48-Hour Global Game Jam

Gosh the global game jam was fantastic this year! Not only did we have over 100 jam sites, but the jam spread over to 35+ countries from 25 last year. I had the honour of chairing the UBC location in Vancouver this year. With my fantastic team of volunteers, as well as the helpful UBC volunteers, we put on a great site for our participants.

So hold on here – if you haven’t heard of it, the global game jam is an annual event that was started last year by Susan Gold of the International Game Developer’s Association. The idea is to get a bunch of developers in the same area face-to-face and create games in a short, intense game development session: 48 hours to be precise. To make it even better, they are connected via live webcam to other groups of game jammers around the world who are all doing the same thing. With the assistance of industry mentors and some volunteers reminding them to eat and sleep they all work on games based on a theme and some constraints. The theme is the same worldwide, while the constraints varying from timezone to timezone and, sometimes even, location to location.

For example, this year’s theme was: Deception. And the constraints for our time zone was to include at least one of the following: Punk, Monk, or Skunk. Meanwhile another timezone had something like: Snake, Cake, or lake to be included.

We had some great ideas put forward. My favourite from our location was called “Sleuth“. In Sleuth you were either the punk or the detective. The punk tries to disguise himself as a monk and blend in with the other monks while the detective tries to find the punk before time runs out by lifting off the hoods of all the monks.

This was not a competition (no matter how much all of us North Americans seem to try to make it so) but we still sent everyone home with some industry swag from Big Fish games, Radical Entertainment, UBC, BCIT, and other local sponsors of our location.

One of the big reasons I liked this jam site was because it felt like MY jam site. Why? I love board games and it ain’t a Steven-hosted event without some board games involved. During some of the down times for volunteers when they really just needed to keep an eye on things so they don’t get stolen, we pulled out some board games and got some game playing happening as well. It was awesome! We even kept a few of the live feed watchers watching one game of Catan by zooming in the camera close for a while.

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