If you happen to be in Toronto and have some time to spare near the end of November, you may want to consider spending a few hours – or maybe even a few days – at Gamercamp Lvl3, an annual festival that celebrates all things video game with a special focus on the city’s bustling indie scene.
The three day event, which will take place November 25th through the 27th at multiple venues around Toronto's core, has something for everyone. Amateur and professional game designers can take in discussions focused on their craft, such as a session investigating what can be learned from games made for Tandy’s 30-year-old TRS-80 microcomputer (fondy known as the Trash-80). Other talks are designed to appeal to a broader audience of game enthusiasts, including the opening keynote, which will see Seth Cooper discussing his popular protein-folding game FoldIt and how it helped scientists solve a real-world problem, and a theatre demonstration of Eye Pilot, a new optically controlled video game.
There’s plenty of hands-on fun, too. Attendees will have a chance to socialize in a mobile game lounge, check out and get play time with dozens of upcoming indie titles, compete in tournaments featuring popular games like Super Street Fighter IV and Super Smash Brothers Brawl, and take a shot at setting a new Guinness World Record in the hit mobile game Mega Jump. There’s even a live-action, Mario Party-like real world event on the second night, which will see participants running between challenges around the city with spectators gathered in a local lounge to take in real-time updates.
"Toronto has a fantastic games culture worth celebrating,” said Jaime Woo, who co-founded Gamercamp with his friend Mark Rabo, in an email chat. “Gamercamp is an opportunity to bring people from all aspects of the culture – game enthusiasts, makers, and students – into one room. I love the idea that over three days we’ll see people trying to make games in just three hours, Matt Hammill talking about the gorgeous art from Gesundheit!, and a Super Street Fighter IV tournament.”
Holding a festival for gamers in the midst of a season that sees so many fans of the medium sequestered at home playing the year’s best blockbuster titles may seem ill advised, but Gamercamp has seen strong growth since its 2009 inception. Last year’s two-day event attracted 1,200 designers and fans.
Fittingly, given gamers’ ardour for arcane statistics, this year’s projected growth is being measured in, of all things, milk. Last year’s 8-Bit cereal breakfast on the festival’s final day saw attendees go through 104 litres of the stuff. This year they’re hoping to double that number.
Gamers interested in joining in on the fun can head to www.gamercamp.ca to learn more and buy tickets.