Over the weekend, 33 Stevenson students, alumni, SU siblings, and friends collaborated online to create seven new, playable games as part of Global Game Jam 2021. The games debuted Sunday, January 31 at the virtual game showcase and are available online to play.

The event was hosted by Prof. Meagan Nyland (English), Dr. Jakie Brown (IS), and Dr. Ben Wilson (Math). It serves as a learning experience and kick-off event for ENG 225 Writing Videogames and Interactive Stories, in which students learn to write a range of interactive forms and collaboratively prepare professional proposals for major video games.

Each year, Global Game Jam unveils a theme that unites the jammers’ games. This year, the theme was “Lost and Found.” The seven teams interpreted the theme creatively and developed platformer, mechanic, point-and-click, and story-based games with original art, audio, and a lot of problem-solving.

Here are some of their games and features:

The weekend’s most exciting mechanic was the game “Voice Void,” which is completely voice-controlled. The student creators learned important lessons about voice control and how individual accents can affect game success.

“An Awakening” is an elegant story-based platformer that can easily be played online. It eschews fancy graphics in favor of thoughtful level-building and a strong link between story and game mechanics. The levels are not easy, but achievable, and the whole game can be played in under ten minutes. It chronicles a life spent chasing after the things one is told to achieve, such as high grades, promotions, love, and money, while feeling lost.

Math Professor Ben Wilson made a fun Stevenson-based game, “Mustang Quest,” around the idea of a missing football, which incorporates recorded audio from the SU Marching Band.

Finally, “Sandwich City” showcases an impressive combination of student skills. It offers a detailed noir story and narration paired with nearly entirely original art and student voice-acting in a simple point-and-click game. It shows what can be accomplished when a team combines students with different skill sets. Most of the game’s assets are completely student made.

The weekend’s productions also included “Haunted Shipwreck: Titanic Edition,” in which players search for lost items in the shipwreck while evading a ghost, “Into the Labyrinth,” in which players journey through a labyrinth to save their friends from the dastardly villain Lich, and “Lost in the Dark,” in which players find clues that help them evade a mysterious stranger who steals identities.

Participants experimented with a huge range of programs to create their games, including Unity, Construct 3, Bitsy, and Core Engine. While all jammers came with individual skills to contribute, most jammers were learning game design for the first time and trying new things throughout the weekend.

After the Sunday Showcase, participants hung out in the GGJ Virtual Topia Lounge, where they played the GGJ-created games and discussed the game creations in a virtually-built arcade.

As in past years, the SU jammers have been invited to share their experiences and games at a private online event hosted by Games Industry Gathering, which promises to be an excellent networking opportunity.

SU’s Game Jam site was one of 585 virtual sites across 104 countries in 2021, amounting to a total of over 28,000 global jammers. We look forward to the 2022 Global Game Jam.