sorry it took ages to write this but i’m gonna talk a bit about global game jam online (2021) at gæmz discord. if you just want to see the games, the game jam page on itch is probably the best place. (of course, you can also have a look at the submissions in the gæmz’s page on the official ggj website too!)

i didn’t make a poster but made this quick last minute cover art!!
a banner for itch

What’s GGJ? What’s Gæmz? What is this all about?

i wrote a lengthy explanation about how the game jam was held in both the itch game jam page and ggj page. so, i’m not going to talk about it again but i’ll just write some basic information here.

GGJ® (Global Game Jam®) is a worldwide game creation event which happens annually. basically, it’s a participatory event where… um… the participants make games. for more information about ggj, you might wanna read the info on their website but here’s a spoiler:

The Global Game Jam® (GGJ) is the world’s largest game creation event taking place around the globe, typically at physical locations. A “game jam” is essentially a hackathon focused on game development. It is the growth of an idea that in today’s heavily connected world, we could come together, be creative, share experiences and express ourselves in a multitude of ways using video games — it is very universal. The weekend stirs a global creative buzz in games, while at the same time exploring the process of development, be it programming, iterative design, narrative exploration or artistic expression. It is all condensed into a 48 hour development cycle. The GGJ encourages people with all kinds of backgrounds to participate and contribute to this global spread of game development and creativity. (globalgamejam.org/about)

Gæmz Meetup is a meetup I started in 2019 for art/experimental games and interactive/playful media developers, enthusiasts, and the like to network and hang out.

since i started it as an on-site meetup especially because i didn’t know how to meet people (i still don’t) in tokyo, i was not quite sure about making it an online event (although i’ve tried a couple of times in august and in september). but thanks to the people on discord and the people who come to the drawing sesh, i felt comfortable enough to host a ggj site online. some friends said that they’d join my site when i asked if they’d be interested in participating ggj on gæmz discord. and it happened to be the last day to submit the application to be a site organiser. so, i hurried up without thinking too much. and voila, i became a site organiser.

btw, we are having another online meetup on 10 april 2021! bookmark https://twitter.com/gaemzmu/status/1370678011188506625

So what was it like?

since i was a member of the theme committee and diversifiers committee (i’m not listed there. so it’s either i got overlooked or i was there by mistake but it was cool working on the diversifiers for this years jam. ugh i sound like a fraud haha) and i was lurking in the site organisers slack before i thought about becoming a site organiser, i already knew a decent amount of things to organise this year’s ggj which was special because it was the first fully online ggj. so i felt rather confident that i could organise a small site by myself if i have some people i can trust as participants.

it also helped that i knew what i wanted in an online game jam after participating in several online game jams in 2020 with friends(nordic game jam, 0h game jam, jam cultura abierta, and 7dfps 2020). i wanted it to be long and slow. using discord in ngj also helped me envision how i wanted the game jam discord be (i basically copied them).

yogalicious, a yoga mmo developed with horatiu for ngj
jam cultura abierta might be the longest jam i’ve ever participated and i loved much time we’ve had as it was a very relaxed jam and we could also polish the game instruction and the controls (it was also fun to draw fake public domain illustrations). those are some of the assets i made for keyboard guitarra, a browser-based guitar simulator developed with ferran for that game jam.

since there are many ggj sites in japan (tokyo alone had about 6 sites if i recall correctly) and i saw them organised by more professional organisers with full bilingual support (or maybe multilingual) and that i knew that gæmz site is going to be small, i didn’t make any effort to make it very accessible to everyone (even though i welcomed and would welcomed any new people) so that i don’t need to work too much on it. here are the key points i decided to stick to to be lazy:

  • no bilingual descriptions/updates (i’d usually write in english and japanese for normal gæmz meetup and it takes time for me to translate & update)
  • only in discord (some sites let the participants join on multiple platforms such as zoom & discord but i decided i don’t want to have options)
  • use UTC and sometimes JST only. (i knew that there will be people using different time zones but i just decided to stick to mainly utc so that i don’t need to check what time it is in several locations each time i reschedule something)

i think it would’ve been nicer if i could make it more accessible to the people with disabilities, etc. even just as an experiment rather than for practical purposes because it’s undeniably cool to make things accessible but unfortunately i was too ignorant to even think about that option. maybe next time–if that’s financially feasible to me (would love to know how to make an online event accessible to everyone for free!!!)

i’m gonna talk about discord next!!!!

Discord

i hosted the game jam within the existing gæmz discord server. to avoid non-participants writing in the ggj channels, i made a role @ ggj21 and made three channels in a new category called GGJ21. The first three categories were as follows:

  • #announcements-ggj21 (view+react only channel)
  • #ggj21 (open for all jammers)
  • voices of ggj21

on 26 January, an hour before the first day of GGJ (14.00 UTC/23.00JST seemed like the best time for everyone as after that would be too late for the people in japan and before that would be too early for the people in north america) after the keynote video was released on twitch, we had a casual hangout session to introduce ourselves, do a briefing, and to talk about games idea (if any). we also used google docs to post thoughts and information about ourselves. by the end of the hang out session, we had one new channel #lost-and-found-manager5000 for zach. it took a few days until we had all teams.

i made this table in the intro session doc for forming teams.
this is the final version of our ggj discord. you can still browse everything on gæmz discord.

since i eventually made those channels visible to everyone on discord, the people who didn’t participate in the jam could also have a look at the progress. i think that was a good thing. since i kept the jam site open until the end, some people came and joined (or considered joining).

by request, i made a new discord emoji during this ggj which is thorsten stretching in the ggj 2018 keynote video i made with him and sos

Results & Presentations

approximately 6 hours after the game jam (again, 14.00 UTC/23.00 JST), we presented our games. i live streamed the presentations on my twitch.

the followings are the presentations and the links to the individual games on itch.io.

Mail Rabbit by psychefunk, npckc, and emu.

Lost And Found Manager 5000 by Zach, Cornet, and me

The Mold Exorcist by Some Donkus, nanocat, and Cornet.

PartyCraft by Horatiu, me, Nothke, and almost many other people as the character voices (see the itch page for the full credit)

Ballgirl and the 64 Lost Gems by emu

also, they couldn’t make it to the presentations but we had Mom I can’t find it! by Yahya and Pluvias too.

i also made a twitter thread. you can see all the twitter handles there.

Post Jam & Impression

some donkus’s the most exorcist made it to the top free games!

after the jam, some of us continued using the discord channels for a while (or we still do at a slower, more sporadic pace) as we kept developing games. that was very nice because i think it’s nice when you want to continue developing/polishing a game after a game jam, especially if it’s a short one like GGJ.

it resonates with what i suggested as an advice for the jammers in the ggj18 video. i also did a hyper talk titled don’t finish your game for ngj2019

i don’t know if i will host another GGJ especially if it’s not online since i know good, more professional site organisers in several places in europe and tokyo but i liked this one and hope everyone enjoyed it. (to be clear i could do it or another game jam again if the people are up for it, though!) overall it was a pretty relaxed jam and i think that worked decently with time differences too. i even got to take my puppy to the vet and waited for a very long time during this jam. it was nice that some people spontaneously streamed their progress in the voice chat so that we could pop in whenever we felt like it. (i also hosted a casual daily catch up sesh every day during the game jam but it almost wasn’t needed). i liked how many of us (including me) worked on more than one game too.

so yeah!!!!! i’m satisfied!!!!!! tysm for reading & scrolling :^)

Semi-pseudo-scientific avant garde musical nonsense fiction comedy film designing roadie jesting around on the planet called Earth in the galaxy far far away.