“Hi there, my name is Melanie Lapointe and I was a participant at the 2012 AppJam!
My friend Krista McCormick and I worked together on an educational game for grade 7 students that we developed for the BlackBerry Playbook called ‘RocketLaunch”. I remember walking into AppJam with my partner, and while we were setting up we looked around the room at all of the other student’s games and we felt so out of place, especially being one of the only 2 groups of girls in the room. This project had been our first time ever making a game or an app or anything of the sort, and we focused a lot more on the layout, graphics and design of our game than the actual “gaming” aspect of it.
While the first round of people came around looking at our game, we were very nervous. It was really intimidating to have all these huge industry mentors, who develop games as a part of their everyday careers look at our game. I quickly realized, that the mentors weren’t there so much to tell us what was wrong with our game, but rather to help us out with suggestions and show us ways we could improve it. They also gave us many ideas about continuing a post-secondary education and eventually pursuing a career in the industry. The mentors made me realize that the industry that I didn’t really want to be a part of in the beginning, is actually an area I might actually be talented in. Thanks to all the mentors, and everyone who stopped by to speak to us about our game, I’m now extremely interested in continuing building and developing apps.
As part of the AppJam, we also got to attend a talk at the Ottawa Gaming conference. I thought it was going to be too boring and “grown up” for me, but the Gamification talk was actually extremely interesting. I learned that the industry isn’t all as serious as I thought it was, and that there can be a lot of fun incorporated in having a career in this industry.
Although, my partner and I were lucky (and very surprised) enough to receive prizes for our work, everything that I learned about the industry, and game developing that day is more valuable to me than any prize that we could have won.
Endless thank you’s to everyone at TechU.me and AppJam, you all have really have a huge impact on my decisions from now on!
Student, All Saints Catholic High School
I’m Connell McCarthy from St. Joseph’s Catholic High School, and I was a participant in the TechU.me AppJam 2012.
So first off, the event was amazing and was very well done right from the beginning. They were well organized and it was obvious everyone was having a great time, (well I know I sure did!). Throughout the competition grade 7 students, the AppJam judges and some people from the Ottawa Games Conference stopped by to look at the applications.
The main focus of the grade 7s when presenting your application had to be getting them to like it right from the get go. The way that I presented the application was by first telling them a bit about the application, like the rules etc. and then I proceeded to tell them about the high score challenge. The challenge really got the students to like the game and want to play more. The challenge was basically whoever got the highest global score received a prize.
Presenting for the judges was a bit different. I wanted to present it in a more professional way and talk more about code and such, rather than have them interested in “beating the challenge”. So a couple things that I really put emphasis on when talking to them, was the global high scores. I thought that this would really impress the judges when they find out that you can challenge your friends to get the best score from all around the world! I also tried to emphasise that the application didn’t use any frameworks such as Cocos2d or the Corona SDK, so that they would see that I put a lot of work into making the characters move and animate.
Another part of AppJam was going to see Gabe Zimmerman talk about Gamification by Design. The presentation was hilarious at times and really enlightening on the ways that you can make anything into a game or into something that people will enjoy to use daily. He started the presentation off my telling us about a young kid who landed an airplane with ease, because he was used to playing video games. I knew from that point that this presentation was something really worth listening to and learning from. He spoke about how a big CEO wanted his employees to go to the gym more, so he created a kind of points system so that the team with the most points would get a reward.
Instant gratification was a main topic that he touched on multiple times, and he stated that we, as humans, are always looking for instant gratification. He explained that that is why we love to play video games. We can score and receive thousands of achievements just playing a video game for a couple hours, but in a day in reality we don’t get rewards that often. So that is where gamification comes in.He stated that the hormone dopamine, causes us to feel happy and that is why on social networks there are “followers”. It’s a system that makes the sites addicting and is a type of gamification.
So overall it was a great day and an amazing event put on by TechU.me and I encourage people to apply next year.”
Student, St. Joseph Catholic High School
“When we first got to the AppJam, my friend that I worked on the game with (Melanie Lapointe) and I had absolutely zero interest in careers that had anything to do with gaming. We went because our teacher had submitted our games from the first semester. After talking to some of the people there though, our opinions had completely changed. We had industry professionals telling us a bit more what the real workplace was like compared to our class, as well as some university and college students who had taken the exact same focus program as us (The Web Production Focus Program at All Saints CHS). I think it’s safe to say that we’re both a lot more interested in pursuing something like this as a career now. I think winning definitely helped increase our interest because it gave us a lot of confidence. We had kind of hated our game when we started, so seeing that it wasn’t nearly as awful as we thought it was a huge motivator to try making another game.
Getting to attend the Gamification by Design talk was also really helpful in convincing me that a career in video games was realistic for me, because I think there’s always a preconceived notion that gaming is really just for kids. Gabe Zichermann gave a lot of examples of places that games are being used that you wouldn’t expect, and it looks like there will be lots of jobs in different types of gaming for years to come.
All in all, it was an incredibly fun day that exceeded our expectations by a mile. We weren’t looking to think about our future careers when we got there, but by the end we were seriously considering a career like this in the future.”
Student, All Saints Catholic High School