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Game jam winners named

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Following a gruelling 48 hours of game-making, the results of the annual Global Game Jam session, which took place at Vega campuses in Jo’burg and Cape Town from 26-28 January 2018, are finally out.

Vega, a brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE), congratulates team RGB, made up of Tristan Thompson, Callum Taylor, Tiffany-Jade Hoon and Christie Edwards, whose multi-player top-down shooter game won Best Game Art at this year’s event.

Best Game Sound was awarded to team The HIVE, made up of Ross Adams, Zander Fick, Dewald Du-Toit, Tigran Ohannessian, Aidan Stokes, Joshua Krynauw, Keegan Bagnall and Darron Hardman for their top-down swarm builder game.

Transcoma, a multi-perspective puzzle game developed by Pierre Du Plessis, Verdanth Panchoo, Matthew Brett, Nicholas Brown, Benit Kadima, Wesley Proxenos, and Jialuo Chen, was chosen as this year’s Most Fun Game.

The Vega Game Jam forms part of the local leg of Global Game Jam® (GGJ), the world’s largest event of its kind, which takes place at various locations around the world. Considered a ‘hackathon focused on game development’, the event sees some of the most talented young minds come together to share their creativity and create unique video game experiences – all in no more than two days. The students each contribute a different set of skills and talents to the group from what they’ve learned in their respective courses and qualifications, including animation design and web development.

“It always gives us such great pleasure to watch how the students come into their own during the Game Jam sessions, and the way in which they work together to make magic happen,” says Robert Chrich, Academic Navigator at Vega.

“Participants are responsible for conceptualising, executing and presenting an entire game from scratch. While they do have the support of Vega navigators, the students are in the driving seat making use of their own intelligence, ingenuity and talent throughout the competition,” he continues. “Game jamming gives students first-hand insight into the game-making industry, which is incredibly vital for those trying to enter the job market.”

The Vega Game Jam provides a valuable platform for students to meet and network with other would-be game-makers as well as professional game developers in the industry, offering students the unique opportunity to learn and work alongside experienced developers. Participation in the Vega Game Jam also allows students to beef up their portfolios, which is particularly rewarding for students hoping to find jobs in the game-making industry.

To help the students find their feet, Vega also hosted a series of workshops to provide gaming ‘newbies’ with valuable insight into some of the mechanics of the development process, including helpful how-to tips on creating the various complex components that make up a game.

“This year marks the first time that workshops of this nature, specifically geared at participants who have no gaming experience, have been held in South Africa,” says Chrich. “What makes the GGJ event inclusive and interesting is that the students aren’t limited to creating digital games but can also develop their own board games and card games too, which means that anyone with an interest in gaming of any type can participate, as long as they’re over 18.”

For more information on the Vega Game Jam, photographs from the event and details on each of the games that were developed, go to Vega’s Facebook and Instagram pages. For those interested in making a career out of game-making, check out the IIE Bachelor of Computer and Information Science in Game Design and Development degree available to study at Vega, listed under Courses.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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