Inside the Global Game Jam

The Global Game Jam is the largest game jam event in the world with 42,800 jammers who made 8,606 games on 803 sites in 108 countries. They started 10 years ago and they’ve been helping developer teams come together ever since.

The concept behind a game jam is pretty cool, a bunch of aspiring developers come together and start designing games with the same theme announced at the beginning of the event… You might not end up with the next big indie game but you’ll have a completed project, great feedback on your ideas, and hopefully a new development team.

Learn more about game jams

This year’s theme was Transmission… Participants were shown a video with radio towers, synapses, cars, gears, and different types of communications, giving a little context to spark ideas among the developers.
There is a lot of information out there about the GGJ, their FAQ is quite comprehensive. However, I had the opportunity to chat with one of the attendees for the GGJ 2018, so we can explore the actual experience inside the event.
Q: How did you find out about the game jam?
A: I don’t really remember how I first found out about it a year or two ago, probably on Reddit, but I signed up for an account on their site and kept my eye on it.
Q: So you’ve known about it for a while, what made you decide to join this year?
A: I’ve always wanted to go since I found out about it, last year I had an exam like a day or two after it so I couldn’t. This year I had free time and I figured I want to go see if there’s anyone else interested in game dev, maybe I could make some friends. Besides I’ve been in hackathons before and they’re really fun and motivating, the time limit and the rush feel good.
Q: How long have you been developing games?
A: I’ve been messing around with Unity and Blender for years. I remember trying to learn Unity 4 something, but always making prototypes and not finishing projects.
If I had stuck to something maybe I’d have a few published games by now, it’s been a long time since I started.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about the general experience of the game jam?
A: The first day we watch the keynote video, we had 2 mentors who were invited from the Netherlands I think, and they gave a short talk. Then we were told to mingle and brainstorm and form groups, luckily I was approached by some guys whom I had asked before what ideas they had so far.
We started working the next day, we had trouble agreeing on an idea, in the end, we split up and formed another group on a new project. It was fun, I had never worked with others before, we had dedicated artists so I didn’t have to worry about that, I only made a few quick and dirty placeholders. So we kept working for the rest of the event, we had a working but buggy game in the end.
3 days might seem too little for a working mini game, but it’s more than enough to have a great time, meet like-minded people and finally share your game development work to other people going through the same as you.
From the outside, the gaming world might seem like an unattainable fantasy, projects like The Global Game Jam are evidence that becoming a developer is not only easier than it might seem, you also have the support of a great community that shares your passion.
If you’re wondering if there is a location for the GGJ near to you, just follow the link.

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