Global Game Jam is a worldwide event that sees game developers, students, and hobbyists come together, form teams, and build video games — all in the span of 48 hours. Interactive Arts Alberta hosted Edmonton’s Global Game Jam venue this year, and though Edmonton’s been a part of Global Game Jam for eight years now, 2019’s was the most impressive yet.
For the first time, IAA was able to host the event at the Edmonton Digital Arts College’s new home in Edmonton’s Orange Hub. This spacious location allowed 117 people to break out into 18 teams and set up shop for the January 25-27 weekend. With gracious support from myriad sponsors the teams were able to focus on producing their games during the 48-hour crunch, with access to power, food, and generous amounts of caffeine.
Some jammers were so dedicated they arrived complete with sleeping bags and pillows to really optimize their time!
No matter a jammer’s level of experience or the skills they brought to the table, everyone got matched up in a team. Some arrived together — possibly having met at previous game jams — but many chose to roll the dice and see what would happen when meeting completely new people.
Programmers, writers, 2D and 3D artists, designers, producers, project managers and more all showed up ready to apply what they’ve learned about game development — as well as pick up a few new tricks. Some work full-time in the field, but many others are students or try their hand in their space time. One dropped in all the way from Winnipeg to experience for himself how Edmonton stacks up. There were even a handful of children as young as nine eager to jump in and experience game development!
When the deadline hit, the teams uploaded what they’d made and took a much needed break before the action moved over to the Orange Hub’s theatre, where each team had a chance to show off what they’d made to the audience, with their creation projected on the big screen behind them.
And what did the groups make? Working from Global Game Jam’s theme of “What does home mean to you?” the presentations showed off everything from Get Off My Lawn, where you must defend your childhood home from city inspectors and mobsters, to Planet Au, an Oregon Trail-inspired space adventure, to Lazer Petz: a first-person game where pets do battle.
In all, 18 games were produced at the Edmonton Global Game Jam location, and the auditorium of exhausted jammers cheered each one as the presenters explained their screenshots and videos. Many of them are available to play on on the official Global Game Jam site, taking their place in the global community this event supports.
Previous game jam events in Edmonton have seen some teams take their creations and build them up to full release quality. But whether teams stick together or simply stop and admire their games as the beautiful, one-off creations of a single crazy weekend, Global Game Jam is a vital opportunity for IAA to bring together creators and sponsors alike to foster the ongoing development of one of the most innovative growing industries in Alberta.
And that means we’ll be back in 2020 to do it all again! Thank you for being here with us — we hope to see you then!