Gamebridge – the weekly classes in Unity at Noisebridge Hackerspace
By David Cox
It’s a rainy night in the Mission people move back and forth along Mission Street. There is the smell of burritos, tobacco, perfume and the effervescent sense that something is happening. There is rain there is marijuana wafting up and down the street. There are cafes and nighclubs. There are taxis and cop cars crawling up and down the street. There is Gamebridge.
It began three or four years ago at Noisebridge Hackerspace between 18th and 17th streets in the Mission District to enable those without the means to build and construct electronic inventions the means to access resources, to converge and share tools. It’s been a hub of activity for anyone interested in putting together ideas build something make a robot, 3D print an object, use fabrics, recycle computers, design games or simply use a soldering iron when they don’t have this equipment at home. If a hackerspace game club (an adhocracy by its very nature) could be said to have an organizer, it is definitely the sharply intelligent and quickly spoken programmer Canadian Alex Peake who has a background as a Game Developer. Peake peppers his descriptions of processes with vivid metaphors and always has a great visual concept to illustrate his ideas. He has an amazing passion for games, for programming and for teaching and is one of the best in the business. Brennan Hatton and Bud Leiser also contribute with equally passionate delivery detailed lessons that keep the Gamebridge regulars glued to the screen and their own laptops in equal measure for hours at a time.
Someone has ordered Pizza. It arrives steaming filling the space with the scent of tomato paste and warm melting cheese and garlic. There is cold Diet Coke and then the paper cups and and napkins a broken out and discussions happen. It’s a great scene and everyone has something to offer.
One of the crowning triumps of Gamebridge recently is a collaboratively developed augmented reality project called SimBridge in which the entire Noisebridge space itself has been replicated in virtual 3D space so that it’s possible to move through it online while wearing a headset. While you are in the building, you can hold up a portable device like an iPhone or tablet and to see the same space superimposed over the real space but this 3D game-like metadate annotates the real space and tells you what sections of the real one are, and what they are for. It also enables people to share a virtual representation of Northbridge at a distance these and other experiments of pushing Noisebridge forward as a key activity at a time when virtual reality and augmented reality are starting to really push the boundaries of what’s possible with the new technology.
Nobody really expects to make money out of this. The whole thing is really grassroots. This is the spirit of the original ‘homebrew computer clubs’ of the 1970s and it’s about experimentation and ideas for their own sake. To that extent it’s a utopian testing ground and it is made up largely of young people with laptops and passion.
It’s a great thing. It’s Gamebridge