If you believe the stereotypes propagated by films like The Social Network, you likely assume all computer programmers are fast-talking, socially aloof, Mark Zuckerberg-esque geniuses in hoodies and sports sandals.
The participants of last weekend’s 48-hour mobile-device game-design contest, known as The Great Canadian Appathon, didn’t do much to dispel those assumptions. This was the second incarnation of the bi-annual competition, which involves teams of students competing across Canada for $45,000 in prizes.
The campus meeting room that served as the University of Toronto hub was a picture of organized chaos by hour 47 on Sunday afternoon, littered with half-empty cans of NOS energy drink, Pizza Nova boxes and about 20 frantically programming students, all but one male, mostly in their early 20s.
“This is Star Pucks,” said Enrico Sacchetti, holding up his phone. He’s a fourth-year game-development student at the Ontario Institute of Technology, and one of three members of the Bison Flippers (the name’s an inside joke).
Sacchetti earnestly demonstrated his team’s two-day creation—an impressive hockey shooter game—as his two teammates worked on their latest “build” and mocked his enthusiasm. “Rico can’t wait to beat the AI,” snickered Fabio Sacchetti, Enrico’s cousin. They made a code-related joke before nearly falling off their chairs with laughter.
But Enrico was unfazed. “I think our chances of winning are good,” he said, smiling at his teammates as they wrestled on the carpeted floor nearby. “It’s been a great opportunity to put what we’ve learned into practice, and to work together as a team.”