EGLX ignites talented developers, artists, competitors and cosplayers
Electric blue strobe lights hit the stage of video game players when they faced off against each other, each hoping to be crowned the EGLX Hearthstone champion. Onlookers held their collective breath in anticipation as play-by-play casters “Firebat”, “Frodan” and “TJ Sanders” announced each turn leading to their opponent’s defeat.
Humber game programming student Gabriel Pacheco Alves Kalil was in the midst of it all at the March 9 to 11 expo at the International Centre in Mississauga, but not as a competitor or a Humber representative with a booth, but as a volunteer.
“I’m very excited with this event, and I’ll even be more excited if Humber was here,” Kalil said. “I mean, from my knowledge, I know that there are some students that don’t even have the knowledge of this event.”
He said the college should in the future have a presence at the event and set up a booth at the annual event.
“So, I think more proactive action by Humber would be very good,” Kalil said.
TriOS College and George Brown College students took part of EGLX within the Indie Corner.
Jaylen Romey showed his creativity through his work in 2D and 3D animation, while enjoying the networking benefits of being in an expo where others have similar interests. His display was a 3D model of Mario.
“I’m glad to see that there are other people who are interested and apply for our college,” Romey said. “I’m still learning, but when I achieve in my skills, I put it in my personal projects. Basically, I work, I improve and I move on from there.”
Winners of the Ubisoft Indie Series, Reptoid Games, was at EGLX as well. Reptoid’s Ryan Miller showcased the game Fossil Hunters, which was recently launched online on Steam.
What started out as a booth with a few players testing out the game on console ended up as a crowd. Many players were surprised by some of the pitfalls in the game and then laughed when the game offered advice on how to avoid the obstacles.
“It’s fantastic watching someone play your game,” Miller said. “Watching them as a game designer, you’re seeing these experiences that trigger responses in people, and every time that works out, it just feels so good.”
In another corner of the expo was the Artist Alley, where traditional painters and digital artists shared their work with their fans.
YinTing He was one of them, and her booth boasted gorgeous digital prints of Overwatch characters like Sombra, Tracer, Mercy, D.Va and Widowmaker.
“Usually, I play a game, and if I like it, I feel emotionally attached to it. That’s what prompts me to draw artwork for it,” she said.
He is also a big fan of Final Fantasy XV, and has sunk more than 200 hours into it.
“At this point, if I don’t draw it, I feel like I’m doing it a disservice,” she said.
The relationship between video games and artwork stood strong with another artist. Alex Chung featured illustrations of Overwatch, The Walking Dead and Star Wars characters at his booth. To him, EGLX is also a platform to showcase his work and improvements to his work and style throughout the years.
“It’s a testament for me to know that I’m improving,” Chung said. “For anyone to come by and look at my art and see the emotion invoked on people, it’s always a thrill.”
Humber’s very own club Game Jam Squad, which meets every Thursday, emphasizes the connection between gaming and artwork as well.
Student Michael Wells is in the Humber game program and, like Kalil, he also volunteered at EGLX. He greeted people at the registration tables, helped other volunteers get settled in, clarified paperwork and guided special guests.
Wells commemorated his fellow club members on their talent, and believes that Humber deserves to showcase both their artistic and programming talents to the industry.
“Networking is very important, and this is an excellent location to make some contacts,” he said. “I know some of third years myself, and some of them have made some very impressing games and gaming engines. It would mean a lot to spread the word about how good the program is at Humber.”
Wells favourite game right now is Divinity: Original Sin, which he finds is a good example of bringing that tabletop and Dungeons and Dragons experience into a video game. He enjoys the mechanics, player interactions and being able to control his own destiny.
In addition to video game showcases and art displays, EGLX was very supportive of its eSports players.
Kayla Haley, for example, flew from Michigan to compete in the expo’s Hearthstone tournaments. She previously competed in the World Electronic Sports Games championship tournament and won third place.
Her favourite deck archetype is Secret Mage, because many eSports participants advised her it was not useful meta-wise, yet she has won matches in WESG and TESPA thanks to it.
There are currently not many women participants in the eSports world, however Haley finds it has been improving with events like EGLX.
“This community means a lot to me. They’re all very supportive and all very open and accepting,” she said. “There’s so much diversity here, and it’s just amazing to see everybody come together and enjoy something and do something that they love.”
Justin Wong from Echo Fox, a professional eSports team, shared a different view on the difference between work and play.
“I think it’s really hard to differentiate between play and work, because when you started as playing as hobby, it becomes work once you get sponsored on an eSports game,” Wong said. “You have to do homework, watch more videos, do training.
“So I definitely think it does become work,” he said. “But when it comes down to it, when you get to actual events and just have fun and see your friends there, it all makes up for it. I think that whole work feeling goes away and it comes back to play.”
Wong has travelled the world as a professional fighting games player, which is a dream come true for him. He is humbled to be able to complete in games that he grew up loving, and be part of such a supportive community of players and fans alike.
“Seeing people come out to play fighting games and other eSports games like Hearthstone and Halo is just really cool, because that’s when you see like the passion,” Wong said. “They wanna get on that level when it comes to other eSports players that they follow.
“When it comes down to it, you’re gonna have fans, and those are the people that really keep you going, right? Those are the people that really want you to win, try harder, try your best at the next event and they just want to know you as a person and become your friend,” he said.
The cosplay community also benefits from events like EGLX. Candy Cosplay, for example, has been cosplaying for about 17 years. When she first started, she was very shy and nervous.
“I suffered from anxiety, and getting out and doing this has helped me with the anxiety and standing and talking in front of people,” she said.
So far, Candy is most proud of her Lady Loki, Kindred and Malthael characters, and loves how she can pair video games and the art form together.
“I enjoy the characters most of the time, or I just love the way they look. If they’re in huge armour and the armour just speaks to me that I wanna build it, then I wanna build that costume,” she said.
EGLX allowed gaming enthusiasts to come together and share their talents and passion. For Humber students Kalil and Wells, it was a fantastic networking opportunity that emphasized the potential of their peers at the Game Jam Squad and the community as a whole.
“Joining the club was very, very good,” Kalil said. “Because not only do I get to know more people in the industry and in my program — I get to know more friends.”
Despite not having a booth EGLX, Humber College students will be able to showcase their work at the 3D Animation and Game Programming Capstone Showcase at Lakeshore campus on March 27.