Qu’est-ce que c’est un #GameJam?

Ideas, computers, friends, pizza and 48 hours to jam into one game #Game Design

I was introduced to the concept of Game Jams about a week before Ray’s second Game Jam, which took place in Tampere last weekend. A weekend dedicated to game design. The main idea was simple: 48 hours, from Friday to Sunday evening, to think of, plan, develop and publish a finished game. Sounds crazy, right?

15183940_10208012245481008_502912214_oWell, it might be, but still, it worked. And pretty well, actually. The event started off on Friday evening as game enthusiasts assembled in the top floor of Kampusareena, where they would spend most of their weekend pushing the limits of their creativity – and most likely abusing caffeine, all for a good cause. The theme was shortly announced: Merge. This was followed by brainstorming, both in groups and individually, and soon a bunch of great ideas emerged, around which groups were formed: From one to seven people, each team was ready to face the challenge of turning that idea into a concrete reality. Not that we were left unaided before the huge task: Unlimited supplies of coffee, tea, drinks and then pizza and snacks got us through the following days.

The following weekend was not a lazy one: Coders, musicians and graphic artists put their skills and endurance to the test. For our team, consisting of five members, the goal was a pacman-like game, mechanics wise, but since there were no limitations regarding the platform and gameplay the results varied largely from one team to another. At the end, there was a game to fit every preference: from Android games to Virtual Reality 3D adventures. Of course, not everything was perfect – glitches happen to everyone. In our game, for example, one player, the “strictest dad” was trying to beat his rebellious daughter by getting to “beat up” as many guys as possible before her managing to “merge” with them. Sometimes, the game ended up being both parties wandering aimlessly while the guys became immune to both the brutality of the father and the flirting of the daughter. Despite this, the final results were no short of amazing, for all of the teams.


An inevitably messy workspace

As an aspiring graphic artist and a stranger to the world of game development, the Game Jam was a perfect initiation ritual. Developing a game may not be easy, but it is not as hard as one would imagine, either: coordination and teamwork matter. I was surprised at how smoothly things went, especially considering the fact that I had no previous experience whatsoever. Game Jams are usually open to anyone, and this is a great thing for anyone wanting to test themselves at game development. There is room for anyone – especially if you know something about coding or graphic arts, do not hesitate to register!  You might want to have some experience before the Global Game Jam, which starts on January 20, 2017. Be warned, though: Game Jams are usually addictive – and this is a conclusion based on personal experience.