Global Game Jam 2016.
This year me and my friend Marcus participated in our very first GGJ. We did not know what to expect at all from the event, but after completing the 48 hour endeavor, I highly recommend it.This post is very much after the fact but I still want people to know all about it.
Global Game Jam is a worldwide event where people around the world meet up in locations with other jammers and create games, digital and analog. It spanned January 29th to 31st, Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. That’s 48 hours of straight game making. To be honest, it tallied to 30 hours in a weekend, but when do you ever get to spend that much time making games? I personally get about 2 hours on a light week so this was almost 15 weeks of game design in one weekend!
Our site this year was MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After getting off work and nabbing some free coffee I signed in at the front desk. We were supposed to grab a name tag, a role, and your proficiency (on a scale of 1-3) in that role. I wrote down a 2 for board game design. My friend Marcus wrote down a 7. He was really good guys, no lying.
After getting the initial introduction out of the way, our theme was introduced: Ritual. I have never worked under the constraints of a theme but it got my ideas surging out of my mind. Ritual. Ritual. Ritual like summoning demonic monsters through blood sacrifice? Ritual like repeating a task to do something? Ritual like repeating a series of actions just to get your life going like someone who had OCD? I relished that the word ritual had a double meaning.
We broke up into brainstorming groups of around 10 people. We were served food but I chose this nasty mix of bad prosciutto, cooked onions, black olives, and roasted peppers. Not being to enjoy my food, I turned to spitting out all the ideas I could think of. I highly recommend trying this as an exercise, not to burn calories but to burn through your crappy ideas to get to the gems. We came up with crappy ideas like summoning monsters, traveling to places and checking in, repeating actions to achieve a goal. Some of our gems were dancing at a bar mitzvah and trying to blending so you wouldn’t be forced to dance in the middle. Or teaching a bear how to become a better bear by influence him through ritualistic tweaks like improving his diet and exercise patters to become a better bear. Or brewing potions to fight demons (which became our starting point of our game).
Then came the stage fright. We had to pitch our ideas for the 100 people in a lecture hall and convince them to join your team. As people went up, most people mumbled their games through unenthusiastic tone. My friend pitched the bear idea with insane moxie and dubbed her game Poke the Bear. Marcus pitched an idea about traveling to cities in Rome to achieve quests in other areas and I pitched my witches brew idea. As people finished, the people that did not pitch ideas were asked to pin their name next to the idea they liked the most. We were the only analog game there out of 40. We were bound to succeed!
Zero. Between Marcus and I, we had one person sign up. We re-pitched and we ended up with one. One! That was infinitely better than what we had before! Somehow the one person that signed up got two more people to sign up and we had a team of five! Five game designers working together on one board game. I had never been more excited before! More updates later.