Get Your GAMERella On
For aspiring game designers, programmers, artists and musicians, the 11th floor of the Engineering and Electronic Arts Complex has become a second home.
They crowd together around tables, their faces awash with inspiration, surrounded by laptops, pizza boxes and coffee cups.
Their challenge is to combine their skills to create a video or board game in a mere 48 hours, the course of a single weekend.
This is GAMERella, a game jam put on by Concordia’s own Technoculture, Art and Games lab (TAG), and you’re formally invited to get your game on.
The upcoming GAMERella jam, taking place from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, will be the third of the year. After September’s Boob Jam, which focused on the representation of breasts in the video game industry.
The chosen theme for this round is alchemy, a type of medieval “science” best known for trying to turn base metals into gold.
Game jam coordinator Charlotte Fisher hopes to strike gold by turning ordinary female gamers and artists into enthusiastic game jammers.
“It’s important,” she said. “It’s the difference of having someone represent you and representing yourself.”
That’s exactly the point of GAMERella. Although the jam welcomes everyone, it is especially focused on the pool of burgeoning female game developers.
“Why can’t we make games and play them?” asked Charlotte. “How can we fit into the boys club? No. We belong there, [too].”
Although the number of women working in the gaming industry has been growing, there is still a visible disproportion between men and women.
GAMERella represents a chance for the ladies, who might otherwise feel intimidated, to geek out. Tickets for the event are free, and can be ordered as “boy”, “girl”, or the gender neutral “other.”
Before coming to TAG, Charlotte worked for Aboriginal Territories at OBX Labs. She got involved in game jams over the summer, when she did a collaborative feminist zombie game with Critical Hit Collaboratory, a game incubator that nurtures independent games for social change that’s open to everyone, students and non-students alike.
They’re interested in seeing innovation and creation—the types of games you wouldn’t see in the mainstream. “When you’re indie, you make what you love and you hope someone else will love it too,” Charlotte said.
TAG strongly recommends anyone interested in Critical Hit to participate in their game jam events, where it’s possible not only to test your skills, but network with industry professionals.
“Nothing is wrong; everyone is experimenting; no one is an expert,” says a line describing the event on TAG’s website.
According to Charlotte, it’s all about getting involved in the community.
“I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t thrown myself in there,” she said.
She admitted that it can be nerve-wracking to work with strangers—to that, she says, “Just throw yourself in and trust you’ll have a great time.”
Another way one might get involved is the The Mount Royal Game Society an organization consisting of indie and AAA developers who meet on the first Wednesday of every month to share and discuss current projects.
In addition, TAG has also started hosting workshops in preparation for GAMERella, to attract more novice game jammers and non-developers who are interested in learning the ropes of game design.
Recaps of these workshops can be found on the “TAG website”:http://tag.hexagram.ca.
GAMERella promises coffee, tea, food and refreshments as well as a good game time for all. It’s possible to join as an individual if you like a challenge, or teams of 2-3. They even recommend you bring a pillow, in case you need to catch some Z’s after long nights of gaming.
Interested participants can sign up for the event at gamerella.eventbrite.ca. More information on the event itself can be found on TAG’s website at tag.hexagram.ca.
GAMERella // Nov. 8 – 10 // EV 11.725 Lounge (1515 Ste Catherine St. W.) // 5 p.m. // Free admission