Game developers put their skills to the test at the ROM.
Guest blog by Brittany Budani, Publishing Intern
This weekend-long gaming event started in 2013 and continues to gain popularity. Game Jam invites motivated game developers of any skill level to get creative and develop a video game inspired by a theme linked to the ROM research and collections. The event was created to attract the interest of the “social generation,” who tend to value collaboration, participation, and opportunities for them to genuinely make a difference in the world. After the initial Game Jam weekend, the developed games are showcased in an arcade during public events at the Museum. Starting last year, grades four to eight students could play-test the games during a special school visit in which they learned about the collection that inspired the games, gave feedback to the game developers, learned how to code, and made their own game!
The 2015 Game Jam was the biggest yet for the ROM. Held October 2 to 4, 2015, the event had 90 participants in 28 teams, including professional game designers, educators, and students. Game Jam weekend starts off with a theme that is chosen to give the game designerssome inspiration; in 2015 the theme was Space Rocks, and designers created games that had players exacting revenge as the downgraded dwarf planet Pluto, gathering samples with the Mars rover, and competing against friends in a race to mine rocks from an asteroid. Game developers had the opportunity to ask ROM experts questions about space. On the first day of the marathon weekend the designers enjoyed a crash course in “Space Rocks” and planetary science so they could better understand the theme. On the second day developers were given advice by Unity Technologies Field Engineer Francis Duranceau, who helped the Game Jammers with ideas for creating an accurate game.
The 2015 event was also the first time the Game Jammers could stay overnight at the ROM while working on their games. They also got a special treat—a private midnight tour of the James and Louise Temerty Galleries of the Age of Dinosaurs, with the Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, David Evans.
On the morning of day three, the Game Jammers finished their prototypes and got ready for the first public testing in the afternoon. With last year’s Game Jam success, we’re looking forward to this year’s new game ideas!
Clash of the Talons
Clash of the Talons, created by Last Hour Games, was developed during the 2014 ROM Game Jam, and it’s the first game to be commercialized. Clash of the Talons features 10 unique birds, active in five different environments, battling in realistic ecosystems that can be found all over North America. Last Hour says their game was inspired by the power and skill of real birds of prey. In Clash of the Talons players can square off against each other by choosing their favourite bird of prey, and whoever catches the most prey wins the game. Clash of the Talons can be purchased from the Last Hour Games website (lasthourgames.com). A portion of each sale goes to support the Royal Ontario Museum.
Don't miss this year's Game Jam on September 16-18. This year participants are challenged to create digital games that animate the Museum's future gallery: Dawn of Life!
Originally published in the Summer 2016 issue of the ROM Magazine.