BC RISE Learning Institute holds Global Game Jam event

By: Jade Kelly

The Global Game Jam is, as its name implies, a global event where creators group together to combine their skills and make a game in a period of 48 hours. The event began on Jan. 26 and ended Jan. 28, and for the first time Bellevue College organized an event to participate.

The game jam was promoted and sponsored by the Associated Student Government, the Computer Science IT club, Robotics Society and Bellevue College’s Women’s Chapter of Associated for Computing Machinery. The RISE Learning Institute organized the event and invited all Bellevue College students 16 years of age and older to participate. Even individuals who did not attend the college could attend. It took place in Room L100 and 65 students showed up, forming 11 game teams in total.

Outside of the age restriction, there were no limits set for the game jam’s participants. Those who attended could work in groups or solo, they could make a tabletop or digital game, or a hybrid of the two, and everyone was encouraged to step out of their comfort zone for the sake of creating.

Students paid $13 and non-students paid $24, and the event provided work area, internet, and food so that attendees could focus primarily on their creativity.

According to Michael Reese, the Global Game Jam is a way to encourage people to get creative, break out of their comfort zones, experiment and take risks with the things they make. The event, while intensive, is meant to be low-stakes and low-stress for this reason. He also made the important point that one of the practical benefits of participating in the game jam is that it adds to a student’s repertoire of experience and skills. When students are transferring, or going into whatever industry that interests them, being able to show how they applied the skills they have learned outside of an academic environment is incredibly valuable and makes them much more attractive to potential colleges and employers.

The game jam was framed as a competition to provide incentive, and the team that won first place won a trophy carved in RISE Learning Institute’s makerspace, as well as one $10 Amazon gift card for each team member.

The game jam kicked off with a “Super Smash Bros.” tournament at 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 26, along with pre-event workshops on design and programming, to prepare those who needed it. At 5:00 p.m. the game jam began in earnest with the announcing of the jam’s theme, which was transmission. Students formed teams, and most groups ranged between sizes of three to six people.

After forming their teams, participants set to work brainstorming, storyboarding, mocking up and discussing their ideas. With no limits to restrain them other than the 48 hour time constraint, some truly unique games came into existence. For instance, the game that placed first, which was called “1960s Politiks,” was primarily a physical card game with an app component which would dictate and change game rules.

Overall, the event was a huge success, and eleven new games came of it. Renee Nejo, a Bellevue College instructor and game developer, was a huge contributor to the event, having assisted in promoting awareness as well as teaching a workshop offered before the event on using Unity, a common game engine.

This may have been the first game jam event ever held at Bellevue College, but Michael Reese hopes that the event will be held annually from here on out.

The games made at the game jam can be found on the Global Game Jam website at https://globalgamejam.org/2018/jam-sites/bellevue-college/games.

To learn more about RISE Learning Institute and its events, contact Program Development Director Michael Reese at michael.reese@bellevuecollege.edu or visit their website at https://www.bellevuecollege.edu/rise/students/makerspace/.

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