By TONI WHITE
Niagara College participated in an annual Global Game Jam, organized by Tom Brown, a Game Development professor, which took place over 48 hours Jan. 25-27.
The Global Game Jam is an event meant for Game Development students who want to practice being in a fast-paced work environment and pumping out a game in a short period of time.
Unlike regular Jams, the Global Game Jam involves schools from all over the world. The event has 860 websites and 122 countries that take part.
Although the Game Jams are generally geared towards current Game Development students, recently graduated alumni often come back to the college to participate.
“I know a couple of the alumni come back because they can try something different from what they currently do at work versus the day-to-day tasks of creating a game. Sometimes, they’re polishing other skills because I know some of them don’t game develop all the time and they just want to give it another shot,” said Brown.
Some students and alumni gathered into small groups while others worked alone.
Matt Roman, a second-year Game Development program student says he participated in the event because he is hoping to get experience making games in general and because this is good practice for making games rapidly.
This year’s Game Jam theme was ‘What does home mean to you?’
“For us, home meant safety and security. You start off on your own planet, which is doomed, and your goal is to find a new, suitable home for yourself,” said Roman.
Other groups used inspiration from the theme to create games involving protecting your home from zombies, cooking, or surviving a plane crash and searching for your family who parachuted to safety before you went down.
Many of the students heard about the event from the organizer, or had participated in Game Jams in the past and decided to come back and participate as alumni.
“I’ve always thought it was a really cool idea to just pump out a game in such a short amount of time, like all of the experience you get and everything,” said Kobi Byfieot, a first-year Game Development student.
Byfieot had never made a game before and decided to come to the event and try to learn how to make a game. She explained that she had been working on a platformer game with inspiration from the game Limbo with a couple of other first-year students.
“It’s been really fun so far, and some people have been sleeping in sleeping bags. I’ve met some really cool people and I’m learning a lot,” she said.
Turner Spring, an alumni of the Game Development program also participated in this event with a couple friends. He participated in last year’s Game Jam.
“I enjoy the experience, I enjoy Niagara College and it’s a good chance to make games with my friends. It’s a good experience to learn. Everyone should do it,” said Spring.
For two third-year Game Development students, Damon Benny and Andrew Chiarelli, this experience has been a great opportunity for them to expand on their current skills and learn how to be faster.
“I’ve mostly been doing the same thing I’ve been doing for other projects, so I’m just learning to do it a bit faster,” said Chiarelli.
Brown explained that it’s a good thing for the alumni to come back to the college for events like these because they help the current Game Development students learn more.
“Coming back and mingling with the students gives a better comradery and allows the students to learn a lot more, because the alumni know more than the students because they’ve been through this process already,” he said.
Most Game Jams have a winner, but the Global Game Jam is more difficult to choose a winner due to the vast amount of people participating worldwide.
This event is more for collaboration than winning. Brown explained that the students often upload the whole project and not just the game itself so that others can see how they did, and learn from certain aspects of their game.
Brock University also hosts a similar event called Spooky Shapes Game Jam that Tom Brown also helps organize.