TIFF Next Wave Report

May 13, 2012

TIFF Future Games, Students playing Face Fighter

You may recall that Jonathan and I were fortunate enough to see Face Fighter featured in the TIFF Next Wave festival. The event, which happened from May 10th – 11th, exhibited seven films and five video games created by post-secondary students in the Next Wave “Future Frames and Games” programme. The experience was incredible without a doubt, and here I’ll attempt to share my experiences.

Firstly, for those not in the know, TIFF (the Toronto International Film Festival) is a Canadian not-for-profit organization best known for their annual cinematic extravaganza, which regularly draws in celebrities, famous directors, and other related figures into the city. (I guess they show films too, but we won’t get into that). In the last few years, TIFF’s horizons have expanded quite a bit to help further foster and support creativity in the Toronto arts and media industries, most recently with the TIFF Nexus initiative. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the TIFF Nexus team a few times and can vouch for the incredible work they’re doing for the public awareness of New Media art in Toronto.

Introductions aside, the Future Games programme was a great opportunity for Jonathan and I to help make a bigger dent into this swiftly-growing Toronto indie game development scene. We were able to meet the developers of three out of the five games that were shown (four out of five if you count our game, but we were kind of already familiar with ourselves). To Glen Watkinson, Nguyen Tran, Derrick Law and Samuel Law, developers of Crack UP, Nimbus, and ASDF, it was an honour meeting you all and I look forward to seeing what new games you all churn out in the coming years.

TIFF Future Games Exhibitors

As for the “screening” itself, TIFF welcomed about 30-40 high school students on the first day and closer to 60 on the second day. We got to watch them enjoy our game, attempt to assist friends without realizing that the game’s head-tracking might be negatively affected by peering over their friend’s shoulders, and overall have a head-bangingly good time.

After students tried out our games for about an hour, we got to sit on a panel, mediated by the amazing Nick Pagee and Peter Kuplowsky, and answered some of the questions they had for us. Jonathan and I shared our experiences conceiving of the game’s premise (which involved a good number of Tim Horton’s donuts and some borderline-hallucinatory late nights brain storming), as well as some advice for students who were struggling between studying in a “profitable” field and, well…game design. Needless to say, we encouraged them to do whatever it was they truly loved while protecting the integrity of the game developer community. In particular, I mentioned the recent planting of Ubisoft’s Toronto studio and the provincial investments being made into the video game industry. For anyone who is struggling with their love of game making, I would say now is as good a time as ever to be apart of this ever-growing community.

I’d like to give a big thank you to all of the TIFF programmers and staff who made the Future Games exhibit possible. I had a blast participating in the event and hope to be involved in more to come!