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Video Games: The Next Generation
Highlights from Toronto's student game developers at the Level Up Showcase

The digital tabletop game

The third annual Level Up Showcase was held on Wednesday night at the architecturally impressive Design Exchange. Hosted by the University of Toronto, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and the Ontario College of Art & Design, the annual event provides student game developers from across Ontario (although the majority of participants come from the GTA) the opportunity to showcase their talent to the public and industry professionals alike. The projects are also judged by industry experts, with prizes for the winners from the very cool Anubis 3D printing company. There’s even a People’s Choice award based on votes from the general public.

‘Luminous,’ game of shadows

This year featured the most projects to date — a whopping 50 games were on display. The majority of projects were from U of T and OCAD (and there were even collaborations between the two schools), but Humber, George Brown, and even Carleton University showed games. Pretty much every genre and every gaming device was represented — from RPGs to Survival Horror to quirky, art-heavy indie titles, and platforms including consoles, iPads,  PCs, and mobile devices. I didn’t have a chance to play even half of what was there, but what I did see was quite impressive. Highlights for me included Luminous, a visually and mechanically impressive game about a shadow being who uses the power of light to manipulate other shadows in order to bypass obstacles; Synapse, where you take the form of an electrical pulse carrying neural messages through a nervous system; and Splash of Colour, where you splash different colours to discover and navigate the world.  There were also a couple of games I didn’t catch the names of, but one involved a bag of ice and penguins, and the other involved smashing your fist on a table like whack-a-mole or Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Penguins!

The showcase was a testament to the talent and ingenuity of Toronto’s small, but thriving (and quickly growing thanks to Ontario and Toronto’s grant programs), gaming industry. Canada has the third largest gaming industry in the world, and while Montreal is more well known for being the home of larger AAA studios like Ubisoft and EA, Toronto is home to smaller, highly creative independent studios. Keep it coming baby game devs, and we just might make it to #1 one day.

Congratulations to the winners of the competition, which are as follows:

The People’s Choice Award : The aforementioned Luminous, by OCAD/UofT.

Best Design: Dollhouse: Room 1313, by OCAD. A game about an emotionally damaged girl, set in the 1940s, that guarantees no two experiences will ever be the same.

Best Action: WIRE, by OCAD/UofT.

Best Game:  Awaken, by Brock University.

For more information, check out Level Up’s official website.

____

Megan Patterson is the Science and Technology Editor at Paper Droids and currently a Toronto Standard intern. She also tweets more than is healthy or wise. 

For more, follow us on Twitter at @torontostandard and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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