Technoculture, Art and Games (TAG) is an interdisciplinary centre for research/ creation in game studies and design, digital culture and interactive art


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Posted by Gina

It’s the end of the term again and around this time I still get a weird jitter in my bones. Not because the summer is coming or because it’s exam period, but because during the first 3 years of my time at TAG the warm weather meant it was time to prepare for Critical Hit.

TAG has been around for awhile. We’ve been a research center long enough that what were once new faces coming into the space have had the time to become old friends. With each year new people come and some of our veterans finish off their work and set out into the big, scary world outside. We’ve changed rooms and directors multiple times and we still have a bunch of boxed (!!!) PC games as a testament to our longevity. In fact, we’ve been around long enough that some of you might not even know what Critical Hit is.

Most may know this, but for some of the new faces whose only context for the words critical and hit together are the posters that are hung on TAG’s walls, Critical Hit was a summer game program that ran for 3 years. It started out as an incubator for a few emerging game developer teams, then quickly turned into a fast iteration, jam inspired game factory. In total 48 people participated in the program, creating over 30 games. Of course some of them didn’t work, but most of them did and every single one of them meant the world to us while we worked on them each week.

Critical Hit was also my very first assignment at TAG, which only further reminds me of how long TAG has been around as an institution. But believe it or not, TAG has been around for longer than I have. This time of year makes me wonder about that mysterious era. I scroll back on our Flickr feed and try to figure out who all those strange people are in the spaces I know so well. It can be fun to look at old files on an old hard-drive labeled “TAG admin” in a handwriting that isn’t mine.

And while doing that today, I had quite the surprise. Today I found something new.

I had never known, but someone once set up a Critical Hit instagram account. Needless to say there are some truly precious photos on it. The very first one was taken exactly 207 weeks aka 4 years ago.

So… Happy birthday Critical Hit!

Info meeting at the TAG lab.

A post shared by Critical Hit (@criticalhitmtl) on

I’ve been looking through these, squinting at the screen to see who I can recognize like how I’ve leaned over old yellow photos as a child, trying to figure out which one is my young grandma, or who that guy next to my uncle is.

207 weeks is a funny way to think about how much time has passed since then. Put that way, it gives me a weird nostalgia that somehow feels incomplete. Maybe that’s why I often wish I knew when exactly TAG was founded. If you ask Lynn or Bart, they will tell you different founding dates. Even our year-end-reports mark the ‘birthday’ of TAG slightly differently. Up to today, my virtual archeological quests have never yielded a document that would confirm TAG’s first day as TAG. After finding the old Critical Hit Instagram, though, I did some more digging and found the even older TAG Instagram. A breakthrough! One photo. Three familiar faces. No likes… 🙁

We’re playing some board games at the TAG 5a7 and talking games. Come on down!

A post shared by TAG Lab (@tag_news) on Feb 7, 2013 at 2:41pm PST

This one is from 218 weeks ago. Yet another milestone that feels like it’d be more nostalgic if I were a robot or a Vulcan. Still, the find reminded me of something else that I stumbled on recently, a precious fragment of the past caked in the dust that made it feel all the more like an artifact. One of those old hard drives from TAG admins passed had a file on it in a folder called “Momoko Allard” (another blast from the past). And in this folder, among other things, was another folder called “TAG LOGO COMPETITION”, which of course had something familiar in it: the TAG logo we all know so well, looking as fresh as it is today. According to the metadata it was saved exactly 8 years ago, on April 20th, 2009. Created by Momoko Allard, not just to serve as TAG’s vector identity but also as another date to set our birthday watches by.

So whether it’s our since-developed social media skills, our iconic logo, Critical Hit itself, all the jams, projects and papers we have put together in this almost decade long timeframe, it seems we have a lot to celebrate.

I guess all that’s left to say is Happy birthday TAG!!!