By Thomas Gillen
On Friday, Jan. 20, students in the digital game design and development major gathered in the Winnick Student Center to prepare for this year’s annual Global Game Jam, a 48-hour game development event that takes place at jam sites across the world over the same two-day period. The event is open to any participant over the age of 18, students and non-students alike.
This was the campus’ second year acting as a jam site for the event, at which participants are given a theme and have to develop a game around it in any genre or platform. Usually, the games created in the 48-hour time span are computer games for the PC or Mac. While games for other platforms can be created, they rarely are due to their long development cycles.
The participants are encouraged to come into Global Game Jam with an open mind so they are able to form a practical idea when their theme is revealed. This year, students learned the theme on Jan. 20 at 5 p.m. and had until Jan. 22 at 5 p.m. to finish their games.
Andrew Wallace, an assistant professor of digital game design and development, oversaw the event on campus. Forty participants took part in the jam this year, a fair increase from the 30 who did last year.
Wallace recounted, “This is a great experience for our students because having a game under your belt is very important for the students in the digital game design and development program; many students in the program haven’t made a complete game before, so this event gives them that experience. Just about all of the folks in attendance were LIU students. There were one or two non-Post students at the jam who were friends with somebody who was there.”
After gathering in the Long Island Room in the Winnick Student Center, the participants in Winnick and across the world learned that this year’s theme was “waves.” While the Long Island Room was available to the participants for the entire 48 hours, they were not required to stay the entire time and could leave to sleep and eat. Eric Guadara, a graduate student in the digital game design program and his team created a game called “Pelt ‘Em” about “a restaurant franchise mascot who gets stuck in a ball pit and is swarmed with screaming children.” Guadara said that “the player has to pelt the children with balls or die trying. Since the theme is waves, our group came up with the idea after thinking about waves of enemies in games like Call of Duty zombies. Someone else made a joke about a ball pit so we decided to put that in the game as well.”
Sophomore digital game design major John Mendez also took part in the event. His team created a game called “Combats.” He described it, “In this game you play as a bat and use your sonar to navigate a maze. This is a competitive multiplayer game where you fight to get points in a maze and compete against other players.”
At the end of the 48 hours, teams around the world upload their games and put together a short presentation on what they had created. While prizes have been given out in the past, Wallace explained, “We decided not to this year as we wanted to encourage experimentation and creativity as opposed to competition.”