Developers flock to Vancouver gaming marathon
While the B.C. government pumps millions into digital media training for post-secondary students, hundreds of amateur developers descended on the University of B.C. over the weekend to rub elbows with industry bigwigs for a 48-hour programming session to produce their own video games. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
Bleary-eyed and stubbly-faced after spending nearly 50 hours staring at a computer monitor, Ryan Booth still has just enough energy to let out a giggle at the sight of a digitally animated explosion on his laptop.
The University of B.C. computer science student was among the 260 developers who gathered at the Vancouver campus over the weekend to work non-stop conceiving and coding games from scratch for the Global Game Jam.
“The tiredness is completely self-inflicted,” Booth acknowledged as he and gaming partners Johnny Chien and Anthony Chow tweaked their creation at a workstation overcome with empty Red Bull cans and the smell of day-old McDonald’s food. The amateurs each slept about three hours camping overnight at the event.
Local organizer Kimberly Voll, a computer science instructor at Vancouver’s Centre for Digital Media, said the jam drew about 15,000 participants at different locations across the world.
“Vancouver is this incredible hub (for digital media),” she said, adding UBC attracted the third-largest gathering — a tenfold increase compared to four years ago when just 25 people showed up — which reflects the growing industry.
Premier Christy Clark announced last week Victoria is investing $113 million for an expanded Emily Carr University campus at the Centre for Digital Media, where students can pursue game design courses.
The Digital Media and Wireless Association of B.C. reports the sector employs about 22,000 in the province and generates revenues worth $3 billion annually.
And a big part of the jam’s appeal, according to Voll, is the chance for amateurs like Booth, Chien and Chow to rub elbows with local industry bigwigs who also used the weekend to test their abilities.
Despite the sleep deprivation, the three are adamant they’ll be back next year pushing each other to move from a simple two-dimensional game and produce something on a 3-D platform.