Jamming together at the Global Game Jam 2019


I’m a gamer at heart. Be it competitive or casual, I like to try out a variety of games. I also have a passion for how games work and how the mechanics of a game works. I’m not the only one though. There’s actually a global initiative to create awareness on game development. This is what Global Game Jam is all about.

What is Global Game Jam?

Well, in simplest terms, think of it as a hackathon focusing primarily on game development. The goal is to create awareness about the different aspects of game development and to also encourage people to join the field.

Global Game Jam
Global Game Jam 2019 saw 47,000 participants taking part (Image Credits: Prodigi and Gameroar)

Global Game Jam 2019 saw a total of 47,000 participants (fondly referred to as jammers) taking part in the 48-hour event. These jammers were collectively developed 9,000 games, across 860 sites in 113 countries. This year also marked the 11th iteration of Global Game Jam and made it the biggest Game Jam to date.

Adding Sri Lanka to the Global Game Jam

Participants includes artists, musicians, coders, designers, writers and students, from all walks of life. Sri Lanka too took part in the Global Game Jam as well. Held at the headquarters of Motion Miracles (Pvt) Ltd, the Global Game Jam was organized by the Sri Lanka Unity Developers. From the 25-27th of January 2019, 22 jammers coded their way through 48 hours of intense jamming to come up with the most creative games they could find.

Jamming together at the Global Game Jam 2019 3

Global Game Jam for Sri Lanka was open for anyone over the age of 18 and was completely free. All you had to do was register. Snacks were also available onsite with access to food in close vicinity as well. A key highlight of Global Game Jam was that there was no restriction on game engines. There was also a number of free tools and offers from sponsors if needed as well.

In Unity, there is strenght

At the end of 48 hours, there were 6 games that were created by the participants. These were Alone, Hiraeth, Lonely Home, Mould, Save The Earth and Way to Home. Each game was developed using the Unity engine.

Global Game Jam
Teams showcasing the games they developed

While most of the games were developed for desktop use, Lonely Home was aimed at Android devices. Similarly, Way to Home was developed for web standard. This meant that it could be run on and browser that supported HTML5, Java, JavaScript and Flash.

Sri Lanka can definitely make use of this

If you recall, we spoke about the viability of hackathons in Sri Lanka. While the innovation and creativity seen at hackathons leave much to be desired, something like Global Game Jam has major influence for Sri Lanka. We’ve seen games such as Kanchayudha, Extraction Valley Unbroken, and even a Koombiyo game, all being developed right here in Sri Lanka. I also attended a workshop where my colleague Mazin spoke about what makes a great video game.

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The bane of some games is that while they have killer graphics, gameplay tends to get repetitive or the storyline is confusing. If the game mechanics are difficult to comprehend, that will have a negative impact on the game as well.

Enabling the next generation of game developers

If Sri Lankan developers can carry out initiatives such as Global Game Jam and encourage others to enter the fields of game development, from there the next step would be to focus on developing engaging gameplay and a good storyline. Thus, the three criteria of good graphics, killer storyline and engaging gameplay are seen to.

Global Game Jam
Empowering Sri Lankan game developers is vital if we want to make a name in the gaming industry (Image Credits: Prodigi and Gameroar)

Overall, hats off to the Sri Lanka Unity Developers for giving Sri Lankan game developers the chance to take part in Global Game Jams. We hope to see more initiatives like this and perhaps even some AAA titles in the making from Sri Lanka as well. More details on the Sri Lanka Unity Developers are available here. Similarly, you can also check out Global Game Jam’s Facebook and official site as well.   


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