Global Game Jam

| May 18, 2010

This past weekend I took part in an event known as the ‘Global Game Jam’. As promised it provided an innovative intense design challenge experience, which lead to the creation of video games!

The competition started on Friday evening when the ‘team’ building activity event began by allowing programmers, designers, artists and gamers alike to come together and create a team. A keynote address (view below) was given, along with the game constraints for the weekend and the competition was underway. A 48 hour quest to design and create a fun playable game. The teams varied in size from 2-8 or so, each with different members providing assets toward creating the game. My team consisted of two designers, an artist, and two programmers. We thought we were all set and after having watched Kyle Gablers section of the key note in which he shared 7 tips for designing games under such time constraints, we were inspired and anxious to start.

It was my first game jam, well even game design challenge I’ve ever entered aside from classes here at TC. It was an experience that was incredibly valuable to work with a new group of people and some how try to fuse everyone’s ideas and game play preferences into one game, and then attempt to make it such a short time. Our group dynamic was functioning well and everyone was working hard on the tasks we set out to hit the mark of completion on Sunday. However we were thrown a curve ball on Saturday as our lead programmer fell ill and was unable to complete technical aspects that were needed. And thus as the final hours of the competition quickly dissipated there was never a dull moment. The combination of technical chaos and serious redesign of the features we were going to be able to include to ensure one level of our game was in a playable state was intense.

It was hectic right till the end but now it is interesting to look back at the experience and realize the progress that had been made, the ups and downs and sheer exhaustion that made the experience so unique. Despite our final product not being exactly what we had hoped or expected our team decided to continue creating it. As in the keynote many great games such as Physics Crayons Deluxe, Spore, and World of Goo resulted from small prototypes. So all is NOT lost!
As was suggested in the keynote– “Don’t be afraid to fail spectacularly”- Kyle Gabler. Our group may not have been wildly successful in the short challenge but in the long run it could turn into something great!

Participating in such an open ended challenge was genuinely exciting due to the random and spontaneous nature of the experience and one that I would be happy to take part in again. It was a great learning experience and I met some fabulous people.

Check out the Game Jam site for descriptions of all the games that were created as well as a listing of the venues where the jams were hosted. The same challenge took place in 53 other cities around the world and over 300 games were created from the event. The event that was held on TC’s campus boasted as having the largest participant site in the United States. AfterEd was able to capture some footage over the weekend of the experience and so you can also look forward to seeing some video of exhausted yet excited game developers.

The winners were awarded a funded trip to the GDC (Game Developers Conference) in San Francisco in March. There is a GDC session at the conference that will feature the experience of the game jam.