Here’s another first for the local tech community: Farset Labs is proud to announce becoming Belfast’s first and only official site for Global Game Jam, set this year for 25-27 January. This is the biggest event of its kind in the world and brings some big name sponsors like Microsoft, Facebook and GitHub. Farset will be open for the full 48-hour period, as each participant team competes to build a game in a weekend. The event is being hosted in conjunction with the University of Ulster Office of Innovation, who will be providing refreshments so entry will be free. Belfast’s hackerspace is calling out to all kinds of creative and technical people to take part, as game development brings together the likes of writers, artists, coders, character designers, production managers and many more roles.
Global Game Jam is essentially a hackathon, focused on games of all sorts, from full-scale console productions to mobile, web-based and embedded games, as well as non-digital productions like board and card games. Some will be frivolous, others developed for solid causes, such as social impact in the case of the Games For Change movement. We expect some exciting announcements on the day from the sponsors and organisers as to what data and platforms they’re going to let us play with, and we have plans to put some mileage on our new 3D printer.
The first Global Game Jam was run in 2009. Last January, 242 locations in 47 countries created over 2,000 games in one weekend to become a Guinness World Record. But sites for this year’s event have already been registered in around 300 locations in over 60 countries, so your involvement will be part of a new world record. Farset’s Andrew Bolster is the official organiser for the event in Belfast and has been collaborating with other organisations to make it a special occasion.
As part of the Jam, participants (or ‘Jammers’) will have access to a range of materials provided by corporate sponsors. The details are on the GGJ page, but there are a few that deserve highlighting:
- $100 credit on the Joyent high performance cloud, a perfect place to host your online games,
- Corona Labs are giving away 3 months of it’s full Indie SDK, perfect for building and hosting mobile games and social applications,
- Mixamo, the film-grade character animation suite with simple import and export to a range of applications including Blendr and Unity, are opening up loads of toolkits for Jammers,
- YoYo Games are also giving away licenses to their GameMaker:Studio software for developing cross-platform mobile games, and finally
- GitHub, the heart and soul of so many developers, are giving $70 credit to each location, and we’ll be putting it up as a ‘Peoples Choice’ prize on Sunday Evening
A few key considerations:
- You don’t need any specific skills to participate, although having a coder in your team may prove useful.
- You don’t need a team. In fact, the organisers discourage the formation of teams in advance, and suggest working that out at the time.
- A secret theme will be announced at the start, by which all the games will be influenced.
- Kick-off will be at 17:00 on 25 January. There will be video presentations from some big industry players to get everyone going.
So… maybe you’ll head down to Farset Labs to play your hand in a world event that is set to be a real game-changer.