Fiona French Senior Lecturer at London Metropolitan University invited me to her Games Jam last weekend at the Accelerator in Shoreditch. I did no prior research on what Games Jam might be but signed up as Fiona and I have been friends for a long time (having done our masters degree together), her annual graduation exhibition is always fascinating and we hadn’t hung out in ages.
It turns out that Games Jam is a day or weekend hackathon of game developers who plan, design, and create either a digital or board game. Global Games Jam is an annual well sponsored event with slick videos and easy to use website. This year the theme was Ritual and after deciding not to go for a religious theme with opted to focus on clown’s and their rituals.
I was worried that we would be coding all day and night, drinking and eating junk and I would have to dust down some recursive case statements that I hadn’t used for years. All these things happened. In addition I found myself in a room where I had lots of connections to the participants, met new talented people, learnt enough Unity to move a non-player character (NPC) on screen, debugged some painful mesh problems in Maya, was caught on my first twitch.tv stream and played games with Fiona’s kids (who also game tested London 2012 mascots site for me). And I was allowed to go home and sleep each night even if no one else did.
The ability to not need sleep created a fun little game called A Clowny Day.
Tools like Unity are amazing but so complicated the kudos has to go to the programmers and artists. A lot of fun worth checking out next year.