At the end of January, as a member of the Aspire Systems team, I took part in the Hackerspace Game Jam in Gdańsk, part of an international event called Global Game Jam. This year there were two teams form Aspire, creating two different games.
Game Jams are events that take place all over the world where participants gather in small teams and create simple games from scratch in a limited time; in this case, 48 hours. The goal is not to create a AAA class game, but rather to create a single level or just a demo of a game that fully shows your vision of mechanics, story, etc. It also must entertain users for 30-45 minutes.
This was the second time I participated in such an event. As in the previous year, it all started on Friday evening with a set of inspirational videos. At the end of the presentation, the main topic of the event was revealed. Previously, it was ‘communication’ but this year it was ‘home’, and all the games created had to be related to this in some way.
Once the topic was announced, the clock was ticking, and we were given an hour to figure out what we wanted to create. After this time all teams presented their ideas.
Next, all teams were formally created and registered by the event committee. Thanks to such an approach even lone wolves were able to take part and they could team up with other members. After 48 hours, we were supposed to submit our work onto the organization’s servers and prepare for our games to be played. This was the icing on the cake.
All tired, with our brains totally flushed out creatively, we were given voting cards. We had two and a half hours to play the games made by all the other participants and to give them points. That was the most fun part.
Just like a marathon
Spending your free time doing things you normally do at you work may not sound appealing, but in fact, Game Jams are a lot of fun and they are a good tool to break your professional routine. They are a sort of a marathon. Runners finish exhausted, dehydrated yet satisfied, all because they reached their limits, tested themselves against their weakness, and won.
To spice things up a little, during Game Jams you meet people with the same crazes as yours, and when you’re in this specific state of tired mind, it’s easy to find your soul mate. You share the same jokes, fight the same adversities. You become a pack.
Such events are also a great way to improve your teamwork skills. During all the events we were working in teams that consisted only of co-workers. But despite the fact we shared the same employer, most of us were working in different teams, on different projects. On top of that, some of us even worked in non-IT departments, such as marketing. We were forced to share our thoughts and solutions.
We are more eager now to cooperate during our professional tasks and have also learnt each other’s style of coding and problem solving, as well as communication. We created a sort of a technical shared ground that will make our cooperation more efficient on future projects.
In retrospect, I was there, and I had fun, even though I didn’t win. I gained a lot of knowledge, made some new contacts and would certainly do it again. I’d also advise you to give this sort of activity a go.