ROCHESTER, NY – February 5, 2009 – As the globe turned and the clock reached 5:00 PM in 14 different time zones, teams of gamers around the world hit their keyboards and began a 48-hour game building marathon. When it was over, they began uploading their games to the game browser on the Global Game Jam website, and now 360 free new games are available to try, download and examine.
“Collaboration is an extraordinary thing, and I am so amazed at what people were able to accomplish in 48 hours,” said Susan Gold, founder of Global Game Jam. “There was an energy in the room and you could feel the charge of excitement in what people were doing all over GGJ. For me, the highlight has been all of the stories about the experience people had with statements like ‘life-changing’ or the ‘best thing I have done in years.’ Once people realized what they are capable of doing when they worked together, they became more creative, more innovative and drove themselves to do things they did not know they could do.”
Gold and the other organizers know that creativity thrives when constrained, and so all of the game teams were given three constraints, two common to all the jams and then a variable set of constraints for each time zone to ensure that no location had an advantage over another. The constraints were that all games had to be shorter than five minutes, and everyone had to use the theme “As long as we have each other, we'll never run out of problems.” Teams were allowed to interpret that any way the cared to, but they had to add the 3rd variable, which was a set of three adjectives that differed from zone to zone.
In Angouleme, France participants had one additional constraint because the event was co-located with a yearly comic book festival. Their guest juror artists suggested that each of the games developed had to evoke the graphic style of comic strips, so all games had to add an aesthetic consideration as well.
“I heard from some of the sites that when the constraints were introduced there was total silence in the room. But it was the silence of the “people thinking hard” because in 15 minutes they had to pitch a game,” said Ian Schreiber, one of the three organizers of the Jam.
While all the teams exemplified passion and dedication that pushed them to extremes, Jammers at a few sites had to overcome a little more than others. More than half of Ottawa’s original 22 registrants braved severe rainstorms and a bus strike to get to the site. Pittsburgh worked under the sonic assault of five fire alarms due to a mechanical error in the systems and Charlotte, North Carolina had a radioactive fire break out in the Biology Department building where the event was housed.
“Jammers were evacuated into the freezing cold where they proceeded to make their design pitches. By the time the last pitch was made, they were relocated to a new building. So they survived the threat of death by fire, cold and radiation,” continued Schreiber.
If you missed your chance to be a part of the Global Game Jam, the team is already brainstorming next year’s GGJ. Look for announcements about GGJ 2010 soon.
About Global Game Jam
Global Game Jam (GGJ) is the brainchild of Susan Gold, director of Game Program Review and chair of the Education Special Interest Group of the International Game Developers Association. GGJ brings together talented individuals and teams from around the globe and rallies them around a central theme, for which they have 48 hours to create their game. With 1,650 participants at 54 locations in 23 countries, GGJ is a showcase of the creativity and talent of the international game development community. GGJ is sponsored by leading companies including Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., Mekensleep Studios, and Unity Technologies. For more information on the Global Game Jam, including a database of downloadable games, photos and video from the event and more, visit at http://globalgamejam.org