A rush of creativity: Goshen hosts the Global Game Jam

Ramona Whittaker

Staff Writer

rkwhittaker@goshen.edu

This weekend, the 23rd through the 25th of January, Goshen College will be hosting the 2015 Global Game Jam for the first time. This is an event where up to 40 participants will get the chance to form teams in order to create board game computer games through a simulation of what is called the “crunch” method, where deadlines and adrenaline mix with a “secret theme” to produce a rush of creativity.

The event, which will be held in the Umble Center, begins on the evening of Friday, January 23rd and goes from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. It then continues Saturday at 9:00 a.m. and continues until 11:00 p.m. Sunday sees participants arriving at 9:00 a.m. and continuing work until 4:00 that afternoon, followed by the evaluation of the games and the creation of a video greeting for next year’s participants.

There are currently around 25 registered Jammers, with others possibly joining before registration closes. Meals will be provided, with Java Junction as the breakfast caterer and Paescello’s Pizzeria, a local business, taking charge of dinner.

The Global Game Jam is just that: global. The International Game Developer’s Association (IGBA) first sponsored the event in 2009, and by 2014 there were more than 23,000 participants from 72 different countries, adding more every year.

So why is Goshen College taking part? Jeanette Shown, enrollment database manager and analyst, who originally came up with the idea, says “Why not? We have computer science students, we have artists, we have musicians… we have all the great ingredients for this. There’s no reason why a college of this caliber shouldn’t be a part of the Global Game Jam.”

By participating in this event, which is also open to staff and community members, students get an idea of what it is like to work in the environment of game development.

Shown hopes to see the college continue to take part in GGJ in years to come. She is especially excited about emphasizing the participation of women, a group currently underrepresented in the game-development world. A team of women from Ball State will join in, as well as female community members, staff and students.

Participants create games around a secret theme, which will be unveiled at the beginning of the event. Last year, the theme was “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Games are held under a Creative Commons license for a year, after which ownership reverts to the members of the team that created them.

Says Shown, who has participated in GGJ in the past, “You go without sleep most of the time, but it’s a lot of fun.”

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