Next weekend is the Global Game Jam 2013, an event that I have been looking forward to for pretty much the entirety of the last year. Despite all of the shit that has happened to me, events that have thrown me headfirst into running my own company and developing a big (yet small) game project, the itch to sit down and jam out a game over the weekend has stuck with me, and what better time than the best known (in the US at least) game jam, the Global Game Jam?
Game jams are cool, they get creative juices flowing and give pretty much anyone the opportunity to just jump in and make a game. As someone who worked primarily on videos at a game company, far away from the guts of the code, last year allowed me to jump in, help focus a team, come up with a game idea, work on art for the game and feel completely included in the design process.
Recently I have started to question participating in the jam, however. This year has seen a lot of change for me. Primarily I am balls deep (eyeballs that is) in my own personal game development along with my programmer. Despite the increase of time at home with my family since starting to work from home on everything, time is still not a luxury that I can give them enough of. And then there’s the fact that instead of the central hub for game making at the NYU Game Center from last year, we now have 3 locations that will undoubtedly dilute the game development base.
While I’m all for disrupting the norm and not allowing the NYU Game Center to be the default hub for all things game design related (like having the Sportsfriends Tournament at Parsons), I’m also wary of the already relatively small group of people who might be interested in attending this event being split even further.
It would be one thing if the Global Game Jam was something that people outside of the in the know game design culture of New York were chomping at the bit to attend. I’d be fucking thrilled if the NYU Game Center was too small to accommodate the endless waves of people from all manner of socio economic and racial backgrounds who couldn’t register and therefore new sites were set up at various schools throughout the city. Yet instead we have a niche game curating collective and snooty want to change the world in a heavy handed fashion with games group offering to whisk away those who might find working in either of those spots to be more their thing.
Beyond that, I’m questioning whether or not I actually have the time and mental space to walk into a room full of people who I might potentially hate working with and fail hard over the next two days trying to make something worthwhile. Working on my game project every day I think about if what I’m doing is stupid or worth it, so I’m wondering if things go south at the GGJ, if that would be a major blow to my already fragile game designer’s psyche.
Right now I’m still on the fence. Perhaps I just need to suck it up and check out how things are looking next Friday, sticking with my usual go to place, the NYU Game Center. Despite having an abundance of students who often seem super entitled and gung-ho to take over projects, I have a lot of experience with dealing with them and the confidence to get in a motherfuckers face, if I have to. Also Doug Wilson will be there, and he’s a one cool dude.
Silent Barn, in contrast, only has room for a very small amount of people and the possibility of getting stuck working on a game you really don’t want to (which can happen even at a big game jam site) seems to be very high, but a bunch of my friends will definitely be there.
The Games for Change jam at SVA can go fuck itself. Forcing social messages into a game jam just seems to be asinine.