Students collab on VR climate change doc

by | Nov 23, 2019 | Biz/Tech, North

Ryan Michael Wanzala, Nathaniel Marksman and Josh Bergant, Biz/Tech Reporters

Humber is in the throes of a dramatic, story-driven VR revolution. 

CodeConnect, an event hosted by the college in the recently opened Barrett CTI offered a compelling glimpse into what VR could offer for the future of journalism. 

The third floor of the Barrett CTI featured a Virtual reality project collaboration between the Game Programming students and the Bachelor of Journalism students.

The project was a VR and Augmented Reality interactive documentary which toured the user around documented sections of downtown Toronto by Journalism students. It was intended to showcase a climate protest that occurred previously in Hamilton and a greenhouse-tour located on the campus of McMaster University.

“It wasn’t really our idea necessarily,” said Curtis Squire, a second-year Game Programming student, who exhibited the documentary. “We had journalism students send us all the assets that you just saw on screen. 

Second-year Game Programming students Michael Wilson (left) and Curtis Squire (right) exhibited a VR and Augmented Reality interactive documentary. (Ryan Michael Wanzala)

“That’s what made the collaboration so compelling to us. We could have one set of people go out and get everything we needed, and just send it to us at the end of the day,” he said.

Game Programming Coordinator Umer Noor created the showcase from his fascination with students achieving their goals.

“I’m always amazed. Making a game is really hard, I really appreciate the struggle that these students have gone through past the few semesters,” he said.

Noor said the collaboration was first devised by Mike Wise, a professor in the Journalism program, who expressed interest in linking the two mediums, working with Game Programming and 3D Design students to develop visual stories to be used with VR headsets. 

CodeConnect gave undergraduates a platform to unveil their creativity through game design, coding and scriptwriting. A plethora of mid-program and capstone demonstrations were hosted on the first floor of the Barrett CTI.

Game Programming students like second-year Alender Fazio got an opportunity to collaborate among his peers to create a 3D-modeled video game. 

“People used to say when they hear the words games, they would say go get a job, but now this is a job,” Fazio said.

He worked on a concept titled “Blade Works” that featured a hero who fought against monsters referred to as “slimes.”

Michael Wilson, a second-year Game Programming student, described the unique learning curve required to develop VR games.

“You have to be inspired by something in order to create it,” he said. “In order to understand the logistics of programming and designing the games you have to play them.”

Wilson said video games are like homework and it helps him come up with ideas.

Many students ran their prototypes to professors for feedback, and some will get the opportunity to display their full games to major developers like Ubisoft.

CodeConnect is expected to hold a second event next year, with a smaller demo showcase for next semester.