It’s Jammer Time

Global Game Jam Comes to Concordia

  • The Global Game Jam will take place worldwide this coming weekend.

It’s a new year, and what better way to kick off 2014 than with a game jam of worldwide magnitude?

This Friday, Jan. 24 at 5:30 p.m., game designers will come together to create games in just 48 hours; a feat of strength to some, and just another weekend for others.

The Global Game Jam is the largest of its kind in the world, spanning cities in 61 countries, including Montreal.

Concordia University and École de technologie supérieure (ETS) are among several locations in the city preparing for this coming weekend’s madness.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, a game jam is a gathering of writers, artists, programmers, and musicians, who can collaborate or fly solo in the creation of a game within a fixed period of time.

Typically, there is a theme which participants must attempt to embrace. In September 2013, the Boob Jam took a critical look at the use of breasts in games and attempted to redefine them. October’s GAMERella aimed to promote more women within the games industry.

Participants can create just about any type of game they like, whether it is a video game, board game, or card game, so long as it meets the criteria of the jam.

According to TAG’s game jam coordinator, Charlotte Fisher, Concordia has been booked full, nearly doubling last year’s turnout.

“There’s a huge boom of interest this year,” she said, “Last year there were 40 people signed up; this year it’s 60 with 14 on the waiting list. [There’s been] an increase in interest [and] we’re going to try to work toward expansion for next year.”

Similarly, ETS has also seen a successful turnout, with a staggering 150 people registered and counting. For those interested in game development, it’s the event of the season.

“The word is finally spreading and it’s a good thing for developers to stretch their muscles. And it’s great for new people; they’re getting more confident and interested,” Fisher added.

For most jams, the theme is available beforehand, allowing participants to think ahead before they hit the grindstone.

The Global Game Jam is different. At 5:30 p.m., across all time zones, the theme will be released, with Hawaii being the last to find out.

From there, participants will have 48 hours, stretching from Friday to Sunday to create a game, with the event officially ending at 3 p.m.

The secret theme poses a unique challenge for participants, as it not only forces teamwork, but tests ingenuity under the pressure of a deadline.

According to Samuel Simard, president of Conjure, ETS’s scientific student club, it is their largest event of the year. They’ve been preparing since November of last year.

“You want to jump in and challenge yourself,” he said. “Doing a game jam opens you up beyond the educational environment. [It] allows you meet people from all over, [from] hobbyists to professionals and make contacts.”

Conjure started back in 2009 and has since grown from 20 members to 80.

Their interests range from programming to people interested in hardware development. They’ve forged partnerships within the AAA industry and gained sponsorship from ETS, Warner Bros., and Electronic Arts to name a few.

Their club is open to anyone interested in game development and they actively promote creativity. For more information, you can check out their Facebook page.

For those unable to participate in the Global Game Jam, the QUILTBAG Jam, hosted by the Pixelles, a Montreal organization which promotes diversity in game-making, will take place on February 8.

The QUILTBAG jam will encourage the creation of games featuring queer identities and experiences. Details on the jam can be found on Pixelle’s website.

Pixelles will also be providing a game workshop on February 1, encouraging everyone interested in game development (whether they know anything about making games or not) to come join in on the fun.

Just like any other game jam, participants are reminded to bring equipment with them.

For those working on the Global Game Jam at the Sir George Williams campus this Friday, space will be provided, along with internet access, and of course, food and drink.

The event will be located on the 6th floor of the EV building, in room 6720. For more information about getting your game on, check out the details on TAG’s website or the Global Game Jam’s website.

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