Global Game Jam: Building games in just 48 hours

Scotsman Games: Hundreds of Scottish game developers are preparing to join thousands of others from around the world for the sixth annual Global Game Jam.
Developers at work at a Global Game Jam event. Picture: ContributedDevelopers at work at a Global Game Jam event. Picture: Contributed
Developers at work at a Global Game Jam event. Picture: Contributed

Game creators will gather in Glasgow and Dundee next weekend for the Scottish wing of the international event, described by organisers as the “largest game jam Scotland has ever seen.”

All 150 tickets for Glasgow and 50 tickets for Dundee were snapped up in the space of a few days. Such is the demand, all 50 spaces on the waiting list for the event are also full.

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The Scottish Game Jam will be held between 24 and 26 January at Glasgow Caledonian University and Abertay University, two of the country’s leading institutions for game-related courses.

Half competition, half social gathering, such jams have become increasingly popular among developers in recent years. In essence, they ask teams to draw on their creative inspiration and technical know-how to build working prototype of games in just 48 hours.

The Scottish event is part of the wider Global Game Jam, an annual initiative which sees thousands of game developers in hundreds of countries spend a weekend making games.

The event set world records last year with 16,700 jammers logging in excess of 700,000 hours at 300 sites across 63 countries to create more than 3,000 games.

Last year, developers gathered at three Scottish sites. Cumulatively, more than 200 people made 39 games over the course of the weekend.

The titles included Lub vs Dub, an award-winning title based around electrocardiogram readings which has been recognised internationally for its riveting multiplayer offering.

The game was devised by developers Futuro at last year’s jam before being expanded. Its success saw it being picked up by coffee chain Starbucks, who selected it as their Pick of the Week app late December across the US and Canada.

The offer allowed the company’s customers to download the game for free, providing a significant spike in publicity and players for Futuro.

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David Farrell, a games design researcher and lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University, and one of the co-ordinators at the Glasgow site, said this year’s jam promised to be extra special.

He said: “If demand for our local sites bears any relation to global demand, this could be the largest technology event the world has ever seen.”

Another of the Glasgow co-ordinators, Romana Ramzan, a director of the Global Game Jam, added: “We are thrilled by the response, this is by far one of the most exciting events in the games calendar.”

Ryan Locke, a lecturer in media design at Abertay who is co-ordinating the jam’s Dundee gathering, also expressed excitement about the three day-long event.

“Abertay University is proud to be part of Scottish Game Jam for the second year running,” he said. “Game jams provide a unique learning opportunity and a chance to really test your creative and technical flexibility. We are looking forward to seeing how both our students and the Dundee development community come together to forge innovative new ideas in such a short time.”

The Scottish Game Jam is held in association with the International Game Developers Association Scotland, XBLA Gamerhub, CalmDownTom and Ludometrics.

Although the event has sold out, Glasgow Caledonian University is currently looking for extra space to accommodate another 50 jammers.

Anyone who missed out on getting a ticket should check the event’s website, or follow the organisers on Twitter at @ScottishGameJam