Welcome back everybody for Spring Semester 2019! This semester was kicked off with an amazing event called Global Game Jam. But what is Global Game Jam and why should you care?
Global Game Jam (GGJ) is an international game creation event. In just 48 hours Global Game Jam, Inc., the international non-profit that manages the event, announces a theme and thousands of individuals and groups across the world create new and exciting video, web, and board games that reflect their interpretation of said prompt. GGJ was created in 2008 by Susan Gold in collaboration with Gorm Lai, Ian Schreiber and Foaad Khosmood. Global Game Jam, Inc. has sponsored the event from 2013, taking over from the International Game Developer’s Association that had managed it from 2009-2012. The first GGJ in 2009 had over 1600 participants from twenty-three countries. 307 games were produced in two days and it has grown in size every year.
Three years ago English Professor Meagan Nyland brought GGJ to Stevenson University. This year’s events began on Friday the 25th with sign up and dinner at 6:30. After eating the participants watched the introduction and Keynote videos from Global Game Jam, Inc. where they announced the theme of this year’s games. The theme was “What does home mean to you?” After the theme announcement we all brainstormed ideas for game concepts and what home was in our own minds. About one and a half hours later we decided to break into three teams to work on different game concepts. Alumni Hannah Humphries, student Jennifer Steward, and I all took a different approach to the topic of “Home.” To finish off the evening Professor Nyland and Computer Information Systems Professor Jakie Brown took us all to the computer lab and introduced us to some of the software tools we would have access to for building our games.
Saturday was the primary production day. The setting was very relaxed and participants were able to come in at times that best suited their schedules between 10am-8pm. After planning out our games and story lines we each began to work with our chosen medium. Hannah worked with Unity, a cross-platform game engine, Jennifer used Twine, a story based game engine, and I used Scratch, a game tool used to teach students coding theory. Script writing, game production, instruction writing and project board creation was all done by each participant with guidance from Nyland and Brown.
Sunday was the day for fine tuning and submission. Everyone came in and began organizing their materials for submission. Professor Brown sat down with each game and help the creator to work out the kinks in game play as well as help us understand the purpose of each coded element. Errors were fixed and photos were taken of finish products. All materials were submitted to the GGJ website by 4:30pm and we began planning our presentations. Refreshments were offered to presenters and guests. Each group presented their game to the other creators, Professor Nyland, Professor Brown, and Dr. Laura Smith (English Department Chairman). Hannah’s game, Disconnected,features a young woman who must navigate maze and, like a groundhog day effect, repeat the level over and over again until she learns enough skills to make it to the end and return home. Jennifer’s game, Built For Love, is a story game where the player is a scientist whose partner has died. The story follows the player’s adventure of getting to know their partner all over again and rebuilding their “home” together. My game, Audio City, is a quiz game as you guess what sounds you are hearing as you help your blind coworker Alex get home. Post presentation we all celebrated by playing each other’s games.
Even if you nothing about videogames or coding I highly recommend participating in this event. Not only do you learn some basics about coding but it is an excellent creative outlet. It feels amazing to produce something and then watch as other enjoy your creation. So next January keep an ear out for this event and come join us! I know I will be returning.
To learn more about Global Game Jam go to https://globalgamejam.orgor find them on social media at @globalgamejam.