Global Game Jam Pushes Students to the Digital Edge

By Kristin Schneider
On January 25 through the 27, Fitchburg State University students participated in the schools fourth straight Global Game Jam (GGJ). The GGJ is the world’s largest game creation event, with participants from all over the world. This year’s event happened across 113 countries and 860 locations, resulting in 9,000 games being made by 47,000 jammers.
Students at FSU were excited for the event would push their limits. Korey Kinney, a junior Game Design major, says that during the Jam he was most looking forward to “the opportunity to challenge [himself] and create a game with fellow peers.”
The GGJ formed from the realization of how connected the world is, and with this realization came the idea that people could come together, and their share creativity and experiences “the growth of an idea that in today’s heavily connected world, we could come together, be creative, share experiences and express ourselves in a multitude of ways.” It is not a competition but a collaboration, allowing and encouraging people to explore and test their skills in a fast-paced environment.
Every year the event has a secret theme that the participants must use when designing their games. After the theme is revealed at the start of the event, they are then challenged to create, design and develop a game around it and are then given a total of 48 hours to develop their game as far as they can.
Professor Jonathan Amakawa said, “The jam encapsulates the game design process in a nutshell from the initial conception of a game concept to the actual creation and realization of a playable game.” Amakawa believes that the event not only gives students an idea of what they can accomplish within rather a tight time frame but also gets them excited and encourages them to work hard on projects outside of class assignments.
Megan McLaughlin, a junior in Game Design, said that though she did not really prepare for the Game Jam, she still “…felt prepared because I knew I just wanted to use my art skills and not worry about stressing over other skills like I do in classes.”
The date for next years event has yet to be announced, however after being recently labeled as the Biggest Game Jam Ever, GGJ seems to only be getting bigger and better.