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5,000 Games Produced in 48-hour Global Game Jam

In "A Plug's Life," a lonely-looking "socket gal" is searching for her "prince plug." In "Face Off," you've just robbed a bank, you're being interrogated and you have to use facial expressions in facial recognition software to make the cop believe your lies. In "You Have To Die: A Karmic Adventure," the goal is to die and be born again as another type of being in order to defeat an "ancient evil." In one "You Have To Die" module you're a potato that needs to roll into the boiling pot; in another you're a person knocked off the platform by an opening door. When you die, a small ghost rises out of the corpse and you're reincarnated as something or somebody new.
Each of these was created in a 48-hour block of time by Carnegie Mellon students participating in the Global Game Jam, which took place last week in 78 countries. According to organizers 25,000 people participated in the creation of some 5,000 games.

In the United States alone, 126 "jam sites" were set up, dedicated to having people come together to create a video game or a non-digital game in order to "inject new ideas to help grow the game industry." At 5 p.m. at each local site participants were given the theme — "What Do We Do Now?" — and told to start their development.

Jam sites popped up at New Mexico State University, Shawnee State in Ohio, the University of Rochester, California State University Chico, Dakota State and Eastern Kentucky University. At Carnegie Mellon groups of designers, programmers and artists formed eight teams. The Integrative Design, Arts and Technology Network (IDeATe) hosted at the Pittsburgh campus, kept students fed and "caffeinated."

The event there was organized by Tom Corbett, instructor in game design, who made participation in the jam a first assignment for his students and warned them to keep scope in check. "I showed them 'Call of Duty' and said, 'You're not doing that.' I showed them 'Angry Birds' and said, 'Maybe you're doing one level of this,'" he recalled in a prepared statement.

"The opportunity to host the Global Game Jam was an obvious exercise for students in the game programming, design and production courses of the IDeATe minors as well as for students in the graduate program of the Entertainment Technology Center," said Thanassis Rikakis, vice provost for design, arts and technology. "The jam provided further experience to our students on how to quickly generate innovative ideas in games and prototype them through teamwork."

Many of the teams pulled all-nighters on Saturday, organizers said. At Carnegie Mellon Corbett pulled in a panel of testers and judges that included faculty from IDeATe as well as game professionals. In both the audience and judges choice categories, "You Have to Die" won.

Corbett then informed his students, "You all now have a completed game in your portfolio that you can talk about and the battle scars to prove it. And, yes, we have class tomorrow morning."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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