Several students spent 48 hours last weekend designing, developing and creating their own games to participate in the Global Game Jam.
Global Game Jam is an international event that challenges participants to design a game within a two-day period. The event takes place once a year, toward the end of January, with contestants starting by watching an introductory video that reveals the theme for that year. The participants then have 48 hours to brainstorm, design, create and submit a game that is based on the theme.
Dr. Brian Burton, an assistant professor of information technology, was the site coordinator for the Abilene area, and oversaw the students who were participating.
“It gives good exposure to game development and shows what you can accomplish in 48 hours,” Burton said.
Burton has been the site director for both of the years that students have participated in the jam. He intends to continue coordinating the event with any ACU students interested in learning and getting experience in game development.
ACU had three teams registered to participate this year. The teams worked on a side-scrolling game, a top-down game similar to Galaga and some mini-game concepts.
Austin Graham, a digital entertainment technology major from Corpus Christi was one of the participants in the jam. Graham based his game on reflection and sought to create an abstract plot that was designed to challenge the players’ mind and even, in one instance, force the player to break the rules to win.
“I liked the concept of reflection,” Graham said. “I also wanted to make a game that was challenging, so I thought of ways to confuse and hinder the player.”
This was Graham’s first time participating in the Global Game Jam and said, though he was recovering from his lack of sleep, that participating in the Global Game Jam was well worth the effort and he plans on doing it again next year. He also hopes to grow the level of student involvement.
“I encourage others to come out next time even if they don’t have programming knowledge,” Graham said, adding that the most time consuming elements were designing the art and creating the story for the game not the programming.
Susan Gold, a game designer who wanted to create a fun event where participants could come together, share ideas and push themselves creatively, founded the Global Game Jam in 2008. The event had participants from 63 countries and had more than 3,000 games created over the weekend. Participants are encouraged to use new technology and push their skills to see what they could create during the time limit.
“It’s a great opportunity to take risks and test out ideas you have always wanted to try,” Burton said.