Scottish Game Jam 2011
Twelve months go quickly don’t they?
SquareGo was happy to return to Scottish Game Jam 2011; not only to cover the event also to judge this year. The Scottish Game Jam being a part of the larger Global Game Jam allowing teams of, well anyone really, to get together for 48 hours and try and make a game based on a specific theme.
Because we’re sitting early in the Global Game Jam clock, and many of the US Teams haven’t started yet, we can’t tell you what the subject matter of the jam is but it is interesting that some commonality was already forming between some teams. Some subjects also seemed off topic but it was early days, so we’ll let them off.
First things first though and a chat with Scottish Game Jam gurus Romana Khan and Jonathan Sykes about the event.
With twenty teams and well over one hundred people in the room we really wanted to know how she felt it had grown.
“We’re definitely the biggest site in the UK. Considering we grew from our humble beginnings in 2009 from about twenty-five people. Across Europe we may be the second biggest or third largest site.”
With a promise of verification of the facts for our Sunday article it was essential that the all important sponsors got a mention too.
“Apart from our fantastic hosts, the Glasgow Caledonian University, we’ve got Nokia onboard and because of them we’re able to provide food for the weekend for all the participants. They’ve also given us a couple of cool prizes to give away. We have yourselves of course, because coverage for the entire weekend is perfect. We have Chunk Games who are also doing some mentoring. Ruffian Games who are doing some judging. Play 2 Improve, indiePub – who also gave us a donation so we were able to give prizes and Dave Thompson’s Ludometrics. It’s really good. It’s a nice blend.”
Given that we were judging we expected the more alternative solutions to the Global Games Jam subject matter would be more positive. Romana agreed, “I think the judges will be looking for uniqueness. We’ve encouraged them to look at games that are creative and different. Something that sets them aside from the run of the mill games that will come out based on this years theme.
“[As with last year] there are achievements in place but these are supposed to be entirely voluntary so teams are not supposed to get extra credit for them it’s just to diversify their game. Hopefully getting those achievements in place will make those games stand out a bit. The slightly more wacky and creative ideas will certainly stand out in the judges eyes.”
Unfortunately, as the organiser, Romana has some personal commitments that mean she has to fly out of the country before the final decision is made but, given she did over 48 hours without sleep last year, we know that she’ll be following events on twitter @scottishgamejam #sgj2011 – why aren’t you following them yet?
“I’m still excited and there will be a definite buzz as we have our Eurovision style judging process, with the points being announced. We have changed the format slightly because of the numbers and so this time the judges will go round and spend time with the teams beforehand.”
Jonathan Sykes, Glasgow Caledonian University’s senior lecturer in Games Design, was equally enthused, “Three years already”, and after also complimenting the event sponsors and the Scottish Game Jam helpers, we decided to get down to the nitty gritty. What did he see Scottish Games Jam achieving year on year?
Jonathan was clear with his answer, “First of all we have this creative space. People keep coming and we must be doing something right as they keep coming back and bringing their friends with them.”
“I love the fact that as they’re growing older they’re all getting jobs within the industry and they still come back. They don’t think, ‘this is just for me because I’m a student’. It’s something they want to come back to and enjoy the creative process of being here.”
“Everyone starts off relaxed, then the first night kicks in, they get tired, and then the emotions start. They start to get stressed and then everything has to come together. It always does and just being here lets you feed off the energy of the people.”
It certainly does and we wondered how he felt this could be educationally productive for his students.
“My students learn more in doing 48 hours of this then they do in 12 weeks of course work. The reason being that they experience ‘crunch time’. This is exactly what ‘crunch time’ is like in the industry. They also see the ‘pipeline’ that they don’t get in an academic course because here they just turn round and say ‘I need that artwork!”, and the artist says, ‘How do you need that?’ They have that dialogue. In a coursework situation they’ll usually send an e-mail and it can take three or four days, instead of something that will take five minutes over a table.”
“The amount of work, the amount of learning experience that happens over this 48 hours is immense and I really do recommend to every single student that, if they really want to be part of the games industry that they should either do this or a similar experience.”
“In fact learning from this we are trying to bring the Global and Scottish Game Jam experience to an academic course.”
Good words to hear in a market that is striving to outdo itself at every turn. We’ll be back for a brief word with not only the teams but Jonathan and Romana as the pressure rises and we reach the end of day one.