Game Design Alive and Well in Northern Ontario

Becky Tibble News

Alright, so we’re known for our plethora of mines, cold winters and bumpy roads but there’s a little known community of programmers taking advantage of this uniqueness. The Sudbury Game Design Challenge has done it again. January 2017, 18 teams swarmed the NORCAT Centre in Sudbury, Ontario for a 48-hour game design challenge. Whether you are a programmer, musician, artist, or just up for a good challenge, you managed to find your way to NORCAT for a sleepless weekend.

What exactly is a 48-hour game design challenge? According to Founder Mike Daoust, “teams of up to four competitors put their programming, artistry and design skills to the test by competing with one another to create a game in a very short period of time (less than 48-hours). Through intense competition, teamwork, and the promise of significant prizes the SGDC hopes to bring out the best of Sudbury’s digital designers.”

The SGDC began in January 2016, after Mike Daoust was inspired by the nation-wide competition, the Great Canadian Appathon. This event brought in university and college students from across Canada to create and compete for 48-hours. Mike saw a need for something more local, something to truly nurture the talent in Northern Ontario.  After two successful years (and more interested than anticipated), the SGDC has brought together some of the most talented individuals in the North. Not only did the competition host local Sudburians, the event brought in people as far as Sault Sainte Marie to compete for the weekend.

After the restless 48-hours, teams were given the chance to present their ‘Northern’ themed games to the judges, and other competitors. For the second year running, every single team went from idea to exciting prototype by the end of the competition. Many of the prototypes demonstrated a level of quality otherwise only seen in global-scale competitions of a similar nature. However, a winner wasn’t determined at the event. The weeks proceeding, the judges met to discuss the games, and determine top 5 teams, and a final winner. On Friday, February 3rd at Tom Davis Square the final winners will be announced. The winning team will receive a cash prize of $1,500, as well as a victory party at Let’s Scrabbalatte Board Game Café, and a booth at Graphic-con Sudbury to showcase their game.

To many, it’s hard to imagine a (relatively) small city, north of the 400, having a thriving tech culture. But if the SGDC proves anything, it’s that this culture is alive and well in Northern Ontario.