Jamming, but not on musical instruments, will be the order of the day later this month as dozens of NJIT design and information technology students and a few from surrounding colleges pull all-nighters—some even all weekenders –at NJIT’s Third Annual Global Game Jam (GGJ). GGJ is the world’s largest game-development event. About 7,000 participants from 44 countries gathered at sites worldwide to create games. NJIT is the key location for Northern New Jersey.The free annual marathon, this year set for Jan. 25-27, 2013 in the College of Architecture and Design’s Weston Hall, (Lecture Hall One), Summit and Warren streets, offers anyone over the age of 18, the chance to design market-ready video games under intense, but authentic, deadline pressure. Participants leave with a crash course in video game production, plus a product to enjoy or even market.
GGJ is not a competition. Organized in 2008 by GGJ, an international non-profit corporation based in California, the weekend extravaganza fosters game design and game education through innovative events. To register, sign in at this web site, then add NJIT as your local site. You may also contact event organizer COAD Assistant Professor Andrzej Zarzycki.
Last year, 70 students participated in the NJIT Game Jam, making it the nation’s 14th largest site. Such an outpouring of support did not surprise anyone, since NJIT offers two popular electronic game design programs— COAD’s Digital Design Program, the other program in Information Technology (IT) through the College of Computing Sciences. This past year The Princeton Review hailed this winning combination at NJIT one of the nation’s top spots for studying video game design.
“This event is one of our most popular,” said Zarzycki. “GGJ at NJIT is an opportunity for all students to get involved in an exciting event, meet students from other colleges and learn how to create games by working with colleagues. Energy and enthusiasm is enough to get started. The rest you can learn while jamming with us.”
The weekend begins Friday night as participants watch an online video about rapid-game development, after which the jam’s theme – last year it was a serpent eating its own tail – is announced. Teams then build games around that theme. The deadline for a finished product to view is Sunday at 4 p.m. Most NJIT teams meet it, although even by professional standards, less than two days to develop a fully-functional product would be pushing the limits.
“The NJIT Game Jam was simply outstanding,” said Ben Gross, a digital design major who participated last year. Gross’ team created a 3-D game called Labyrinth. “Many students from different majors collaborated with us. Even better, you don’t have to have a team to sign up. Teams form on site and the more people on a team from different majors the better it is.”
Zarzycki agreed. “Even if you cannot participate, stop by the final presentation on Sunday, Jan. 27 at 5 p.m. to cheer on the student teams,” he said. “Or, stand by and be the first to test new games.”