Our thanks to our buddy Austin Smith for this guest article highlighting what’s happening this weekend with the Global Game Jam at the AL.com building! Austin is one of the facilitators of the After Hours Game Dev Group that meets at CoWorking Night every fourth Wednesday, we’re thrilled to feature the cool work these guys are doing to put Huntsville on the Game Dev Map!
On Friday January 20th at 7:00PM, Huntsville will be one of over 600 sites across 93 countries participating the Global Game Jam! The Global Game Jam is the LARGEST game jam (game creation) event in the world, and the Huntsville site stands bright as the ONLY location in all of Alabama that you can participate in this global game creation experience.
This year the event is being hosted in downtown Huntsville at the Office Alliance facilities on the 8th floor of the AL.com building (200 West Side Square Huntsville, AL). The event is from 7PM Friday until 7PM Sunday for ages 18+.
What’s a Game Jam?
A game jam is a dedicated time that humans come together to make a full game (from concept to completion) in a short amount of time (typically a weekend). Using a short time frame encourages rapid prototyping that hopefully results in small, fun, innovative, and experimental games. Popular games that have been made this way are World of Goo, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, and Surgeon Simulator.
What happens at a Game Jam?
At a game jam, a bunch of people come together with their game developer supplies, get a theme, brainstorm, form teams, and GET TO WORK on making their sweet games! Sleep may or may not happen (although we hope it does for your own health). After all is said and done, everyone shows off their awesome games they made. Usually a game jam will run for 48 hours (172,800 seconds) of great fun. It is not uncommon for people to meet and work with future employers and employees, and for those who want a full time job, a game jam can be seen like a showcase of your skills to local game development companies.
I’ve never made a game before, can I still participate?
YOU BETCHA! For my first game jam, I had NEVER made a game before; I learned a new game engine that weekend; and I had an ABSOLUTE blast with the 6 other people on my team that I met (for the first time) that weekend! We will have people at the Alabama game jam that have never before participated in game design as well as professionals who pay their bills with their SKILLS! ALL ARE WELCOME and encouraged to come and participate. You are almost BOUND to learn something, and I can virtually guarantee you will have fun, make friends, and create a cool game in the process!
How much does it cost?
IT’S FREE! We have been very fortunate to have sponsors every year donate space and wi-fi for us to use, and this year, you can thank Office Alliance (located on the 8th floor of the AL.com building) for letting us use their FANTASTIC facilities.
Sounds great! How do I sign up?
Go to http://www.GlobalGameJam.org and search for the Huntsville jam site, create an account or log in, and you are all set to go! You can also hang out with the community on our Facebook Event: http://bit.ly/FBHSVGGJ2017
What if I don’t know how to program? Is there a place for me?
Almost certainly! All teams will need people (or a small team of people) who can code, create art, help game design, play test, and make sound effects. Many times one team member will have to do multiple roles, but if someone can come and help with any role, it makes the game that much better! Since the event lasts 48 hours, every hour of help you can bring has a HUGE and welcomed impact. Also if you would like to program, I would suggest spending a few evenings learning GameMaker via free video tutorials found online. You will be surprised at how easy and fun GameMaker is to pick up!
What if I’m under 18?
Unfortunately, we are unable to have people under 18 at our event, but we are looking forward to expanding next year! In the meantime, please join the After Hours Game Dev Group on FaceBook and come to our monthly meetings where we learn about game design and prototype games!
So who isn’t this for?
The short answer: Robots. Our advice for humans would be to show up and see where you can help! We have plenty of ways that people can contribute like taking pictures of the teams, helping play test, doing an hour-by-hour blog or twitter update of the weekend, or even helping run the event by getting things the event runners may need.
I have a (insert event here) Saturday. Should I even come by?
ABSOLUTELY! We would love if you could make it the entire time, but understanding that life happens, you are welcome to come by anytime and contribute however you can… even if its just 10 minutes of crazy vocal sound effects.
This sounds like so much fun. How else can I help?
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact Austin Smith at AfterHoursGameDev@gmail.com