The 3rd annual Global Game Jam – 2nd annual for Philadelphia – was this weekend, and Philadelphia’s chapter of the IGDA (International Game Developers Association) held theirs at Indyhall.
Participants trickled in and, once many had arrived, the formal introductions began. Grant Shonkwiler, Chair of IGDA Philadelphia, lead the introductions, boasting experience ranging from board game enthusiasts to Unity lovers to professional software developers.
This was followed by the GGJ video, which had a special keynote from Keita Takahashi, the beloved creator of Katamari. And then, with boxes full of Popchips and a fridge full of Bawls – two of the sponsors of the event – the real excitement began.
Once all the formalities were out of the way, the teams were formed and the brainstorming began. It was a flurry of activity for a few hours, with everyone talking and running in and out for food. I left around 10, but I was back by Saturday afternoon.
The crescendo was frenzied, with Chris Grant from Joystiq on hand talking to developers and checking out the scenario. I got a chance to sit down with William Stallwood from Cipher Prime and Jordan Santell from Space Whale Studios. Neither were able to participate due to looming deadlines, but they came out to provide encouragement and support for their fellow developers.
I also spent a lot of time with IGDA Treasurer and co-organizer Tristin Hightower as well as Ryan Morrison and Ryan Harbinson from Island Officials who opted to go with board game development to take a break from all the video game development they’re currently working on.
Board Games at the Global Game Jam
Tristin and I also did some video interviews, getting insight into the games being developed and the ideas and people behind them. When I left around midnight, I could hear celebratory shouts coming from the backroom, where some gamers were playtesting the board game “Nuke Jersey.”
On Sunday morning, some of the developers were refreshed from going home and getting showers and some sleep in their own homes, while others were running on over 40 hours of no sleep. One group was recording sound effects from the other room, much to our amusement.
I checked out some of the games going on, hoping to play some of the card game Languini. Tristin and I interviewed Grant Shonkwiler, and shortly after, the official closing ceremony began, and then games were demoed. With 35 participants, an amazing total of 11 games were made – three computer games, seven non-digital games (card and board), and one game for the iPhone.
For the full list of developers and games that were created during this incredible weekend, check out the Global Game Jam website.