Game development

Global Game Jam returns to Wrexham Glyndwr campus > News

Job : Tue 22 February 2022

Wrexham Glyndwr University’s computer game development team has started collaboration with their Latvian counterparts through a global gaming event.

The Global Game Jam is a regular fixture on the calendar of Wrexham Glyndwr University, which is the oldest representative of the Game Jam in Wales.

The goal of the jam, which took place at the end of January, is to bring people together and try to get a game done from start to finish within a strict 48-hour time frame.

The jams emphasize teams working with new people from different backgrounds to encourage creative thinking and result in the production of small, yet innovative and experimental games.

Due to the pandemic, the jam was only online last year, but this year attendees were able to participate face-to-face or remotely.

Richard Hebblewhite, Lecturer in Computing at Wrexham Glyndwr, Program Manager for Game Development, Game and Business Design and Game Art, is a global Game Jam organizer for the UK and Ireland. He said it was great to be able to welcome the Jammers back to campus this year.

He said: “The Global Game Jam has been around for 14 years, has become a bit of a worldwide phenomenon and is now an annual staple in many people’s calendars.

“It brings people together to experiment, innovate, collaborate, and provides a learning experience while trying to make games. You meet new people, network, and try to improve yourself.

“It is important to stress that this is not a competition, no one’s games or work are judged in any way, it is literally a matter of experience.

“Traditionally it’s always been a strictly face-to-face event, but with the pandemic it’s been massively affected, so the structure has changed over the last two years.”

He added, “I’ve been part of Game Jam for about a decade. There is a 48-hour development window, which goes time zone by time zone, with the Oceania part of the world starting first.

“Each year there is a mysterious theme and everything you work on during the 48 hours must relate to this theme, which you only discover at the beginning of this period.

“For the past two years, we’ve had a sliding window in which to start your 48 hours, and this year it was a 10-day window – the longest we’ve ever had in the past 14 years.”

Richard says the event has managed to survive the disruption of the past two years and is showing signs of returning to pre-pandemic record attendance levels.

“This year something like 33,000 people were involved, across 680 sites in 100 different countries,” he said.

“We had just under 70 sites in the UK alongside our own site here at Wrexham Glyndwr University.

“There were 52 ‘jammers’ involved at our site at university which was good considering the challenges of the pandemic and we managed to get 14 games in 48 hours here.

“It was a lot of fun and it worked just as well with people on campus and remotely. We also did a collaboration with colleagues from Game Dev in Latvia, Game Dev.

“We first collaborated last year as a trial and it was really a success, so we loved it again. It’s going to become a tradition now!

“We have a big joint conference call at the end of the weekend with all the teams from Wales and Latvia to demonstrate their games, talk a bit about what they’ve been up to and exchange ideas.”

Planning is already beginning for next year’s event, which Richard hopes could see a return to its traditional structure.

He said: “The Game Jam was breaking records through 2020, and the last full face-to-face Jam event before the pandemic was the largest in the world.

“It all depends on where we are with the pandemic, but hopefully we can break engagement records again.”

More information on the BSc Computer Game Development (Hons) course at Wrexham Glyndwr University, can be found here.

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