Scare your competition at the Spooky Shapes Game Jam Challenge

The Centre for Digital Humanities wants to challenge experienced game developers as well as newcomers to take part in their Spooky Shapes Game Jam Challenge.

Brock students are welcome to put together a small team of two to three students and register for this third annual challenge held on October 25, from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. and October 26, from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Teams will get pizza but the candy comes as part of the challenge and of course teams work hard to win the coveted Spooky Shapes award.

Teams are challenged to work together to create an interactive video game with a spooky theme within a 24 hour time period using the Unity platform, which is the tool for building the game. Participants are encouraged to watch YouTube tutorials on Unity before joining in.

“Game jams are about practicing your craft at the high end in order to push yourself through trying different techniques or different methods. At the lower end, it is great to learn something you don’t already know,” said Justin Howe, project coordinator at the Centre for Digital Humanities.

This event has grown from 30 people the first year to 45 last year. They are expecting up to 60 participants this year.

The challenge is not about horror or carnage — it is about a spooky or eerie game creation with rules and limitations. This year, teams will be assigned random thematic shapes that they must incorporate into their game such as witches hats and bones.

“A game that achieved a good effect was a foot maze where they recorded a blood chilling screech. The player moves through this area where there is a shopping cart, boxes and TV on it. If you got too close to the TV it lit up with static then this screech [would play] and the cart would turn and move towards you,” said Howe.

The spook factor is the key to the challenge.

“If you look at the simpler things on social media it is just as powerful [as high fidelity]. It is not super pretty and amazing in terms of high fidelity but it is very good at using the tools it has and that’s the idea around Spooky Shapes,” said Howe.

According to Howe, the Spooky Shapes Challenge tries to reinforce three aspects of interactive media. One, that the tools enable you more than they disable you. Two, the idea of time and budget management. It is a deliberate choice to make the team’s hand in their USB at 10:00 p.m. Friday night. They want to show teams that instead of working through the night, going home to rest allows for them to come back clear headed and ready to work the next day. The third aspect is time and project management. The candy works as a currency to buy tools to use in the game or for the construction of the game that will make them work more efficiently. As a team they have to decide if they get help for the cost of a candy in order to get the job done.

Through building a game in the Spooky Shapes Challenge participants learn aspects of interactive media that people can use today and in the future.

“The Centre for Digital Humanities is about technology and how it affects, persuades, informs, impacts and entertains people. That is what we’re about. We are interested in technology to the point where people are part of the equation and games are part of that,” said Howe.

Registration for this year’s Spooky Shapes Challenge is officially closed but interested students can look forward to next year’s challenge. Watch for other digital humanities events like their Open Play Test Night next term.

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