Generally, making a video game takes a long time. Even independent titles can take years. However, The Global Game Jam, which took place last weekend from 20 to 22 January, pushed the process into overdrive. Working in teams, participants only had 48 hours to make a video game. Adding to the challenge was the theme, which was only unveiled after the contest began. Nonetheless, this is an event that many look forward to. As this year sees Republic Polytechnic’s eighth year hosting the Singapore chapter of this global event, VR Zone went down to check it out.
Global Game Jam
So what is the Global Game Jam? It started in 2009 and is held every year in January around the world. This year, according to the official website, over 36,000 people took part at 702 sites around the world. The idea is to get people to make the best game they can, limited only by their imagination. This year, the theme was waves. Teams interpreted this in a variety of different ways, from waves of the ocean to audio waves. All games created this year can be seen on the official Global Game Jam Website. They’re all available for free because this isn’t about making a viable product. You come to Global Game Jam for the love of the process, not to make anything to sell.
This is why this event is held at Republic Polytechnic. Most participants are students enrolled on the Polytechnic’s game design course. Students are encouraged to take part, but often they join of their own volition, and they often come back in recurring years to take part again. However, it wasn’t just students taking part. Smaller studios like Actually Sane, who released their first title on Steam last month, took part and won best art design for their project, where you control a drunk space ship in an endless runner setup. Likewise, Gwen Guo, co-founder of audio design company IMBA Interactive, came down to help provide support for teams who would otherwise struggle to make their own audio. She told VR Zone after the start of the Jam that audio was often the last consideration for game design, and she wanted to start changing that with the next generation of game designers in Singapore.
Republic Polytechnic’s role
“Republic Poly were the first to come on board with Global Game Jam, partly because we started a diploma in Game design,” says Jerry Chua, assistant program chair at Republic Polytechnic in an interview with VR Zone. “We’re big on supporting indie games, and that’s why it seemed like a really natural fit. This an event where anyone, as long as you are keen on making games, can come in, regardless of skill level.”
Right now, Republic Polytechnic is the only official host of the Global Game Jam in Singapore and has been there since the jam started. Chia believes that this is because the campus is well set up to host such an event, despite being somewhat out of the way. Chia adds that they have seen growth in terms of sponsorship and attendance over the course of eight years. Right now there aren’t any attendees of previous jams who have gone on to be the next big thing. However, Chia says that this is because the Jam is still relatively new, and this could change within a few years.
As a final word, we asked about the presence of VR. Even though there were a significant number of users there, no-one was working with VR. Chia believes that although there wasn’t any this time round, within two years, it could be possible. Right now, headsets are very expensive and some aren’t even readily available in Singapore. All this could change within a few years. When that day comes, we could see some really amazing projects come out of this game jam.