag).

Google Analytics

(i also wouldn’t mind ditching the creepy-ass logo)

In Summary?

Anyway, those are my thoughts – scattershot as they are. i didn’t apply for the first round of funding, and i won’t apply as long as the over-reaching equity requirement is in place. i know i’m not alone in that.

If you’re a prodco looking to partner (truly partner) with an interactive agency, give me a call! There are many of us, and if Untold Entertainment isn’t a good fit, i’m very glad to introduce you to one of the many other fantastic studios here in town.

Freelance Face-Off: You vs. India

Sluggish economy got you down? Can’t find work to (perhaps literally) save your life? Have you ever tried bidding on a project on an online freelancer site?

Freelanceswitch.com has a monstrosity of a monstrous list, which they call the Monster List (no idea why), which is packed with sites where you can post or bid on a job in the Internatz:

The list also has some traditional sites that traditionally list more traditional job offers:

Looking for an expert in Unreal Engine 3, PERL, Corel Draw 3 (NOT version 3.2), with seven years experience in iPhone development. Candidates interested in banjo will be given strong consideration.

The Boon and Bane of Knowledge Work

But what’s with this e-lancer stuff? i admit that in my darkest moments, i’ve looked into it. Here’s how it works: you sign up with the site for the privilege of bidding on a list of projects. A typical project would be

Wanted: 4-page photography website. Home, Gallery, About Us, Contact. Fast turn-around. Project cannot drag on longer than 6 weeks.

So you think “okay- i could do that.” And you reason it out. Let’s use Toronto freelancer numbers. The project will last 3 days (what’s this 6 week nonsense?). Maybe we’ll pad one extra day for changes and Acts of God. A decent and fair web builder rate is around $20-30/hr. Seven hours a day times four days, times $25/hr is $700. So of you go to post your estimate.

Then you read other people’s estimates, and a sense of horror creeps upon you. India has happened.

Enter India

India says “We can give you five weeks at $43.” And you think “$43? Isn’t that a little high for India?” And then you realize that’s not the hourly. They’re quoting $43 TOTAL for five weeks on the project.

Ganesha's extra arms help him code faster than you

Ganesha’s extra arms help him code faster than you.

And then Also India comes in and undercuts India saying “we’ll do it for $17.” And then Yet More India jumps in with “We’ll do it for free if you send us four cotton T-shirts and a yo-yo” And you realize that you’re likely not in the right league to bid on this, or any other e-lance project on any e-lance site anywhere, ever.

And then you get this unnerving feeling that the Zombie Apocalypse is already upon us, except instead of slow-moving re-animated corpses murmering “brraaaaains”, it’s polite and extremely well-educated Indians working for peanuts and pointing at their heads, bragging “brraaaaains!”

Zombie

i bet India could make that costume for a third of the price.

i was never one of these ass-scratching Nascar-loving heartland types griping about how all the “foreigners are takin’ our jobs away and marryin’ our wimmin.” But it’s a hard fact to argue when you hop onto e-lancer sites and see the dizzying discrepancy between what you call a living, and what India can get by on.

So what’s the solution?

  1. Get by on less. (But i’m a spoiled, fat Westerner! And i love STUFF! That’s no gonna happen.)
  2. Move to India. (Eww – no. i saw Slumdog Millionaire and it was all, like, gross and junk.)
  3. Change careers. (i hear car manufacturing is very promising.)

Press ‘Start’

Jean-Francois Levesque, a fellow IGDA (Interspatial Glockenspiel Defamation Alliance) LinkedIn member, recently started a new job board for Game Industry Grunts. These are entry level people, who are frustrated that the game industry is notoriously tough to break into because every position requires a few years’ experience, or credits on a published title.

Help Wanted in the Game Industry

If only.

The board is a fantastic idea. When i was working through my program in college, the buzz was that you could land a $60k job right out of school. Reality smacked me in the chops when i graduated and realized not only were those $60k entry-level positions a myth, but that any entry level position was a rare beast indeed.

i’ve had a few conversations on the LinkedIn boards lately about outsourcing, and they tie in well to the entry-level dilemma. i wanted to repost a comment by Fran Mulhern, a UK recruiter:

In years to come, the cost of doing business with overseas outsourcing studios will rise dramatically as their employees demand better living standards and salaries, and government welfare increases. And at that point, western studios are going to realise one thing: that in the intervening years they’ve neglected their own workforce, that there’s no junior environment artists locally to do the work. Why? Because for the last ten or fifteen years all the work has been going overseas.

At that point, the sheer lunacy of dumbing down your own workforce, while paying to increase the skill-base of another one, is going to come home to bite.

As well as seeing this in my own day to day work, my wife’s an animator in the games industry, and I see it through a lot of her friends etc. It’s not to say there are NO jobs for juniors any more – but there ARE very few, relative to even a few years ago.

Food for thought. Thanks for taking the initiative, J-F.

Earth Rangers seeks Web Coordinator

alt

Reduce. Reuse. Rrrebbit.

A gaggle of Corus ex-pats went on to start something big at Earth Rangers, an enivronmental education centre for kids. They’re looking for a Coordinator for their Interactive team.

The drawback is that they’re all the way up in Woodbridge. Perks include a Captain Planet lunchbox and free eagle rides.

Company: Earth Rangers (Toronto area)
Job Title: Coordinator, Interactive
Description: Earth Rangers is an innovative, dynamic and fast-growing organization which mandate is to inspire kids to act to protect the environment.

The Coordinator, Interactive will be responsible for regular updates to the Earth Rangers web sites (corporate and kids sites), researching and writing new material, and understanding and maintaining a connection with the users and kids that are visiting the site. The ideal candidate will be creative, possess excellent organizational and communication skills and is aware of online trends and culture specific to our audience.

See the full posting here.

CBC Goes for the Kitchen Sink

i was filled with regret when i let this job posting for a CBC Flash developer pass by without comment. Now it looks like they’ve reposted it, after failing to find their developer a few weeks ago.

Why, pray tell, would CBC not be able to fill this position? Let’s take a closer look at the posting. All they’re asking for is:

  • a computer science/engineering grad with
  • four years experience who knows
  • Actionscript 2, Actionscript 3 and OOP and is proficient in
  • Javascript
  • AJAX
  • JSON
  • XML
  • XHTML
  • Web Design
  • CSS
  • WC3 DOM
  • Photoshop, who also has
  • design ability and experience, and experience with
  • Windows
  • Unix
  • Apache
  • Tomcat
  • CVS, as well as content management systems like
  • Teamsite
  • Mediabin
  • Metatagger
  • Livesite, and a few
  • site documentation skills

If i was this person, i wouldn’t bother slogging through the doldrums of a 9 to 5 at the ‘Ceeb. i’d be melting supervillains with my heat-ray vision. The worldwide dearth of capable Flash developers puts places like the CBC (and Untold Entertainment, for that matter) into more of a “begging” than “choosing” position.