GameX 2.0 unleashes upcoming artists, pro gamers and developers

Published On June 27, 2018 | By amychen | Arts

Stephany Lein, the comic book artist for Shelly, at GameX 2.0. (Amy Chen)

Amy Chen

What started out as a conversation between GameX 2.0 organizer Robin Dhanju and his girlfriend at a cafe ended up as a new gaming convention and show.

Robin Dhanju, the person who started GameX, at GameX 2.0. (Amy Chen)

Dhanju has always loved video games and started GameX to showcase that.

“I really wanted it to be an opportunity for kids and parents to connect over gaming,” he said. “And I used that as a springboard to develop the event, come up with the idea for the vendor booths and the tournaments.”  

GameX 2.0, held June 24 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, unleashed the talents of artists, gamers and indie game developers.

Take Stephany Lein from Studio Comics for example. She grew up reading The Simpsons comics and playing games on Super Nintendo, with Super Mario World being her favourite.

Lein has since created her own comic book, Shelly, about a girl whose friend died of leukemia. The protagonist deals with her loss by pushing everyone away. But in reality, she has a huge support network of friends and family who love and want to help her.

“Shelly is a character I created when I was 11 years old and I adapted her for modern comics to appeal to a larger range of kids,” Lein said.

“The one thing about Shelly which makes this special is that a dollar from every comic is donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada,” she said.

Another attendee who showcased their artwork was Aidan deSouza. His booth had Perler bead art featuring characters from Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda and Mario. DeSouza began making art two years ago and enjoys most creating 3D work, prints and canvases from the The Legend of Zelda series.

“I’m inspired by pop culture, and I’ve been doing it for two years now,” deSouza said. “I started off making it for myself, and now I’m selling it.”

Vikram “Nightmare” Singh, who competed in the Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament at GameX 2.0. (Amy Chen)

GameX 2.0 also had a Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament where winners get a Nintendo Switch.

Vikram “Nightmare” Singh was one of the competitors. He is a Super Smash Bros Melee player who usually plays as the character Marth for PLAYER5, an eSports organization. He was ranked fourth earlier this year among all of Southern Ontario contenders.

“I’ve always been into gaming as a kid. I’ve always been competitive — I’ve played basketball, too,” Singh said.

“Back in the day, I would look up to players who were really good with Marth, like Ken [Hoang],” he said. “But getting better, you grow your own styles, so these days, I watch my own gameplay to get better.”

Singh had another tournament later in the day, hosted by PLAYER5 TV where he acted as the commentator. He is thankful for being able to play a game he has always enjoyed and travel to compete in competitive tournaments.

“ESports is really big. Honestly, I never saw it growing this much. The better I got, the more people looked into my name and saw how good I am. I’ve had sponsors who actually flew me out to U.S. tournaments,” he said. “It’s a great hobby, but I can turn it into a career.”

Another developer at GameX 2.0 was Matt Kap, who dubbed himself as the “Final Boss” at LABS Works. At his booth, gaming fans tested the demo of his Astalon: Tears Of The Earth game, which was inspired by Castlevania, The Legend of Zelda, Megaman and Metroid.

Matt Kap, the “Final Boss” at LABS Works, at his indie game developer booth at GameX 2.0. (Amy Chen)

Players act as three adventurers whose village was poisoned in a post-apocalyptic world. Eventually, players find a dark tower, where they have to ascend using unique skills in order to find the reason behind the poison.

The most challenging aspect of developing Astalon: Tears Of The Earth was that Kap’s development team lives around the world. Kap lives in Mississauga, his programmer lives in France, and his artist, Ryūsuke Mita, the creator of the Dragon Half manga, which ran between 1988 and 1994, resides in Japan. 

Kap hopes to bring the game to Steam, a gaming platform, and consoles in the future.

Taking on the virtual reality (VR) world with their unannounced game title at GameX 2.0 was Cyberian Studios.

Dariush Zarezadeh and his fellow co-founders Ivan Tin-Jun Lau and Tharshi Sri first met at university and teamed up to make games. When they first tried out a VR headset, they fell in love with it and decided to make a game that uses virtual technology.

“The game is an asymmetrical multiplayer,” Zarezadeh said. “We wanted to bring multiplayer to VR, but without multiple headsets. So, what we did instead was have one person playing on the keyboard and mouse, while the other person is in VR.

“The person on the keyboard and mouse is playing Tetris, essentially — trying to squish the VR player who’s at the ground teleporting back and forth, trying to get up to victory,” he said.

Left to right: Tharshi Sri and Dariush Zarezadeh demonstrating their VR game at GameX 2.0. (Amy Chen)

Cross-platform gameplay was important to the team. Through countless hours of play-testing, the team was eventually able to make the game fun and fair across different platforms.

The untitled game is at its early stages, but Zarezadeh aims to get it ready for a September launch.

Reece Geofroy, another indie game developer at the show, developed Diminutive single-handedly. It’s an endless space runner and rogue-like role-playing game where players build relationships with different factions to stop enemies from taking over the universe.

“In order to do that, you have to destroy them in giant, endless labyrinths,” Geofroy said.

His biggest inspiration came from his childhood, when he and his older brother wrote down game ideas. “We never thought it would actually happen, but I’m here now, and making my first game,” he said.

After Diminutive, Geofroy plans to create more 2D pixel art games in the future, and is thinking of making a fighting game next.


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