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‘World of Warcraft’ Creator to Launch video-game Startup



Big video games, like movies, are usually created by squadrons of people, including dozens or hundreds of artists and developers.

And yet it is an individual who often stands out for creative contributions to the most successful games. For the Mario franchise and other Nintendo hits, it is Shigeru Miyamoto. For the Grand Theft Auto series, it is Sam Houser. Within the games industry and among diehard players, they are admired in the way Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are revered in Hollywood.

Rob Pardo earned a similar reputation during his 17-year career at Blizzard Entertainment, a game studio he left two years ago that has a rich legacy in the industry. Pardo was the lead designer on World of Warcraft, an online multiplayer fantasy game that came out 12 years ago and developed a following so passionate that players were willing to shell out $15 a month in subscription fees to kill orcs and goblins together.

Since its release, World of Warcraft has generated from $12 billion to $13 billion in revenue, estimates Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities.

“It is literally the singularly most successful game in history,” said John Riccitiello, former chief executive of Electronic Arts who now runs Unity Technologies, a game technology provider.

“There’s always a lot of hands-on success. I’ve been in the industry long enough to know that just about everybody credits him with the product,” he said about Pardo.

Pardo will now have an opportunity to show whether he can translate his success inside a big company like Blizzard into a much smaller games startup. On Monday, he plans to announce the formation of a new company, Bonfire Studios, with a handful of game veterans.

Pardo, chief executive of Bonfire, recently raised $25 million in funding for the company from the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and from Riot Games, a game studio owned by the Chinese internet giant Tencent that makes League of Legends, one of the most popular online games in the world. Riccitiello and others invested in Bonfire in an earlier round.

Based in Irvine, Calif., Bonfire does not have a game in development yet. Pardo, 46, says it is safe to assume the company will make online multiplayer games, though he has not yet decided whether it will create them for mobile devices, PCs or both.

“We have a lot of confidence they’re going to build something fantastic,” said Brandon Beck, chief executive and co-founder of Riot Games. “They’re pretty uncompromising when it comes to quality.”

For now, Pardo says he is focused entirely on hiring people to begin generating ideas and making game prototypes. Min Kim, a former executive with Nexon, an Asian game developer, and several former colleagues from Blizzard joined him as members of Bonfire’s founding team. He wants Bonfire’s games to re-create the social connections many players formed when banding together in clans in World of Warcraft, a game that allows players to fraternize with one another online.

“We don’t want to be constrained by genre,” Pardo said. “We really want to create games that help us make those deeper connections with each other.”

After leaving Blizzard, Pardo spent time designing another project, a custom home he now lives in with his family in Irvine. Allusions to geek culture are sprinkled throughout the home. There are side-by-side men’s and women’s bathrooms labelled Horde and Alliance, after the two character factions in World of Warcraft, and wooden floors inlaid with Tetris blocks.

Pardo said his inspiration for creating a startup with a small development team occurred while at Blizzard, during the making of Hearthstone, a digital card game that was a huge hit for the studio. At Blizzard, most game development teams were so large that some of the greatest challenges for Pardo, Blizzard’s former chief creative officer, were management-oriented.

The original team that created Hearthstone was unorthodox by Blizzard standards, consisting of a little over a dozen people. That relatively small size eliminated management layers that could make communication difficult and make some employees feel as if they did not have a stake in the project, Pardo said.

“Everyone got to be completely involved in game design,” he said. “I feel like that team’s culture was one of the strongest.”

Small game studios have produced some of the most remarkable successes in the industry in recent years. During his break from Blizzard, Pardo consulted with Riccitiello at Unity — through which Pardo was able to travel the world as a kind of goodwill ambassador for the company, meeting with game developers, including Supercell, the Finnish mobile games startup that makes Clash of Clans. Tencent recently bought a controlling stake in Supercell for $8.6 billion.

Blizzard has preserved a reputation for maintaining its creative independence while being part of a larger game publisher, Activision Blizzard, which has been known to kill games in development when they fall short of its standards, rather than risk tarnishing its brand. And fans flock to Blizzard Entertainment’s annual convention, BlizzCon.

“They’re in many ways the Pixar of gaming, or at least the Pixar of five years ago,” said Geoff Keighley, creator of the Game Awards, an Oscars-like ceremony for the industry.

“A lot of designers are typically known for one franchise,” Keighley added. “The great thing about Rob is he’s a bit of a polymath. He’s done a lot of different styles of games at Blizzard.”

Other star game designers have left big companies before and failed to match or exceed their previous success. Although there are creative challenges to working in large game companies, they do have advantages in their promotional capacity and technological tools. Pardo’s supporters are not concerned.

“If you could basically draft Kevin Durant and invest in Kevin Durant as an NBA player, you’d be an idiot not to,” Riccitiello said.

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Beauty Week is back at Hudson’s Bay in Toronto and it’s time to get glam



Beauty enthusiasts rejoice! Beauty Week at Hudson’s Bay is back in Toronto for another year. It’s time to stock up on all of your fall essentials and, maybe discover some new ones. 

From Friday, August 18 to Sunday, August 27, you can expect a truly elevated beauty experience in-store with incredible special offers, limited-time gifts, and exciting activations. 

If you’re a diehard beauty lover, you’ll already know that Hudson’s Bay is the place to shop thanks to its extensive range of over 195 skin and makeup brands from both luxury labels and masstige brands — including Tata Harper, Estée Lauder, YSL, Nars Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, and so much more.

Throughout The Bay’s Beauty Week, visitors can take in some at-counter activations and interactive expert-led tutorials, where there will be chances to get makeup touch-ups from top-tier brands, try a spritz of the most alluring fragrances, and sample tons of new products.

This year’s Beauty Week highlight is the ‘Best in Beauty’ tote, a meticulously-curated selection of 30 deluxe samples from an array of top-tier brands like Dr. Barbara Sturm and Shiseido spanning skincare, fragrance, and makeup — all in a super sleek bag.

The tote, which is valued at over $300, is retailing for just $39 and is a fantastic way to explore new products (without breaking the bank). However, there is a limited quantity, so if you want to get your hands on one, you’ll need to be fast.

Wondering exactly what Beauty Week’s free gifts with purchases entail? If you spend over $95 at Lancôme, you will receive a six-piece set valued at $130. Or, you can get an Estée Lauder gift valued at $170 with purchases over $80. (And that’s just to name a few.)

If you’re a Hudson’s Bay Rewards member, you’ll also get $20 in Hudson’s Bay rewards when you spend over $100 on beauty.

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The Canadian Armed Forces are hiring for several non-combat military jobs



The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have several non-combat jobs, some of which do not require a college degree or past work experience.

Life in the forces has several benefits, such as paid education plans (college, university and graduate-level programs), 20 paid vacation days, health and dental coverage for you and your family, maternity and paternal leave, and pension plans. You can learn more about the benefits in detail here.

And to make it easier to gauge if you qualify, the listings also include related civilian jobs to see if it’s your ideal role.

Financial services administrator

Related civilian jobs: Financial records entry clerk, financial manager, accounting technician, bookkeeper, budget officer, cashier clerk, business planner technician, and verification manager.

Description: You’ll help budget resources for all military activities besides providing financial assistance.

Education: You need to have completed Grade 10.

Duties: As a financial services administrator, you’ll be responsible for bookkeeping and managing budgets. You’ll also provide support in accounts payable and accounts receivable.

Work environment: Those in this role work at CAF bases, on ships or overseas. You might also be expected to help special operation units, recruiting offices, schools, and medical organizations.

Postal clerk

Related civilian jobs: Mail clerk, mail sorter.

Description: You’ll provide postal services to members and their families at bases and establishments.

Education: Grade 10. No previous work experience or related career skills are required.

Duties: As the postal clerk, you’ll handle mail duties.

Work environment: Besides a postal office, you may work on a ship or a mobile postal van. You might be expected to serve with Royal Canadian Navy, the Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force in Canada and abroad.

Dental technician

Related civilian jobs: Dental assistant, dental hygienist.

Description: You’ll be helping dental officers provide dental services to CAF members, their families, and dependents.

Education: Level II dental assisting diploma from an accredited college or a National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB) certificate.

Duties: Those in this role will be responsible for various responsibilities, including disinfection and sterilization of dental equipment, applying rubber dams, placing cavity liners, and controlling bleeding. In addition, you’ll assist in laboratory procedures like creating casts, custom trays, and mouthguards.

Work environment: This role will require you to work in a military dental clinic, a Mobile Dental Clinic, an Air Transportable Dental System, or onboard a ship. You might be expected to work on a base in Canada or other operations in other parts of the world.

Human resources administrator

Related civilian jobs: Records administrator, data entry supervisor, receptionist, office manager, executive assistant, payroll clerk, and information management technician.

Description: Provide administrative and general human resources support.

Education: Grade 10. No previous work experience or related career skills are required.

Duties: In addition to human resources administration and services, you’ll be handling pay and allowances, managing automated pay systems, and maintaining personnel records.

Work environment: HR administrators work at all CAF bases in Canada. They also work on ships and overseas to support the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, or Royal Canadian Air Force operations.

Medical assistant

Related civilian jobs: Emergency medical responder, ambulance and first aid attendant, registered nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, and hospital orderly.

Description: Successful candidates will help treat the sick and injured in CAF units. You’ll be assisting and supporting nursing and medical officers.

Education: Minimum of Grade 11 biology, Grade 10 physics or chemistry, and Grade 10 math.

Duties: You’ll provide initial care and essential life support treatments in trauma cases. You’ll help with health assessments (hearing and vision tests, perform basic lab procedures, etc.) and initiate and manage medical records and reports. You’ll also be expected to provide support and first aid during training exercises.

Work environment: Medical assistants may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force or the Canadian Army as part of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. Those in this role are exposed to the same risks as the forces they support.

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Porter’s new loyalty program promises to match Air Canada’s Aeroplan status



Porter Airlines is once again stirring the pot among Canadian airline rivals, now going after Air Canada’s Aeroplan members by offering to match their loyalty status to an equivalent of their own.

The beloved airline, which recently ranked as having the best cabin service in North America, challenged the competition for the second time this year, after previously deploying a similar tactic against WestJet in the spring. 

Earlier in April, Porter presented customers with a limited-time offer to match the loyalty status of WestJet’s patrons with VIPorter levels.

Now, they’re offering Aeroplan members to seamlessly transition to an equivalent VIPorter Avid Traveller status based on their existing membership tier.

Members can then take advantage of an array of travel perks that come with flying Porter, including seat selection, baggage, and flight changes.

For those currently holding an Aeroplan membership, there are two ways to acquire the Avid Traveller status for the rest of 2023:

Status-Based Match:
  • Aeroplan 25K members = VIPorter Venture
  • Aeroplan 35K members = VIPorter Ascent
  • Aeroplan 50K, 75K, and Super Elite = VIPorter First
Flight Segments-Based Match:
  • 5 flight segments = VIPorter Passport
  • 8 segments = VIPorter Venture
  • 17 segments = VIPorter Ascent
  • 28 or more segments = VIPorter First

Members will have to first submit their applications on Porter’s website. Registration will remain open until September 6, 2023.

In order to maintain their membership level through 2024, customers will have until the end of 2023 to reach the following reduced qualifying spend (QS) targets:

  • Passport = $500 in QS
  • Venture = $750 in QS
  • Ascent = $1500 in QS
  • First = $2500 in QS

Over the past year, Porter has launched an aggressive expansion strategy, including everything from introducing longer flights on newly-purchased jet planes flying out of Toronto Pearson, free WiFi, and a new all-inclusive economy experience.

With Canadians losing both Swoop and Sunwing as WestJet incorporates both into their mainline business, Porter’s direct competition is welcome to keep prices competitive.

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