The nominations for the first Canadian Awards for the Electronic and Animated Arts are to be officially announced Wednesday in the Vancouver area, where the Sept. 14 event will take place.

The awards have beendubbed"the Canadian Oscars for video gaming and animation," according to the event's website.

To be held at the River Rock Show Theatre in Richmond, theawards will draw international attention to the Vancouver region's booming video game and animation industries, organizers said.

They said the Vancouver area is a fitting place to host the event because it has a large cluster of game developers: about 140 companies, employing at least 3,000 people.

"You've got the Juno Awards, you've got the Grammys, you've got the Oscars and you've got the Emmys and God knows how many industry awards shows, that it's not a bad idea," said Cliff Jones of the Art Institute of Vancouver, one of the awards' sponsors.

"And Vancouver, I'm not going to say it's the centre of the universe, but it's like one of the major game producers in the world."

Organizers of the event said the video game industry alone has surpassed the motion picture industry, racking up $30 billion US in worldwide sales.

Awards garner worldwide attention

Publicist Holly Carinci said the awards have createdquite a buzzaround the world, with reporters coming from Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

"What has been thrilling about this, is that it's a Canadian story and the world is covering it," Carinci said. "It's like being Hollywood for themovie industry."

Awards will be given out in 45 categories:15 in animation, 17 in electronic gaming and 13 to promising students in the fields.

A piece of Hollywood will even be coming to the event. William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek series and has a large cult following, will host the event.

Industry leaders and technical school heads said the awards have been a long time coming.

"The video gaming industry is huge in Vancouver, where it's an international leader," said Lodi Butler of BC Film.

"And on the animation side, it's a location both domestically and partnering around the world … creating some of the best animated programs you've ever seen."