TOJam Arcade and the Best Day Evar

They say you can’t win ’em all. That’s usually true, except in the case of my insane day at the TOJam Arcade when i, in point of fact, actually did win ’em all.

This is me, trying to blast off. Photo by the unstoppable Brendan Lynch. Click for the full TOJam 5 Participants Gallery.

TOJam, you may know, is the Toronto Indie Game Jam, where sweaty nerds spend a weekend building games. The fifth anniversary of the event was my fourth time attending. If i could go back in time, i’d definitely attend the first one. i’d also give Hitler a purple nurple.

A month or so after TOJam, the organizers put together a public exhibition of the games called the TOJam Arcade. The game creators can use that time to fix whatever didn’t work by the end of the original weekend (which is usually everything.)


This year’s arcade was held last Saturday night at the Imperial Pub near Yonge and Dundas Square. We succeeded in putting out the older barflies, who were pissed at not being able to watch their horse races, and the inebriated college crowd, who came precariously close to sloshing house draft on the data projectors.


At the end of the evening, they held a raffle with prizes comped by Big Blue Bubble, and some guy named Andy. They called my ticket number, and i was stunned to find i’d won the big prize of the evening – an Xbox 360 Elite bundle with Halo ODST, Forza 3, and a copy of Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia. It’s been over a decade since i’ve won something in a raffle, so it was a nice surprise. Thanks, Big Blue Bubble!

Soon after, they announced the People’s Choice Awards. Our game Heads was voted “Best Use of Theme”. The TOJam 5 theme was “missing”, and Heads is about a guy who wakes up to find that he’s literally lost his head. It was a really nice and unexpected win, but i think some other teams came up with far more subtle and clever uses of the theme. (Don’t get me wrong, though – i’m not complaining!)

Heads, coming soon to the web and Android.

After struggling to balance the Xbox home on my bike through rain-slicked streets, i went to lock up in the bike room and found a ten dollar bill on the floor. True. That actually happened. It all made me feel bad for kicking that kitten in the face earlier in the day.

Other Non-Me Winners

The top three Peoples Choice games included Nom Nom Nom Nom (a Hungry Hungry Hippos clone with three cats and a goat), MonoClimb, the black-and-white co-operative platformer by prize-donating Andy and friends (i mentioned it in my last TOJam article), and Last Hadron Collider, a two-player simultaneous obstacle race with randomly-generated levels and great-looking character sprites. You’ll be able to play all these games and more at the TOJam site once everything is uploaded.

Once the games are up, i’ll write another post listing my own People’s Choice picks with some undiscovered gems. In the meantime, i’ll try not to let our productivity on Spellirium take too much of a hit, now that we can finally put those extra Rock Band instruments to use at the office.

How are we doing on that next milestone, fellas?

15 thoughts on “TOJam Arcade and the Best Day Evar

  1. Fiz

    Congrats Ryan and Co! Wish I was able to attend the Arcade and try out for that raffle. My Xbox totally bit the big one recently, haha. At least I can send out for a free repair. :-)

    Can’t wait to check out Heads!

    1. Ryan

      Fiz – thanks! Our office Xbox bit the dust over a year ago and refuses to play discs. It’s fine for an XNA dev machine and for XBLA, but little use for much else. So it’s nice to have a replacement. And Phil has a giant rager for Forza.

  2. Taz Hasni

    Congrats Ryan, what an awesome night for you! I regret missing out on that ToJam Arcade now since it’s rare to see a big win for someone who actually deserves it. Chuck modesty aside – you’re allowed to gloat on this one.

  3. Taz Hasni

    Maybe my words above seem mangled, but I’m actually proud that Ryan had the big win he did. Did I seem harsh? Geeze, I hope not…

  4. Taz Hasni

    Ryan – Okay, so I feel doubly stupid now. But anyhow, congrats again – here’s looking towards bigger and better things!

  5. Vinnie

    Congrats on winning! And it always feels good to win stuff in a raffle. And it also feels good touching Hitler’s niple…(wait a second, does his nipple hair have a Hitler ‘stache?!)

  6. Joseph Cassano

    Congratz. I can’t speak for Forza 3 or Halo, but Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed are some fun times. Well, for me, anyhoo. I know quite a few people who actually had some big problems with both games.

  7. Paul Forest

    Congrats, non-me winner! Heads looked great at the Jam! Didn’t have a chance to play it at the Arcade, but people seemed to enjoy it.

    It’s definitely a fantastic use of the theme. We’ve all lost our heads at one time or another. Not to reopen an old debate, but the game is an artistic reflection on life. A certain film critic’s nose is now bleeding a little, and he doesn’t know why.


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