Purdue Global Game Jam 2014 Postmortem

Global Game Jam 2012 was a pivotal moment in my life: it was the first experience I had in having completed a game with others, and within the confines of a weekend at that. It left an impression on me.

This left me distraught having learned Purdue had not held the event since 2010 (a year in which had no submissions). This year I had the opportunity to amend this, by coordinating Purdue’s Global Game Jam 2014 site.

Planned in two and a half weeks, Purdue’s location hosted 30 registered participants who funneled into 5 teams which stuck through to the end. While I often felt somewhat unnecessary during the event, the before and after stages taught me quite a bit.

Communication is Key

Planning Purdue’s Global Game Jam site was quickened due to the small organization team and the quick back and forth which occurred (most within the first week of conceiving the idea). It might sound obvious, but willingness to go out an ask what needs to be done was what allowed this event to come together.  Don’t underrate face-to-face communication, it expedites communication and imprints on the other party how serious you are.

Make Saying “yes” Easy

Any site you would want to host at will likely have publicly available room schedules. Use these to make specific requests when reserving space.

Also anticipate areas of concern. If the facility is often publicly available: ensure that the site will remain open as space is available. If another group has the room before your reservation: let them know that you have already planned that into your setup schedule. Anticipating these informs the building managers that you have the scheduling under control, easing their burden of decision.

Don’t Skip Team Building

The value of team building exercises became unfortunately apparent to me after this weekend. While these exercises are largely unnecessary for people who have come in groups, they are crucial to those who have come alone. At least one individual walked out early in the event as a result of not having a team; for that I feel responsible having not created created an inviting atmosphere. Event coordinators follow common schedules for a reason, I learned why the hard way.

Make Your First Game at a Game Jam (Seriously!)

Global Game Jam 2012 was one of the most influential moments of my life. My teammate and I made Alone, a game which took first place at the Indianapolis site and reinforced my belief that I could make these games. Also, it was the first game I ever made.

People who have never been to a game jam are often concerned that their lack of having made games might prevent them from being useful at these events; I hope to dispel this misunderstanding as concisely as possible. There is NO better way to learn if game development is for you than by attending a game jam.

The Community

Making your first game often requires a fair bit of research to understand how things fit together. By yourself, you stumble around the internet finding bits and pieces and try to piece them together. At a jam, you meet people who have already walked this path, and are motivated to help you walk it.

The Pressure

You are working on a limited time span -often only a weekend- to finish a game. By the end you will know whether or not game development is more than a passing interest, and it has only cost you a weekend to learn it. You don’t procrastinate as there isn’t enough time to do so.

The Payoff

The feeling of knowing you have seen a game through to completion is almost euphoric. Of the hundreds of people who say they want to make games, you are one of the few who have, and it only took you a weekend to do so!

Where I can collect my thoughts on games.