GCU holds successful virtual Global Game Jam

Fri, 05 Feb 2021 16:19:00 GMT
(Pictured  left to right) Dr David Farrell & image of the student game
(Pictured left to right) Dr David Farrell & image of the student game "Cold Call"

GCU recently held the annual Global Games Jam event, with this year’s activity taking place online due to the current pandemic.

The annual weekend-long event, which usually takes place inside the Sir Alex Ferguson Library, brings together game creators from around the world to develop a game in just 48 hours.

Global Game Jam participants are given a specific theme at the start of the weekend and then have 48 hours to plan, design and create a game which gets showcased on the Sunday afternoon.

This year, entrants of the Game Jam were asked to create a game using the theme “Lost and Found”. Working as the Scottish hub of the Global Game Jam, the university saw 166 people take part.

One team of GCU students, (including Ruari McGhee, Kyle McSwan, Briony McKelvie, Euan Brown, Pashaj Bruno, Conor Goodman, Sandra Kubasik and Daniel Kowalski) decided to create a game titled “Cold Call”: a survival narrative based adventure game.

4th year Computer Games (Design) student Euan Brown explained the idea behind the game. He said: “In Cold Call, the player takes on the role of Sam, a ranger in the local nature park. The park doesn’t appear like one that Sam has worked in before, one with mystery, a sense of dread attached. As Sam, the player, becomes familiar with their new watch tower, they come into communication with an unknown survivor during a snowstorm.

Throughout the game the player will need to direct the survivor to safety, using information provided by communications and researching books found within the watchtower. From beginning to end, the player continues to build a greater bond with the survivor, concluding with the survivor taking a leap of faith to meet you.”

4th year Computer Games (Design) student Briony Mckelvie found that the team really enjoyed working with this year’s theme. She said: “This year's theme was really good as it is commonly used as a theme within mainstream games. It provided a lot of good material, while also giving way for more unusual ideas from what those games lacked.”

4th year Computer Games (Design) student Kyle McSwan and the team embraced the challenges that the virtual Game Jam brought. He said: “: Doing a game jam completely online can have its challenges, but for us it went surprisingly well.

A lot of us have worked before and have enough Game Jam experience to be able to adapt well enough to this new normal. Discord (a project team app) was of course huge for us to keep in contact with each other and allowed the social aspect of the Jam to stay alive.

The only drawback to the Game Jam being totally online is the lack of face to face interactions and the helping of others. A good part of the Game Jam is the atmosphere of the Sir Alex Ferguson library too, which was greatly missed this year.”

4th year Computer Games (Software Development) student Connor Goodman believes that taking part in the Game Jam can have many benefits. He said: “Taking part in the Game Jam is a great way to test your skills within your respective discipline and also your communication skills if working in a team. This can also be a great way to boost your confidence.”

The Scottish strand of the Global Game Jam has been organised and hosted by Applied Games lecturer Dr David Farrell for a number of years, who has now hosted his final Game Jam as a GCU member of staff. Kyle McSwan wanted to give some words of thanks to the well-respected lecturer. He said: “Not only did David make the Global Game Jams feel special, but all of the game courses as a whole. The energy he brings to the Game Jams are clearly from a place of passion and it is infectious for all those involved.

I (and many others) have a lot to thank David for over the years; from the Game Jams to his teachings. I think I speak for a lot of people across all the Computer Games disciplines in that he will be truly missed. I hope to see him as a jammer next year, and hopefully in the Sir Alex Ferguson library!”

4th year Computer Games (Software Development) student Ruari McGhee has been extremely grateful for David’s support as a lecturer. He said: I'm most thankful to David for is how available he was for supporting us all.

I’ve gone to him many times over the years for advice both during the many events that he set up, like the Game Jams and board-game nights, and just generally being able to meet him in his office. He’s also been instrumental in encouraging us to take part in out of university events, such as the New Blood game creation completion. Even during the all of the events and opportunities, he was always there to see what we were working on and give us some advice.”

You can find out more about the Global Game Jam on their website

By Rachael McAlonan

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