I found myself once again wandering the streets of Toronto. It was late and I only had a vague idea of where I was or where I was going. This is not unusual when it comes to any event in the city, so finding the holiday party for the Independent Game Developer Association (IGDA) Toronto Chapter and Gamercamp was another adventure in aimless searching. And Google Maps. So much Google Maps.
Party Like It’s Nintendo 64
It has been a fun year for me and an especially fun few months since I’ve started writing again. The IGDA and Gamercamp have been great places for the LeftStickRight team to explore what the city has to offer. Each organization and event represents a space where people come together to share their passion. The difference this time the passion is mostly for nachos and amber liquids.
When I did eventually find the Pacific Junction Hotel only a few people had arrived. Those present were sat in a table in the back with a “Welcome Gamers” sign scrawled in chalk near a ping pong table, so I knew I had found the right place. Awkwardly introducing myself to the group became a bit more difficult once a flood of people began to stream in.
Eventually some familiar faces appeared. Jaime, the festival director for Gamercamp, looked much more rested than the last time we spoke. He’s been “mostly sleeping” since the festival ended and deservedly so. I also had some time to speak with Lesley Phord-Toy, a producer at Ubisoft Toronto and president of IGDA Toronto. In fact, a lot of Ubisoft was represented. I talked with someone in QA and design and I’m sure other departments that I misheard while struggling to hear anything at all over the crowd present. All of them, however, were working on Splinter Cell and all ready for a break.
Food was plentiful, although having not expected such a thing I filled up beforehand, and the team organizing the event ran a raffle for the Daily Bread Food Bank that included some fun video game paraphernalia and managed to raise around $500 when all was said and done. A lot of the folks you might see at a panel or during a keynote are in the crowd and you can sense the great community feel. I ran into someone who was 8 months out from graduating from a program at triOS College with a few classmates and he noted the glut of talented people wandering around, perfectly willing to have a conversation with you about games.
Events like this punctuate why it’s easy for me to see why the Toronto video game scene is flourishing and will continue to do so. Although it may be small in numbers, it is a fun, social and supportive group that are eager to talk, laugh, share, debate and create together. Maybe next time we’ll be able to fit in a round of JS Joust.