It is 2014 and Israel had its largest Global Game Jam event yet this year. Still barely comprehending 2013 is out of the door and with an unexpected amount of free time on my hands I took a blanket and a bunch of swords and went to create games with [almost] completely unknown people for 2 days.
The Global Game Jam is a yearly event where game developers from all over the world go to local event sites and meet up to create a game in 48 hours around a common theme. This year's theme was "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are" [older themes found here].
You basically come to the event, grab a seat to watch a keynote and the theme reveal, think about game ideas and try to find someone to complete your skillset in order to create a game. In our event we had time to go on stage and present our idea to get people interested and join your team.
This year I teamed up with Hadas Noam [pixel artist], Omri Lahav [composer] and Eli Brody [programmer] to tell the story of a family living in a house and making a photo album of how the girl's grandmother met her grandfather. How I Met Your Grandfather is played from the perspective of three different characters: a girl, grandmother and the house's cat.
Each of the characters sees the world differently so what for the girl is a computer which she uses to access the entire knowledge in the universe and an all powerful printer to print the photos, is in-fact a box with no way of using for the grandmother or a bed in the eyes of their cat.
While the game it still is not finished, this isn't the point as most games aren't submitted finished. The idea is to get people who are enthusiastic about game development and would like to meet others to team up and do what they love - make games. Some people might come for the chance to meet someone and join a company or start their own with people they meet. Some teams enjoy working on their games and continue to create a more polished and finished product after the event. Hadas and I are hoping to continue our own game if time allows!
Some diversifiers may be used to further challenge the team or adopt an interesting concept (games for cats anyone?). Many people use their short dev-cycle games to make a statement, common statements this years were related to the licensing of common words and adopting themes from the Candy Jam as diversifiers.
The event also has learning value as you might use new technologies you haven't been familiar with to get your game done fast. This event I used the new version of Unity3D and got to learn the new sprite and 2D pipeline which was introduced recently. I even got the chance to add achievements using Google Play Services plugin for Unity [github], who doesn't like achievements?
Personally I feel the Global Game Jam is a unique experience which any game development enthusiastic should attend. You get to clear your head and just make a game for fun without worries or sense of failure. You also get to increase your social circles with other creative and talented people who have similar interests to you, like sword-fighting.