The last few days have been exhausting, but in a very good way: for the first time, I took part in a Global Game Jam event!
I couldn’t resist the urge to participate: since I got my Master’s degree in Digital Games, a lot of stuff happened and I didn’t really make games at all. Plus, I spent a long time pondering how to build a network of game developers, analysts, or just game enthusiasts here in Sardinia. So when I heard that Cagliari had its own jam site this year, my decision was made. And looking back, it was a hellagood decision.
It all started on Friday, with cold winds blowing from the far East. The site was a former tobacco factory of some sort, a huge structure with a lot of separated buildings on the inside. At first it seemed a scary place, but after a while it looked familiar, secure and kind of cozy. We (the jammers!) gathered in a secondary building where a conference room met a cafeteria and a laboratory and an office. Considering that the local University didn’t really cooperate to help the organizers, what we got was way more than fine.
(the jam site in Cagliari)
Organization was cured by Fabbricastorie, a local cultural association armed with a lot of expertise, enthusiasm, and professionalism. For a prime time, I think it went even better than expected: there were food, drinks, clean restrooms, cooperation, and an ear open for suggestions. Which is always a good sign. There’s clearly room for improvement, but let’s face the truth: thanks to them, Sardinia has started a proper network of game developers. From now on, things can just get better and better.
However, as hours passed, my astonishment couldn’t but grow. The vibe there was fantastic: every jammer, from the youngest to the oldest, cooperated with passion, showing mutual respect and interest to learn something new. There was curiosity. There was reliability. There was a sense of membership to a group that, just a few hours before, was a bunch of strangers. It was as I always imagined a Game Jam should be. The most memorable moment, anyway, happened in the night between Saturday and Sunday: a late cross-over chat between jam sites, a video call with my fellow Maltese bros jamming on another island. Mediterranean jammers, assemble!
Obviously, there was trouble as well: making a game in 48hrs is not an easy task, and it gets even more difficult if you are not used to teamwork, or you have to coordinate your efforts with complete strangers. But this is what makes Game Jams so cool, interesting, and challenging. In face of all these difficulties, the satisfaction of having a playable game at the end of the event is indeed priceless.
(credits to Marta)
My team (we were five, four game designers and an artist) went for a board game with asymmetrical gameplay. Developing something analog felt strange, yet fulfilling. It was a challenge in the challenge – a way to prove our skills on a different ground than the others’. The result of all our efforts on the theme “waves” is a crazy game called Smart Sharks (tentative title), and you can find it here!
To summarize, my first experience at a Global Game Jam was a success. I met some really nice people, had fun, enjoyed very interesting conversations and finished a proper game. Now it’s time to reflect on what I learned, and make plans for the immediate future, but I can’t wait to see what next year’s Jam will bring!