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Global Game Jam 2011

Global Game Jam 2011

Rampant Production.

Leena Van Deventer gets stuck in with the sweaty masses producing a whole game within 72 hours.

LAST MONTH, from January 28th to the 30th, was a miraculous weekend for gaming all over the world, where we saw the number of games on this planet increase by a whopping 1500! The most amazing part? They were each made in under 48 hours. As was the challenge put forward by the International Game Developers Association, in the 2011 Global Game Jam. With nothing but their talent, experience, and the theme “Extinction”, the jammers knuckled down after watching a keynote online by Keita Takahashi to their respective jamsites around the world to make magic in a fraction of the time we normally associate with game creation.

There were 44 countries participating this year, with 140 separate jamming locations and over 6500 developersconstructing 1500 games. England had 5 jamsites in operation, two in London, one in Birmingham, one in Luton and another in Stafford. Ireland had two, one in Dublin and another at the Tipperary Institute in Thurles. Scotland had one each in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and Wales represented in Newport. Australia represented with 3 jams in the wide brown land, one in Perth, one in Sydney, and one in my very own home town, Melbourne. I was lucky enough to be asked to be on the judging panel by the Melbourne chapter of the IGDA and adored every minute of it. I came in at differing points on all 3 days to see how the jammers were going, check out their progress, monitor hygiene levels and liberally dispense jelly snakes.

As usual with semi-literate folk such as myself, the thing I happened to like most about the Game Jam is the hardest to put into words. The buzzing, energetic level of excitement in the rooms even in the first hour of development was palpable as people scurried around trying to make teams with the appropriate proportions of artists, programmers, designers and sound artists. Egos were put aside almost as if they were volunteering for some sort of charity event, there was that similar sense of banding together for a good cause – and the good cause was games for the fun of it. No publishers lauding over you trying to dictate creative control, no competing within the ranks to try and score that promotion, everyone was there for the same thing. The love of games in their purest form. The in-jokes about whether a certain baked good was a fabrication, the mindless yelling of the name “Jason” (while miming pressing X) and the constant verbal articulation of familiar video game sounds all bounced around the walls and left me with a warm fuzzy reminder that we’re all connected by our love for play, and in particular our love for video games. There was more camaraderie in those computer labs than you could poke an 8-bit stick at, and that’s what I love the most about this kind of collaboration.

The jammers I spoke to at the end of the Melbourne event said it was energising and inspiring, and they hoped to gohome and either continue polishing their gem from the weekend, or create even more with focus on as short a period of development as possible. Starting out with a narrow scope then broadening it as time permits means we’ll hopefully be seeing more and more games by these extraordinarily talented folk soon. The networking opportunities presented in the talent pool that has been the Global Game Jam will hopefully soon spread out to mean big things for the games industry as a whole. Getting like-minded people together to do like-minded work when they otherwise wouldn’t get together in such circumstances is electrifying for the industry, and on the weekend of the 28th, the industry just got a little bit stronger, wiser, better connected, and more productive. Here’s to seeing what next year’s Game Jam has in store, hopefully it will be bigger and better than ever.

All games are playable at: http://www.globalgamejam.org/games/2011 and the global winners have been announced here: http://gamesauce.org/news/2011/02/02/gamesauce-challenge-announces-global-game-jam-winners/


    Small correction. The winners mentioned did not win the Global Game Jam itself, but a challenge that we sponsored called the ‘Gamesauce Challenge’. The GGJ itself is not about competition, but collaboration.

  • Ah yes, sorry about that. 100% true! They were more outstanding efforts than winners. ;)

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