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Solar Game Boy Workshops & Game Jam

A gameboy accompanied by the line of text "Solar Game Jam!"

As part of the Solar Media Project and in collaboration with TAG, Michael Iantorno and Alex Custodio are organizing a series of workshops this summer, culminating in a day-long Solar Game Boy Game Jam.

All participants are welcome, no matter your level of experience with circuits, hardware hacking, or game design! To offer the tools to experiment with prototyping, we’ll be hosting three workshops throughout the summer in advance of the Game Jam.

While participation at the Game Jam is not contingent upon attending the workshops, we strongly encourage these short sessions for folks who have not previously experimented with GB Studio and/or Game Boy game development.

Solar Game (Boy) Jam

When: Friday, August 26 from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Where: TAG (EV 11.435 @ Concordia University)


The goal of this free, low-stress, experimental game jam is not to develop a polished game but rather to design small game prototypes with GB Studio, experiment with game development, and explore solar inputs.

At 5:00 PM, we’ll take our prototypes to the Milieux terrace to test and celebrate our games out in the sunshine!

The results of the three workshops and the experimental Game Jam will provide the basis for the Solar Media Project’s ongoing research into solar gaming. The most important thing to bring to these sessions is curiosity and creativity.

We want to see how far we can push these games and sensors with the goal of planning a more formal intervention and Game Jam in the 2022-2023 academic year!

Registration

All events are open to TAG, Milieux, and Solar Media Collective members.

Email michael.iantorno[at]gmail.com if you would like to sign-up to attend the Game Jam (registration required for team-making purposes).

Code of Conduct

We are dedicated to fostering a safe and inclusive environment at the Solar Game (Boy) Jam. This means creating an environment where people who are typically excluded from or marginalised in game-related or academic spaces feel welcome and respected. We encourage all participants to work together to prevent or reduce harm and ensure that marginalised individuals are not being pushed out of the space.

It is important to us that we create an environment that leaves participants feeling welcome and respected. Please see TAG’s Values and Code of Conduct for a clear description of how the Solar Game (Boy) Jam operates and what kind of behaviours and values we ask participants to hold during the event.

We require masks inside the main venue of the Solar Game (Boy) Jam as it is a simple and effective way to reduce COVID-19 transmission. Masks will be provided free-of-charge for all participants and, as an additional precaution, we will be running a HEPA filter for the entirety of the event.

If you have any concerns or feel uncomfortable with someone’s behaviour during the event, please get in touch with Michael and Alex. We will attempt to resolve conflicts to the best of our ability, but would like to highlight that formal university processes are not private and we cannot submit complaints anonymously on your behalf.

Special thanks to GAMERella for providing the template for this statement and to the Technoculture, Art, and Games (TAG) lab for developing an excellent Values Statement and Code of Conduct for use in their spaces.

Itinerary

10:00 – 10:15 Brief opening remarks
10:15 – 10:30 GB Studio tutorial speedrun
10:30 – 12:30 Jam time!
12:30 – 1:00 Lunch & check in
1:00 – 2:30 Jam time!
2:30 – 3:00 Coffee break & check in
3:00 – 4:30 Jam time!
4:30 – 5:00 Finishing touches (export ROM, finalize control schemes, etc.)
5:00 – 6:00 Playtest on the terrace

Game Design Assets

If you haven’t downloaded GB Studio, you can download it here.

We’ve compiled some visual assets. You can access the tilesets here.

Workshop 1: GB Studio and Makey Makeys

When: Monday, July 11 | 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Where: MilieuxMake Lab (EV 10.825)

This workshop will teach you how to build Game Boy games using GB Studio, a free drag-and-drop game creation program.

While homebrew design for retro videogame consoles is not a new phenomenon, GB Studio makes the practice unprecedentedly accessible. This workshop focuses on how to use the accessible game engine and how to use MakeyMakey’s as inputs to test the game and experiment with alternative control schemes. 

Please bring your own laptop to follow along with the tutorials. We will provide visual assets for you to use; no pixel art experience is required.

After a short presentation, Alex and Michael will spend the remainder of the workshop supporting you as you experiment with the program.


Workshop 2: Game Boy Hardware Hacking

When: Monday, July 25 | 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Where: MilieuxMake Lab (EV 10.825)

Facilitated by Lee Wilkins, this workshop will focus developing competency with Game Boy hardware and solar sensors. The goal of this workshop is to familiarize you with the hardware aspects of videogaming so that you are able to prototype games designed for alternative interfaces.


Workshop 3: Let’s Make a Solar-Powered Game Boy

When: Monday, August 15 | 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Where: MilieuxMake Lab (EV 10.825)


In this workshop, we’ll dig into Game Boy modding in earnest to introduce solar power to Nintendo’s 1989 handheld. This will be a casual, experimental, cooperative activity for people who are interested in learning how they can reduce the battery dependency of old hardware.

We might break things, but that’s okay because it’s for science! As researchers, we believe that it’s important to be able to take apart the black box and experiment with our technologies, no matter how many times corporations tell us otherwise!

We will be working together on a Game Boy that we have sourced. You do not need to bring anything but yourselves. You are welcome to use the information in this workshop to mod your own system at home!