Global Game Jam returns to Wrexham Glyndwr campus
Wrexham Glyndwr University’s Computer Game Development team has struck up a collaboration with counterparts in Latvia thanks to a global gaming event.
The Global Game Jam is a regular fixture in the calendar at Wrexham Glyndwr University, which is the longest-participating game jam representative in Wales.
The goal of the jam, which took place at the end of January, is to bring people together and attempt to make a game from start to finish within a strict 48 hour period.
Jams emphasise teams working with new people from different backgrounds to encourage creative thinking and result in small – but innovative and experimental – games being produced.
Due to the pandemic, the jam was online only last year, but this year participants were able to take part either face-to-face or remotely.
Richard Hebblewhite, Senior Lecturer in Computing at Wrexham Glyndwr, Programme Leader for Game Development, Game Design & Enterprise and Game Art, is a Global Game Jam Organiser for the UK and Ireland. He said it was brilliant to be able to welcome Jammers back on campus this year.
He said: “The Global Game Jam has been going for 14 years, become a bit of a global phenomenon and is now an annual staple in a lot of people’s calendars.
“It gets people together to experiment, innovate, collaborate, and provides a learning experience while trying to make games. You meet new people, do some networking and try to improve yourself.
“It’s important to emphasise that it’s not a competition, no-one’s games or work is judged in any kind of way, it’s literally all about the experience.
“Traditionally it has always been a strictly face-to-face event, but with the pandemic it has been massively affected so the structure has changed in the last couple of years.”
He added: “I’ve been part of the Game Jam for about a decade. There is a 48 hour development window, which goes time-zone by time-zone, with the Oceania part of the world starting first.
“Every year there’s a mystery theme and everything you work on in the 48 hours has to be related to that theme, which you only find out about at the start of that time.
“In the last two years, we have had a sliding window in which to start your 48 hours, and this year it was a 10 day window – the longest we’ve ever done in the last 14 years.”
Richard says that the event has managed to survive the disruption of the last couple of years and is showing signs of getting back to the record levels of participation, pre-pandemic.
“This year had something like 33,000 people involved, at 680 sites from 100 different countries”, he said.
“We had just shy of 70 sites in the UK alongside our own site here at Wrexham Glyndwr University.
“There were 52 ‘jammers’ involved at our site at the university, which was good considering the challenges of the pandemic and we managed to make 14 games in our 48 hours here.
“It was good fun and worked just as well with people on campus and joining in remotely. We also did a collaboration with colleagues from Game Dev in Latvia, Game Dev.
“We first collaborated last year as a trial and it was really successful so we liked up again. It is going to become a tradition now!
“We have a big joint conference call at the end of the weekend with all the teams from Wales and Latvia to demonstrate their games, talk a bit about what they did and exchange ideas.”
Planning is already starting for next year’s event, which Richard hopes could see a return to its traditional structure.
He said: “The Game Jam was breaking records right up until 2020, and the last full face-to-face Jam event before the pandemic was the largest in the world.
“Much depends on where we’re at with the pandemic, but hopefully we can have a shot at breaking records for involvement again.”
More information about the BSc (Hons) Computer Game Development course at Wrexham Glyndwr University, can be found here.
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