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Global Game Jam

A few weekends ago, on Friday, Jan. 29, BEAU was honored to be Utah’s host for the official Global Game Jam event. Global Game Jam (GGJ) is the world’s largest game jam event, and is hosted at different location all across the globe. Participants came from all over Utah to get together to create their own games. Whether they were past and present students of BEAU, high school students, professionals, or enthusiasts, all were welcome.

GGJ not only serves as a great opportunity to hone skills, develop new ones, and make connections, but it is also a great way to see what working in a team on a project deadline feels like. This event is not exclusive to the experienced game designer. One of the amazing things about Global Game Jam is that people of any skill level can come join a group, and learn what it’s like to create a game first hand. Even those not working on their skills, who are just looking to get a feel for what it is like to work on a game can contribute ideas, play testing, and moral support.

The event was held from Friday to Sunday, giving each team the chance to come up with the idea, develop the assets, and put everything together in just 48 hours. On Friday, over 60 participants met up and were greeted by pizza, sodas, and energy drinks to help keep morale and energy up. Each year the GGJ introduces a theme which the games need to be based around. After the announcement ceremony on Friday, they unveiled that the theme for this year’s jam would be WAVES. Now that the theme was introduced, this was the participant’s opportunity to get a feel for other people’s skill sets and interests and help them find the best members for their teams.

Towards the end of the night, creative energy was flowing, and everyone was hard at work. But as with all projects, trials came along. There was an accident with a power line, and the power at BEAU shut down, causing an interference with the work. While some participants decided to go home and rest for the night, others moved to different locations or decided to wait it out at the school in anticipation of the power being fixed.

Students of BEAU showed particular resiliency in their dedication to finishing their game. Some even slept on the couches at the school to make sure they didn’t miss any part of this amazing event. One group of students dedicated the theme of their game to the power troubles they were faced with. Team KorruptioN, consisting of Austin West and Erik Malin, created their game, ‘Outage!’ based around the events.

While they had another idea in anticipation of the event, the outage caused a halt in their progress. Showing great innovation, they quickly switched gears and adapted to their resources. According to Austin West, “We modeled out the 4 th floor of BEAU, and placed animated characters around the level that were freaking out. You must wander around in the dark while holding a cell phone in your hand that has a flashlight. Each of the characters were voice acted with funny things that were discussed during the duration of the jam.”

Participants continued to power through the outage. Hardcore development continued to make up for lost time when the power was restored, showing that with the right dedication even the strictest deadlines and setbacks can be worked through.,

By the closing ceremony at 5 p.m. on Sunday, there were over 7,200 games created globally, 38 of them completed here at the BEAU campus. From pirates, to lasers, to hotdogs, and vikings, the creativity and innovation of the participants in our great Salt Lake was impressive to behold. Another of our students, Jackson LeTourneau, and his team of David Davenport, Nathan Miller, and Maxwell Miller, even focused their game, ‘Astronaucula,’ around a star traveler trying to befriend the locals of a strange planet after being stranded.

We hope next year we will see an even greater turnout of participation! BEAU invites anyone interested to share in the experience, excitement, and creativity that comes from the Global Game Jam event. Whether you have a burning desire, a passive curiosity, or just a love for games, this is an event that you’ll want to keep an eye out for.

Learn how to bring your game to the game art industry here.