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Sub-rosa
Delights for the Play-ful
by Martha Ladly

PLAY: growing up digital explores the best in Canadian-made interactive media for kids. Canada occupies a special place in the production of children's drama, educational programs, and games, creating excellent broadcast and online programs like Degrassi.tv, Angela Anaconda, and Good Night Mr. Snoozleberg, which are exported around the world.

Why are leading Canadian creators such as Snap Media, DECODE Entertainment, Sarbakan, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), TVOntario (TVO), the National Film Board (NFB), Teletoon, and YTV so prolific when it comes to kid's media? Plants tend to grow where the soil is good. Historically, Canada has garnered a wonderful reputation for animation - fostered largely by the NFB, which early on created a strong foundation of quality Canadian children's programming.

Steven Comeau, co-founder of Halifax's Gemini award winning digital production company Collideascope (creators of Creature Sphere, which is featured in this issue of HorizonZero), offered this insight in a recent interview: "In the [United] States, entire blocks of children's programming are owned by single corporations, large scale vertically integrated systems, creating a conduit to the kids to sell their products. That doesn't make good programming. In Canada we have a unique situation: our proximity to the States, our ties with Europe - but we're not subsumed by that giant system. We have independent broadcasters and companies who focus on kids, who support a creative environment with a very receptive worldwide audience.

"Kids are incredibly sophisticated. You can't pull a fast one - they smell a rat instantaneously. If they don't like what you're doing, they let you know - 'that sucks' - but if you connect, you get instant feedback. So kids' programs and games can put out very positive messages for developmental and social change that have real impact."

We invite you to explore PLAY Valley, HorizonZero's very own emerald-green wonderland. Let Maury the Hoary Marmot and Lunette Von Loon be your guides. Visit the Playground, a games space created by the HorizonZero team, featuring dueling "Swine" by Geoff Lillemon. The Puffball Patch takes you to our favourite online games, Web sites, and programs. The Sandbox leads to LopArt. Or you can explore the dangling delights of the Magic Fish Mobile, including crunchy audio and text bites about kids' games in Quebec, games for girls, and online anti-bullying projects.

All of this, and more, awaits the PLAY-ful!

Martha Ladly is the Director of HorizonZero.

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