Global Game Jam (Does what it says on the tin)

Some gaming news for a change; we probably don’t do this sort of thing often enough on this blog … On Friday 23rd of January, students and staff across the world will be taking part in the two-day Global Game Jam (GGJ) event.  GGJ’s goal is for tens of thousands of would-be developers to come together in a shared attempt to make thousands of computer games from start to finish within a strict 48-hour period.  The event is designed to bring people together from all backgrounds and encourage creative thinking – resulting in the development of a variety of small but innovative and experimental games.

As a local illustration, once again, Glyndwr University is representing Wales in the 2015 GGJ and, by participating, its students and staff are hoping to help set another world record for the world’s largest ‘Jam’.

GGJ gets bigger and better every year.  Last year’s event holds the current record with over 23,000 game jammers working simultaneously from 488 different locations spread across 72 countries.  The outcome of that weekend was a staggering 800,000+ hours of development time, resulting in 4,290 different games created globally.  At Glyndwr, for example, a team of 29 dedicated (and slightly crazy) jammers managed to design and develop 11 unique games within the 48-hour period.  This year the organisers are hoping to make the Jam even bigger with a target of at least 24,000 participants globally.

They need your help though.  If you would like to come along and participate in the event, you can register at the official GGJ website.  For example, you can register at the Glyndwr Game Jam 2015 site here: http://globalgamejam.org/2015/jam-sites/glyndwr-university-global-game-jam

There is a registration fee of £10 for the Glyndwr event, which will be payable using their online system (tickets can be purchased using the link provided at the above site).  The fee will be used to help towards the cost of snacks/drinks, prizes and consumables.

Glyndwr Event Schedule:

Venue: Glyndwr University Centre for Creative Industries (CCI) Room 108 A+B (The PC suite on the first floor).

Friday, 24th of January:
4pm – 5pm: Registration Completion & Initial Meet/Greet
5pm – 5.30pm: Official Opening & Mystery Theme Reveal
5.30 – 6.00pm: Keynote Speech: Ralph Ferneyhough / Chris Payne
6.00pm: Ice Breaker & Brain-Storming

Ralph Ferneyhough and Chris Payne will be delivering Friday’s keynote speech.  Ralph and Chris boast several decades of experience in the games industry as AAA developers, having worked as lead technology and mechanics programmers on the world famous Lego games franchise at TT Games.  They will be sharing their thoughts on dealing with the crunch and the building blocks of successful games design.

After that, participates will be working uninterrupted for the following two days with a view to finishing at 5pm on Sunday, 25th of January.

And finally …  Just in case you find the thought of developing a game in 48 hours intimidating, it might be worth considering the following common questions:

Q: Do I need to be an experienced games designer, artist or programmer?
A: Not at all.  The Global Game Jam is designed to accommodate people from all backgrounds and skill levels. Absolutely no previous experience is necessary.

Q: Will I be working as part of a team?
A: It’s completely up to you.  You are free to be a ‘lone wolf’ and work on something by yourself, or join together with other people and work on a game project as a small team.

Q: What kind of game project would I work on?
A: All of the games produced must revolve around a particular theme that is kept secret until the start of the event.  From there, you are free to interpret the theme in any way you like.  You don’t even have to create a digital product.  Traditional board games and card based designs are perfectly acceptable and more common than you might think.

Q: Which development tools should I use?  Can I bring my own laptop/dev tools with me?
A: You are free to use any development tools that you want, provided that you have a license to do so.  Many people choose to bring their own laptops with them, but we will be working in one of our PC labs where a variety of tools will be available such as Autodesk Maya, 3D Studio Max, Multimedia Fusion, Flash, XCode, Android, MS Visual Studio and many others.

Q: Do I have to stay around for the entire 48 hours?
A: Whilst you are not obligated to stay for the entire period, you are encouraged to try and attend as much as possible throughout the event.  We recognise that some participants may have family or work commitments, so for that reason you are able to come and go as you please.  However, please bear in mind that designing and implementing a product in such a short space of time is tricky, so it’s good idea to inform your fellow game jammers of your availability at the earliest opportunity.  This will help your team to schedule work more effectively.

For more information, you can also find the Glyndwr team here:

Facebook: @Glyndwr Game Jammers
Twitter: @GlyndwrGameJam

Please contact the event coordinator Rich Hebblewhite (r.hebblewhite@glyndwr.ac.uk) if you have any questions.

Happy jamming!

About Vic Grout

Professor of Computing Futures at Wrexham Glyndwr University, Wales, UK. View all posts by Vic Grout

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