Feb 21, 2013

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Learning To Listen To Our Hearts At Global Game Jam 13

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Did you know that during the last weekend of January, over 3,000 video games were created? Did you know that these games were being built in over 60 countries? And did you know that over 13,000 individuals designed, wrote, programmed, and finished these games in a measly 48 hours?

From Friday to Sunday, these feats of game-making were accomplished as part of Global Game Jam 2013.

The Global Game Jam is an annual gathering of designers, developers, artists, musicians, and anyone else who who has any interest in making a game on a ridiculous time limit. Not only is the Global Game Jam the biggest game jam in the world, taking place in 63 countries and 321 jam sites, but the Vancouver site at UBC’s life sciences atrium was the single biggest site in the world.

On Friday afternoon, jammers showed up with whatever equipment they desired – laptops, console dev kits, musical instruments, Wacom tablets, or just a fedora and a big idea – and started getting ready to create.

I arrived at UBC at around 6:30 to find a room of over 250 people talking, eating, gaming . . . but not yet jamming. It was supposed to have already begun, but a streak of unimaginable bad luck had been following around the jam for days before it actually began.

Not long before the event, Vancouver jam organizer Kimberly Voll was sitting in her office surrounded by vital jam equipment – computers, servers, and boxes upon boxes of swag – when 30,000 litres of water suddenly burst forth from the ceiling and landed directly on her head.

Most of the swag, several computers, and the office ceiling was lost in the ensuing flood, but the determination that the jam would go on prevailed, and the charity of the Vancouver indie community replaced much of the lost inventory.

As the jam was about to get started Friday evening, it was clear that whatever malevolent force had caused the flood was still feeling vengeful – the first day started out with intermittent internet outages, which would continue to plague the jam over the three days.

Despite these technical speed bumps, however, the jam needed to get started, and it wasn’t long until the Vancouver Global Game Jam was finally up and running.

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About Garin Fahlman

By day I'm a college student, and by night I sleep, and sometimes when I'm sleeping I have a terrible nightmare in which video game journalism is moderately underwhelming. I'm trying to do my part to make sure that dream never comes true. I've played video games since the day I found a Sega Genesis in a trash can and decided to bring it home. I have great memories of putting in the 32X version of Doom (which was inexplicably found along with the Genesis) and getting it to actually kind of run. But I really fell in love with games the day I got my hands on an N64 and played Ocarina of Time for the first time. The opening fly-by of Kokiri Forest is still the most incredible thing I've ever seen, unadjusted for inflation. I currently try to play anything and everything that looks even slightly interesting. As a result, I am constantly alternating between games that came out yesterday, and games that came out back when you needed to shovel coal into a furnace just to power up the console. I'm currently playing Borderlands 2, and rank it second in my list of games with best moons. You can find me on Twitter @GarinFahlman.