Toronto’s Independent gaming development scene is showing tremendous growth and has seen many success stories come out of Canada and into the international sphere. In a previous post, I mentioned a collaborative workspace that was designed to be a hub specifically for Web and Game makers alike. A place where people could work on their projects and interact with similar minded people. I had a chance to attend Games with Friends #16 at Bento Miso which allowed anyone to enjoy local multiplayer co-op video games on a projector screen, board games, and other consoles to take part in. The first thing that is noticeable at Bento Miso was the openness and friendliness of the community. Everyone was mingling and inviting others to play games with them and it was clear that there was an element of comradely togetherness.
I met with Jennie and Henry, two of the three Miso founders, and they shared their wisdom of building a gaming community. “The indie game community in Toronto has developers who share their knowledge, time and support each other in projects. We’ve been lucky enough to have people who help each other without being asked. What we’ve noticed is that the more time people stay here and work, the more they want to spend time after hours playing other people’s games and trading feedback and suggestions”, Henry said as he pointed at multiple tables of people engaging in their board games and video games.
Given my experience with gaming communities online and offline, I’ve always noticed that there is some type of management that runs behind the scenes in communities, such as directing where the community should be heading. This seems to be quite different from how Bento Miso is run. “We don’t manage the community. We give the opportunities to people who want to be involved and create their games. When people first start here, I ask what they are doing, and I will introduce them to some people who might have similar projects or interests but the rest is up to them. My job is to find out how they can validate their ideas. People are making games because they have the tools to get it done.”
During the evening, there was the premier of a new indie game which was just going through an early build. The game was projected on a large white wall in front of a large couch and the creators announced that anyone could play it and that they would love any feedback that anyone had for it. The game was called, “Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time”. It seemed to have inspiration from Mario, Asteroid, Tron, and had a great retro style with colorful visuals and atmospheric music. This was the work of Matt Hammill (@matthammill), Jamie Tucker (@jamie_tucker), and Adam Winkels (@winkels) with Ryan Henwood who worked on music.
Four people whom had all gotten together in this community space and had spent the last six months creating their gaming project after meeting one another in the space. Follow these guys on twitter! You won’t want to miss the game when it’s released. The game was in just the early build but you can tell there was lots of fun to be hard. People were vying for the high score in surviving attacks from aliens, spaceships and asteroids in which two players have to simultaneously move the ship and shoot attackers until their inevitable demise.
I spoke to Matt Hammill who told me about the gaming developer community at Bento Box, “Everyone is always friendly, helpful and very encouraging”. While speaking to him, Matt pointed our various people whom had been working on other projects and people that they would bounce ideas off of. This was clearly a great working space where the creative and driven were destined to succeed.
“Jennie, Dan and I are motivated by creative people”, Henry mentioned, “Toronto has a high concentration of super creative game developers. Game developers must possess multi-disciplinary skill, which is something that has always been around in Bento Miso. People here are all doing different things, but all work together. The name Bento Box, came from the fact that we all have different disciplines and we all came together to make a great meal. Game developers have the ability to create, distribute, market and test a game without a studio. People are able to release a game in which they can create a sustainable business model in which they can continue to work on games and create their new big project”.
With such a vibrant and expansive community, great environment, and experienced (and friendly) Founders, Bento Miso is a place you won’t want to miss!
Catch Bento Miso’s events on the website and follow them on Twitter where they will announcing all new events! If you have a passion for games and are interested in becoming involved, there is no better place in Toronto than Bento Miso to get started. Also don’t forget about the GameConnect Event at Bento Miso on August 29th, as we discuss even more about gaming communities, gaming development and much more! Register now and start gaming with friends!
NOTE: Check out Carolyn Van’s post on Bento Miso back in January when they were first opening their doors to the community!
(Photo credits: Jennie Faber)