Global Archiact Jam

VR KITTENS, HARD WORK, AND GLOBAL ARCHIACT JAM

Posted on 04 November 2016

Global Archiact Jam 6 is open for registration! We’re incredibly lucky to have been able to host 5 successful game jams in the past. So LET’S REWIND back to our very first game jam winner – Amber Choo. Amber is one of our earliest employees but Archiact’s first encounter with her was as a game jam participant. Here is her story:

 

VR KITTENS, HARD WORK, AND Developer dreams

 

By: Amber Choo, VR Researcher & Technical Artist at Archiact

There are a lot of game jams. The average person working or studying full time can’t possibly participate in all of them. Roughly two years ago I saw that Archiact (at that time, a tiny company in a basement in Vancouver) was hosting a jam using Google Cardboard VR. My studies were about virtual reality and how VR might be able to help chronic pain patients reduce the intensity of their pain experiences (spoiler alert: it can). Although I didn’t know much about Archiact at the time, as a student I thought I would make the effort to create something quick, something simple, something fun. Something for myself that might end up being a portfolio piece later down the road. I had no formal training making VR anything, but the Unity Engine makes it pretty easy to jump in and wing things as you go.

The game turned out to be a very dark spinoff of Clefairy Says from Pokemon Stadium for the N64. When you put the VR goggles on and look down, you see you’re strapped to a chair with cartoon rope. And this cat - this absolutely adorable cartoon cat - is looking at you with a knowing expression. It tells you that you’re going to play a game. It’s a memory game where the cat dances up, down, left or right, and you have to memorize the dance order and repeat it by moving your head. When you fail, the cat ejects you into a fiery pit of death. What I didn’t know was that Archiact’s development staff take the time to evaluate every single game jam entry, and when they saw mine, they remembered it. Robyn Gummer, the marketing manager, invited me to the office to meet their development crew, and being the awkward gamer that I am, I remember being taken aback by how friendly everyone was, and not knowing what to say to them. I bought a pair of headphones with the prize money and wondered what it would be like to be them.

Fast forward a few weeks later: I met Derek Chen through a research lab at Simon Fraser. Derek is a very down-to-earth company President, and he takes the time to talk to everyone, including the little people. We ended up talking about directional issues in VR, maps and navigational solutions in virtual space, and Diablo III. Derek was thinking about doing a research collaboration with the lab, and I suspect he put two and two together about who I was: a serious VR researcher by day and an independent developer who made weird cat games by night.

I now work at Archiact primarily as an agile prototyper for our product team, and before that, I worked with Archiact’s art team as a technical artist. I suppose the message I am trying to convey is that these sorts of game jams - the jams that help you connect directly with a leading company like Archiact - are worthwhile because your entries are seen and appreciated. Even the silly entries are well loved and remembered. Participating also creates the chance to open doors of opportunity that you didn’t even know existed. And so I’m looking forward to seeing the entries for the Global Archiact Jam, and I hope someone will out-cat my jam entry this time around.

 

Screenshots from Amber's Game Jam Submission

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