[FIELD NOTES] Global Game Jam + GameCraft 2018


Last weekend, over 200 programmers, artists, musicians and designers converged on the University of Minnesota campus to create games. Global Game Jam, launched in 2009, is the world’s largest event of its kind. Last year over 36,000 participants from 95 countries created over 7,000 games. Minneapolis-based games advocacy nonprofit GLITCH hosted GameCraft, the Twin Cities chapter of the event again this year.

The event kicked off at 7PM on Friday, January 26th with the announcement of this year’s theme: Transmission. Participants used this theme as a springboard for their creative efforts and unified the games that were created around the world. After the big reveal, developers pitched ideas related to the theme in the hopes of gathering talented teams. A cooperative game where two players only see certain aspects of a puzzle, a game based around deciphering an alien language, and “Intergalactic Noodle Ninja” were just some of the proposed ideas.

Work began in earnest late Friday night and didn’t stop until Sunday evening. Some chose to sleep in tents while others came and went. Teams took over classrooms at the University of Minnesota’s Rapson Hall, fueled by a bottomless supply of Red Bull and the determination to create a playable game in two days. One team developed a “Social Anxiety Simulator” that involved challenges like not throwing up or maintaining eye contact with another person for an extended period of time. “Wave Jump” tasked players with riding a bolt of lightning in a fast head to head race with an 80s aesthetic.

GLITCH Executive Director Evva Kraikul is continually impressed by the caliber of games that are created each year. “Global Game Jam is something I look forward to every year. Our community of makers are creative, talented and super passionate about games. It’s rare to find a space to be able to come together with folks from multidisciplinary backgrounds, experiment with technology and co-create playful experiences.”

Each year participants are required to upload their completed games along with all of its assets and source code. The games from the Twin Cities site are archived on the GameCraft Global Game Jam page. The annual Global Game Jam Play Party takes place at 6pm on Friday, February 16th at Modist Brewing Company.