Ground Zero for Calgary XNA Community

Calgary XNA User Group XNA logoLast Friday night, I had some beers at Milestones at South Centre mall with a small group of people in icy Calgary; Bruno Steppuhn, President of Zensoft Studios and Crowded Games, Bil Simser, independent developer, and John Bristowe, Microsoft Developer & platform evangelist (along with John’s wife, Fiona, who is expecting their first baby this spring… congrats!). MMMmmmm… beer.

The topic of conversation was the establishment of an XNA community in Calgary. XNA, as you may know, is the gaming “wrapper” around the .NET architecture, and allows rapid application development, especially in the casual games space.

It was one of those meetings where you felt that it was really the first meeting of a much bigger thing which can have a real impact in the local scene. The Calgary .NET User Group is 615 members strong (and are always looking for more)… the message that John wanted to make sure I communicated in this post is that developing games with XNA is just a stones throw away if you already have experience in .NET. And, considering that game development is a closet passion for many programmers, this is something that may ignite some imagination!

Missing from the conversation was Matthew Randall from Exhale Game Studio… as you can see from the blog on his website, Matthew is already excited about forming an XNA community, and John Bristowe’s involvement from Microsoft means that it’s time to make it official.

So… if you are a Calgary .NET developer, and interested in helping to form and/or participate in an XNA community, contact Matthew.

Bruno’s passion from Crowded Games is obvious… he’s creating a worldwide gaming development crowd source community, and having local XNA developers part of his crowd sourcing solution means Zensoft Studios can bring games to market quicker than ever… especially casual games aiming for XBox Live Arcade status.

It was great to meet Bil Simser (again)… he’s been an independent developer for a long time. Our paths crossed in the mid-90’s when he was working on systems for H&R Block, a client of our Greenpoint ProFile tax software back in those days. Bil’s claim to fame in the gaming space is cool… he’s developed architecture and modelling tools for The Sim’s as well as Railroad Tycoon. You can email Bil at or visit his blog at

John Bristowe is one of those passionate, unsung hero’s at Microsoft… his passion for the development community is obvious, helping them grow and manage their careers by providing connections. Contact John at