By: Geoff Kirbyson

VIDEO game players around the globe could be practising their angle-raise takeouts and sweeping skills if a local developer is able to draw to the button with its curling prototype.

Complex Games, an eight-person Winnipeg-based firm, has been awarded a developer licence by Nintendo, the makers of Wii, the most popular video game console in the world.

Noah Decter-Jackson, the company’s president, said it used a curling game as part of its application and, while there are still a number of hoops to jump through, he hopes to have it on retail shelves by late next year.

“It’s a very big deal and a great credibility point for us. We’ve applied before (for the licence) and were rejected. There are 52 million Nintendo Wiis across the world and more than one million in Canada. It’s the one console that is just about everywhere,” he said, adding the company also has a number of other games on the drawing board.

The licence enables developers to get their hands on Wii development kits so they can use Nintendo’s hardware instead of just their own prototypes in finalizing their games. (For the uninitiated, Wii has distinguished itself from competitors such as Play Station 3 and Xbox 360 with its wireless controller, a handheld pointing device that enables gamers to mimic the actual motion of a sport, such as hitting a tennis ball, throwing a knock-out punch and landing a ski jump.)

Completing the curling game will likely require a doubling of Complex Games’ staff and Decter-Jackson said he foresees the firm being a 50-person studio in five years.

He said the company’s home base made curling a natural choice for its first game.

“It’s a great fit for a Manitoba company. We have a long history of curling here and we do well in it. It’s a great winter sport that not many people know about in the U.S. It seemed like a good game to use to show off Canadiana and something distinctly Canadian in the winter,” he said, noting up to eight players can participate in a single game — two teams of four — and players can skip, throw and sweep.

Decter-Jackson said all of his employees have curled at some point in their lives but by no means are they experts. They do, however, have some connections to local aficionados who have provided them with advice on the game. Ideally, he said he’d like to get the likenesses of “big-time” curlers, such as Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones, the two-time defending national champion, in the video game.

A spokesman for Nintendo could not be reached for comment Wednesday but an email to Complex Games from its software-development support group said all Decter-Jackson needed to read.

“Congratulations! We are pleased to advise you that we are authorizing Complex Games Inc. for Wii software development,” the email said.

This isn’t the first licence obtained by the company to develop products for a multinational giant. Complex Games has been working on a trio of games for Apple iPhones since the spring. One of them, a skipping-stones game, should be available within a month. Two others, a “Robotron-style” game and another tentatively titled Castle Smasher are on track to be launched before the end of the year.

Complex Games is also working on a game called Pirates Ahoy for Facebook users, which should be available by the end of the year. In it, social networkers will gain control of a pirate ship, search for gold and engage in battles with their friends.

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