Get Your Game Jam On: Students Compete in a Global Gaming Contest

During the game jam, an NJIT team created “Fireflies,” a game in which players collect fireflies to prevent the world from going dark.

A group of NJIT students were given 48 hours to create a video game -- from scratch. They could work as a team and even get help from students from another New Jersey college.  But in the end, their game would be judged against games made by students from across the world -- some 7,000 virtual jammers from 44 countries. 

That was the scene this weekend at the School of Art + Design, which was one of two schools in New Jersey to host and participate in the Global Game Jam. There were 171 jam sites worldwide, and teams at each site had two days to make a working video game. The jam started Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and ended Sunday at 5:30 p.m.  Teams used a video wall to interact virtually.    

At NJIT, students from the Digital Design program in the School of Art + Design and Information technology students from the College of Computing Sciences worked with students from The College of New Jersey as well as a professional musician to build a game.

The theme of this year’s jam was extinction. And a successful game created by the NJIT team, “Fireflies,” revolved around this plot: To prevent the world from going dark, players must collect fireflies.

“The idea of the “Fireflies” was to keep yourself lit with the fireflies in your backpack long enough to reach the golden firefly at the end of the level,”  said Andrzej Zarzycki, an assistant professor in architecture and digital design who was the coordinator for the NJIT site.

Participating in the game jam gave students a chance to develop a range of skills, added Zarzycki, including 2D and 3D art (modeling), animation, computer programming, narrative writing as well as audio effects and music. Late Sunday afternoon, the students also presented their work and discussed it with a panel of NJIT professors.

“The students did a great job working as a team on deadline and merging all the elements that make up a video game,” Zarzycki said.