Global Game Jam (GGJ) kicked off its fourth year at Louisiana State University Jan. 20 through Jan. 22.
More than 100 individuals gathered at the Digital Media Center to participate in the worldwide event.
The 48-hour event was hosted by the College of Engineering, Digital Media Arts and Engineering program (DMAE) and Center for Computation and Technology. They welcomed amateurs through professionals to learn various skills that would help participants create a video game using Unity software.
Each year a different theme is unveiled.
Randy Dannenberg, assistant director of economic development, said GGJ announces their theme based on time zones.
“You’re not supposed to share it with the other times zones,” Dannenberg said. “[That way] everyone has an equal shot at the theme.”
The 2017 theme was “waves.”
Alex Camilleri, a Danish member of the theme selection panel, said she felt that the universality of waves was an important factor, according to GGJ’s website.
“Our intention was to find a theme that could be universally understood and interpreted in very different ways,” Camilleri said. “We wanted newcomers to be able to look at the theme from a gameplay or narrative perspective, as well as allowing experienced jammers to dive deeper into the theme and explore it from a more personal or experimental way.”
The participants broke into groups to create a video game based on the “waves” theme.
Cody Louviere, and his group had waves of enemies in their video game. They traveled in the same wavelengths as their associated RGB colors.
“The characters also shot wave projectiles and the enemies bounced off the edges of the screen, like sound waves,” Louviere explained.
Ken Wesley, instructor in the DMAE program, said participants learn many life skills while working in groups.
“You have to work with other people,” Wesley said. “These teams that make video games are huge. You have to learn how to be part of a big team.”
Wesley, who has done visual effects for many films such as, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, and multiple Star Wars films, believes this experience will help people decide if they want to do this for a living.
University alumnus Craig Jones has attended a game jam in the past and said this is the best way for participants to meet people in the industry.
“There is a big community here in Baton Rouge that is doing it [game developing],” Jones said.
Among the participants was 14-year-old Kevin Hall II, who dreams of becoming a game developer. Because he is a minor his mother, Pamela, accompanied him.
“I needed to find stuff to expose him to and make sure this is what he wants,” Pamela Hall said.
Hall II attends Louisiana Virtual Academy and has recently started a computer game design class. His mother said attending GGJ will familiarize him with the basic concepts.
Shaikha Almashaykhi has attended three game jams in the past to better her interest in art; however, the senior computer science major found another reason for joining the global event.
“The main reason I am participating is to have fun, meet new people and improve my social skills by meeting new people,” Almashaykhi said.
With the help of LSU faculty and staff, participants were able to become more knowledgeable about the gaming process. GGJ provided each individual an opportunity to develop a skillset to take with them on the next part of their developing journey – and fans don’t have to wait to check out the games created by the game jam participants. All 14 games created at LSU during the event can be seen on the GGJ website.
To view photos taken at the GGJ at LSU, visit the DMAE at LSU Facebook page.