Game Jams are highly social events in which teams of people try to make a computer game in a very short space of time. For the University of Portsmouth Game Jams, the teams are allowed one week to design, make and present their game. Teams can make any type of game they wish, but the main idea must be inspired by one of three random articles generated from Wikipedia by the organisers on the first day.[one_half] At the end of the week there is a play-testing session where all participants and members of the public can play all of the games and vote for their favourite. Certificates are awarded in a number of categories (e.g. best design, best use of technology, winner of public vote), and although the Game Jam is a competition, the emphasis of the event is very much on collaboration, socialising and learning from each other.
Dr Neil Dansey, Senior Lecturer at the School of Creative Technologies, just got back from their 2014 Game Jam in France. The event took place in conjunction with the Exia.CESI group of technical schools (France), Aalborg University (Esbjerg, Denmark) and Lakeland Community College (Ohio, USA).
In total there were around 178 participants across 12 centres. Dr Neil Dansey and Andy Bain went to the Rouen centre as usual to coordinate events, they sent 6 University of Portsmouth Computer Games Technology/Computer Games Enterprise students/alumni to various centres to help locally:
• Ian Cant (3rd year) went to Orleans
•Beata-Noemi Balint (2nd year) went to Bordeaux
•Louis Mannevy (2nd year) went to St Nazaire
•Ben Sadler (3rd year) went to Toulouse
•Ben Tunnadine (2nd year) went to Arras
•Daniel Tonks (alumni/staff) went to Lyon
The students acted as excellent ambassadors for the University and represented the University and themselves in a very professional, competent and mature manner.
“I think they all learned a great deal, met loads of new friends and had good fun.” – Dr Neil Dansey[/one_half] [one_half_last] [colored_box variation=”mauve”] The main successes of the event were:
Moving the communication to Facebook – Having a central public group rather than a series of “channels” meant that the participants engaged so much more with the event, and gave us loads of pictures, videos and links to games. It was really good to see the banter flying about between teams, and it provided a level of one-upmanship with regard to videos and so on. The group can be found here. [/colored_box]
• The standard of English used by the students has been improving year on year anyway, but what really stood out this year was the level of confidence and willingness to “have a go” compared to previous years. Groups no longer hid behind a “designated speaker” and came out of their shells much more quickly than before.
• The relevance and variety of technologies chosen by the teams was also a lot more encouraging this time – in previous years they tended to stick to the safe (and less industry-relevant) options of Flash and XNA, but this year they got stuck into UDK, Unity, HTML5, Android, and various other SDKs with C++.
• A couple of students really stood out for us with their dedication to the Game Jam, and we will be investigating way to house them for a 3-month placement doing something games-related if we can.
• The team have also had a lot of support from Catherine Harper, who Skyped in during the week to chat to the staff in Rouen, and is really keen to help promote the event as much as possible, both for the international Game Jam and also for the UoP Game Jam event that Andy runs in June each year. [/one_half_last]