Global Game Jam 2015

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By Matthew Maravilla

As you may have seen on the front page of NJIT’s website, it’s that time of the year again, when a bunch of game developers huddle in Weston Hall to spend 48 hours making games!

Students who participated could afterwards boast about how little sleep they got on the cold design lab floors. There were people were falling off of chairs and busting their rears. Additionally, the vast amounts of pizza available ruined pizza for everyone, forever.

Even GITC was not spared as most of the programmers all decided to make a crazy FMV fighting game, leaving a lot of the more artsy groups struggling due to the few remaining programmers, which was fine in its own right. However, for all of the crazy antics that normally happens when a bunch of sleep-deprived 20-somethings are told to make games, this wasn’t like last year’s jam.

This year, the Global Game Jam had a more far out theme, “What do we do now?” There were definitely groups that felt like asking themselves “what do we do?” It definitely wasn’t as easy to come up with crazy ideas like last time, which had a theme that focused on personal perception.

Last year, groups focused more on creating visual games, like Insight and Pier Pressure. This might have been a product of the great number of programmers available as there were more “finished” games than this year. It should be noted however, that of all the games made in the last jam, only one was 3D.

This year saw a lot of excited teams—there was a group working on an Oculus game, and another group composed of 4 freshman who had never worked on a game before. There was a full-motion-video fighting game that used a green screen to create the characters for one game. For a lot of NJIT students, this was their first game jam. For a good number of people, this was also their first time making games.

What was even more amazing was the sheer amount of projects in development at the jam. NJIT served as the second largest Global Game Jam site in the tri-state region, next to NYU across the bay. There were 88 officially registered jammers, and 14 games were made this year compared to last year’s 12.

Amazingly, a lot of the groups worked together, even if they were on different projects. Several groups traded assets in order to finish each other’s projects, and everyone regarded all works seriously. With all of the interesting technology that was brought out during the game jam, it was no surprise that people were trying their hardest to finish their work.

I’m personally not giving out any awards this year. The Global Game Jam is not, and will never be, a competition. Jammers this year were able to experience that sort of thing first hand, but everyone really was because we showed up and we were able to try new things, even if we failed. Last year’s Global Game Jam definitely had that sort of feeling but more people tried to make finished games instead of push boundaries; this year, we really innovated.

Seeing as the Global Game Jam has been becoming more popular every year, and as someone who can say that the Global Game Jam has helped me get internships, it’d be cool if maybe there was an engineering-off, or maybe a research-a-thon. Who knows, maybe that could work as some food for thought?

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