Four Minnesota School of Business-Richfield students and members of International Game Developers Association (IGDA) participated in this year’s Global Game Jam held at the Nerdery (have you heard of this place? It’s amazing!) in Minneapolis on Jan. 25-27. Current Video Game and Application Development students Drew Buchanan, Paul Metcalf, Sean Johnson, Hayden Wallraff, and December graduate Nick Behrens, all attended Global Game Jam (GGJ), the world’s largest game jam event.
Let’s back it up a bit because if you’re like me, you might say, what’s a game jam? You then might research it and find this on GGJ’s site: The structure of a jam is usually that everyone gathers on Friday late afternoon, watches a short video keynote with advice from leading game developers, and then a secret theme is announced. All sites worldwide are then challenged to make games based on that same theme, with games to be completed by Sunday afternoon.
You read that right–people get together and create a video game from scratch…in 48 hours. Mind-boggling, right?
This year’s theme was “the sound of a heartbeat.” GGJ website states that there were 319 jam sites in 63 countries. 16,705 people registered, and 3,248 projects were registered. GGJ aims to stimulate innovation, experimentation, collaboration and creativity.
GGJ is not a competition, but rather an intellectual challenge–a weekend event held at the Nerdery where people can get together, explore new technology, experiment with their development skills, and create a new game. The best part, Video Game and Application Development Program Chair Peter Border explains, is gaining experience.
“It offers students experience and a great networking opportunity,” Peter says. “They are in a room with 30 other people doing the same thing, interested in the same thing. And at the end, they get to show it off to the world.”
His students agree.
“Working with far more advanced professionals in a fast paced development jam should be a requirement for game students to graduate,” said student and attendee Paul Metcalf.
On Wednesday, Feb. 20, the jammers returned to the Nerdery to showcase their work. Their video game was named Earth Pulse, and the tagline is: it is the future. Earth is running out of natural resources. You need to use the last of Earth’s oil to develop new technologies before this vital fuel runs out.
Peter had pushed the event in his classes, encouraging everyone to participate, and he was there at the Nerdery to watch his students present their video game. When asked how it felt to see their work, a huge smile took over his face.
“I was busting out with pride.”