Just over two weeks ago I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the 2012 Global Game Jam in Rosehill, Sydney. Haven’t heard of it? Trust me, it rocks!
The Global Game Jam (GGJ) is the world’s largest game jam event. Created by the IGDA (International Game Developers Association) it occurs annually in late January, and brings together thousands of game enthusiasts participating in hundreds of local game jams around the world. Attendance at each site might be anywhere from 1-300, though is typically 5-25 people, usually students, though many professional game developers and other interested hobbyists attend as well. (I believe Sydney had about 120!)
The way it works is usually everyone gathers on Friday afternoon, watches a short video keynote with advice from leading game developers, and then a secret theme is announced. All sites worldwide are then challenged to make games based on that same theme, with games to be completed by Sunday afternoon. In January 2011, teams in 44 countries created over 1500 games in one weekend!
Since I am merely a poor impoverished young lass I could not afford the fee to participate in the Jam, but I was able to volunteer which was just as awesome! Volunteers did everything from imaging computers to organizing shower rosters. Here’s some of the other handsome volunteers who worked their butts off with me to help run the event.
If you think the Jammers didn’t get much sleep in that 48 hours, neither did we! Rostered on 6 hour shifts, we pretty much had to stay awake for as long as we could to help people out. Even when we weren’t rostered on, there was always something that needed to be done, and I tell you after you’re awake for so long, any place seems like a comfortable place to crash.
The jammers themselves did an amazing job at creating games within such a short time frame and with such little sleep. Some teams even made 2 or 3 games, which is a difficult task considering it had to relate to the main theme of the project which was the following:
This is Ouroborus, and the image was all they had to work on. Usually Game Jam themes are words or phrases, but because this was a global game jam naturally it was agreed that due to language barriers an image would be the best option. The teams could take inspiration from this image in any way that they liked. They could take the literal meaning and turn it into a game, or if it inspired them onto something completely different that was fine too. Needless to say, there was a wide range of diverse games in Sydney alone.
If you are interested in game development or just games in general, I suggest giving Game Jam a go. I met a guy on the train who was also attending the game jam, who had never done any kind of game development in his life but wanted to give it a go. This is what game jam is all about. It allows people with a passion for games to get together with like-minded people to create something awesome. If it doesn’t work? Who cares! You will have met some awesome people and learnt some great skills.
Check out what Game Jam is about (along with the games made at the GGJ) at www.globalgamejam.org
Another article coming soon on what awesome games were actually created!