My Global Game Jam 2012 Experience

This was my first game jam of any sort and I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I participated in the Mechanics, Dynamics and Aesthetics weekend event presented by Marc LeBlanc at the NYU Game Center last year, but that was comprised of a few quick group projects where finished products didn’t really matter and the purpose was learning how to fail quick primarily with some early physical prototypes that can be played as more of an option. The Game Jam, however, was a place where I was going to spend the weekend working with a team and I wanted to be able to walk away with a project, something that could at least let me tell myself, “I made this and I like it”.

I’m used to working at a big company, and not in the most hands on fashion when it comes down to the coding, design, or even art. I mean, I made video assets for over 4 years. But what I worked on at my job I was usually the front runner and the most knowledgeable of the craft. Now I was heading over to be a part of a large group of artists, programmers and straight up designers who have done the Game Jam, or something like it, before. It was very intimidating to say the least. I was being ripped out of my comfort zone.

I didn’t know who I would work with, what I would be working on and to an extent, what I would be doing. I’m an artist, and I’d like to think someone who deeply understands games at a game designer level. I have been working toward being a game designer for some time and this would be the first project that I would hopefully complete and along with that, my chance to prove to myself that I could do it. But for a full weekend commitment the descent into the unknown was unsettling to say the least.

The first evening was daunting and I honestly at one point or another wanted to just go home. It didn’t seem like I would be able to find a group that had people I could get along with who had a sense of control over their ideas. People had been forming groups since before I even got there, and this was 2 hours before the whole “group forming” time would start. Hell, the keynote hadn’t even happened yet. They were doing a lot of talking, but every time I asked a group what their idea was, they had a very roundabout idea, no idea at all or seemed very gung ho to start with a genre and have the game concept come later. None of these responses really left me feeling secure; I just kept worrying that if I worked with any of these groups that I would get angry during the process and just walk out because of frustration.