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2016 Global Game Jam: Local Community Explodes with Co-Ops and Laser Vision

2016 Global Game Jam: Local Community Explodes with Co-Ops and Laser Vision

| by Zoe N. Sugg | Posted in PC, Gaming News, Gaming Blog

Game-makers of all backgrounds gathered on Friday, January 29th for the annual Global Game Jam. This event brings together teams and individuals, with a window of 48 hours and a single theme, in order to make their own project.

The game jam is growing rapidly in terms of popularity; this year, the total count came in at over 600 locations, 30,000 developers, and 5,000 games. In the local scene, Tempe's game jam center was located off Baseline, at the University of Advancing Technology. By the time the deadline rolled around at 3pm on Sunday, 22 games were finished up and ready to present at UAT, a significant hike from ASU's numbers in past years.

UAT also boasted a for-cash contest, with a great panel of judges that included investors, officials from the City of Tempe, and several industry professionals from DeVry university, GoDaddy, and others. This year, the theme was “Ritual,” and the resulting projects were incredibly diverse. Taking home first place was Decoracing, a game with randomly-generated holidays and interior design conditions which players must meet before time runs out. The second-place winners implemented sponsored technology to create Hyper Demon Laser Omega X2: The Awakening. Here, a botched ritual summons the player character, a laser-vision-wielding demon controlled by actual sound and visual inputs.

I myself teamed up with friends and coworkers to create Pestergeist, a memory game where a student ghost must learn the inhabitant's morning routine in order to scare their way through their final exam.

All in all, the Global Game Jam event provides the motivation for a team of people to band together to test their chemistry as a team, and build a low-pressure product. But here in Tempe, it seems like another important component is being explored at UAT; that of community.

Rewinding to the beginning of the jam, UAT's opening ceremonies included several lectures that taught developers how and why to use certain software, as well as a few videos and keynote speakers that encouraged and instructed them through the process.

“When you’re starting out, nobody expects you to be very good at this, and indeed your failures can be some of the best learning experiences you’ll have; so, don’t be afraid to fail,” Marshall Cohill said in a presentation just before the theme was announced. He went on to emphasize that the game development industry cares exclusively about one's portfolio, and that as long as they had fun and represented the community well, game-makers should constantly pump out projects in order to make themselves hireable. Ultimately, this event did the community a service by bringing hopeful developers together to create projects and partnerships that will last a long time.

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