Mount Pearl company launches first videogame

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Daniel MacEachern
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Zorbit’s Math Adventure has provincial, federal government investment

Ed Martin, CEO of Best Boy Entertainment, announces the launch of “Zorbit’s Math Adventure,” the Mount Pearl company’s first videogame at The Bungalow in Bowring Park on Tuesday. — Photo by Daniel MacEachern/The Telegram

A Mount Pearl entertainment company’s first videogame is ready to launch — with taxpayer booster rockets.

Best Boy Entertainment on Tuesday announced the release of “Zorbit’s Math Adventure,” an educational space game for preschoolers, designed for tablets and Internet browsers. The game is funded in part with $500,000 from the provincial department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development for game testing, as well as just under half a million dollars from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency for marketing.

Ed Martin, Best Boy’s CEO, says the game — which has been in development for 2 1/2 years — lets children learn math via story and play.

“They don’t even know they’re learning, which is the magic of this game,” he said at The Bungalow in Bowring Park following Tuesday morning’s official game launch. “There’s a global math problem. Learning has become a problem — math’s reputation is not a good one. There’s a lot of anxiety attached to math learning. Parents and kids, even kids as young as Grade 1 feel anxiety about math learning.”

Martin said taxpayers are getting “a great deal” out of the government investment.

“When you look forward, we’ve got 18 people working here now. We have 33 more hires to make,” he said, adding that the burgeoning game industry in the province will attract employment and revenue to the province.

“There’s a wide-open industry to be created here in time, because we’re just on the cusp of new things in the gaming arena, particularly in augmented reality. But the most important thing for the taxpayer is this — we’re creating a whole new tax base.

See ‘THIS IS ABOUT,’ page D2

‘This is about building an industry,’ minister says

“This is an industry that doesn’t exist in Newfoundland and Labrador. This industry creates long-term employment and long-term profitability for companies that are in it. Those companies, those people pay taxes to the province, and they spend their money here in the province. And those companies pay taxes to the province,” Martin said.

Keith Hutchings, minister of innovation, business and rural development, said the provincial contribution includes a $50,000 grant and a $450,000 equity share with a payback schedule starting in 2014.

“This is about building an industry, a digital industry here in the province,” he said. “In terms of the indicators, in terms of over two billion in industry in Canada last year. … It’s a new industry here. It’s a lot of young people, high technically trained people, and as Ed indicated, going forward now with this product, they’re looking at increasing the number of people we have here in the province and building that cluster of human resource, but also from an industry perspective, which is so important when we talk about diversifying our economy and looking outside our borders to new opportunities.”

Martin also said Zorbit’s is the first game in a franchise for Best Boy, which plans to add new instalments to target increasingly older children.

Organizations: Department of Innovation, Rural Development, Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency The Bungalow

Geographic location: Mount Pearl, Bowring Park, Newfoundland and Labrador Canada

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