Inaugural Global Game Jam newsletter. Words from around the globe.
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Global Game Jam time!

Global Game Jam 2014 is about to happen! First GGJ Newsletter.

We are pleased to introduce you to our first edition of the Global Game Jam Newsletter. We are excited to communicate to you all things GGJ and share the amazing highlights and success stories that have helped make our event and jamming such a strong tool for game development. Another goal with the newsletter is to keep you up to date on our ever-expanding community, the games we've made at GGJ and a look at game dev all over the world. GGJ wants to grow our global community and excite people around the world to experiment and innovate within games.  

485 Locations Around the World!

As of this writing, Global Game Jam 2014 (GGJ14) has stopped accepting applications for new jam sites. We are excited to announce that there will be 485 sites in 73 countries* approved and we still have a few more applications being processed. This is a world record surpassing GGJ13 which had 319 locations in 63 countries and 16,000 + jammers registered. This year, all indications are that we will surpass 20,000 jammers worldwide.

* New GGJ countries:  Bulgaria, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malta, Mauritius, Morocco, Puerto Rico, Reunion, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, United Arab Emirates, Zambia

On behalf of everyone at the Global Game Jam we are excited about the future of games and your participation.

Happy Jamming!

Susan Gold & Zuraida Buter, editors
The Global Game Jam Board of Directors
Executive Committee of the Global Game Jam 2014

GGJ14 International Keynote Speakers

          Jenova Chen                      Kaho Abe                   Richard Lemarchand

Global Game Jam 2014 Posters from around the world. More on our Facebook page.

Article: Game Design

Yes! YOU Can Design a Great Game
By Jesse Schell.

Tips and hints from game designer Jesse Schell.
Game design means a lot to me. It’s why I teach at Carnegie Mellon, it’s why I wrote the Art of Game Design, and it’s why I run a game studio. I’m frequently asked ‘What does it take to be a great game designer?’ My answer is simple...practice, practice, practice. Throw in a collaborative spirit and a readiness to learn and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success. I’ve defined three principles through which anyone can be great at game design. Read on.

Principle the First: Anyone Can Design a Great Game

I believe this through and through. Game design is not a talent you are born with, it is a talent you develop through practice. And what drives your practice? The love of designing! If you have that love, and you are willing to practice, your game design skill will grow like a powerful muscle. Game jams are the perfect place for exercising your design abilities. At a game jam, you must be able to work within the parameters of the challenge and within a specific time frame. These constraints force you to hone your game making skills, inspiring you to become a better designer.

Principle the Second: All of us Together are Better Designers than any of us Alone

Good design comes through sharing, not keeping secrets. As more of us look at and give feedback about games, the stronger those games become. Recently, I had a new interface idea for one of our games that I was COMPLETELY SURE was genius, and a massive improvement over the old interface. The team liked it, too. We playtested it, just to check, and were shocked to discover that people outside the team liked the old interface much better. I’m so glad we playtested! I really believe that by working together, we can make amazing games, which is another reason why game jams are so valuable. At these events, you have no choice but to share ideas and collaborate with your teammates to make the best game possible.

Principle the Third: The More we all Share, the Smarter we all Become

The part of game design that is nearest and dearest to me is the educational aspect: You learn game design by doing it, and by seeing it done well. Game jams are places we can all learn from each other, and all grow stronger together. 

Your game design journey will have its challenges. Design is hard, collaborating is hard, sharing is hard, and learning is hard. And at a game jam we’re doing all of them at once. But I have every confidence that if you work together, you can overcome each of these challenges, and create a really great game.

Anything I can do to help people become better game designers, I want to do, because I really believe that good game design has the power to change the world. This is one of the reasons why I launched GameSprout — a site designed to make game design and development something shared and public, something we can all do together. On GameSprout, we can share feedback and ideas, and help each other to grow. Games develop gradually on GameSprout, and everyone in the community has the ability to playtest and comment on the works in progress, so game ideas can come to life and thrive. GameSprout gives everyone a chance to learn, practice and cooperate, and offers a place for your game jam games to live on. I personally invite you to participate in this unique and inspiring site, and watch your game ideas flourish.

GGJ13 Around The World - Group Photos

GGJ Region Spotlight: Egypt


As far back as 2009, Global Game Jam began engaging Egyptian Universities to get involved in the activity. Several top schools were contacted, among them: Cairo University, Mansoura University, American University in Cairo (AUC) and German University in Cairo. With the help of  GGJ supporter Dr. Magy Seif El-Nasr, we arranged for a presentation at the AUC in October 2009.
      GGJ Co-director Foaad Khosmood made the trip and was warmly received by the AUC students and faculty. The presentation attracted interested students who asked great questions.  However, no jam site materialized until 2013. This was not unexpected. "I knew it was going to be an uphill battle to communicate the values of a free non-competitive global activity," said Khosmood. "It's actually the same story right here in California: Well established schools can be slower to embrace games education. For example we have quite a few GGJ sites in California but still no Stanford, UC Berkeley or UCLA". Stanford University has signed up to host GGJ for the first time for 2014.

Egyptian themes have always been very popular with GGJ participants around the world. Even before Egypt was officially a part of GGJ, interesting games were made about Egypt or using Egyptian motifs. Examples are Pyramid Defense, Ankh, Siart and Ammon-Eternal Damnation.

Even the Egyptian revolution captured the imagination of GGJ participants. "Extinction in Egypt" was a GGJ 2011 board game submission from Champlain College that modeled the government-forced Internet blackout during the revolution.

Egyptians developers did, however, come back and embrace GGJ in a big way in 2013. Hosted at the ITI Game Center close to Cairo, the first-ever Egyptian site became the largest in the world for GGJ 2013 with close to 300 participants. That record is already broken for 2014.

The organizer of that jam site, Yasmin Diab is now the GGJ regional coordinator for all Arab countries. We look forward to our continued engagement with Egypt and Egyptian game enthusiasts in coming years!

GGJ14 locations Egypt
Words from GGJ13 participants in Egypt:

Alaa El Tayeb

The game jam was a new and exciting experience for all game lovers. The best thing about the game jam was the thrill of finding an idea fitting the theme, forming the team and making the game in just two days. I got to work with people I never met before and managed them to get the best results in time. Also I got to learn from others and teach them something that helped.

Ahmed Tayseer
First of all the game jam was a great opportunity to meet other game developers and game enthusiasts in the country and share ideas, creating a team was fun too, you search for people with good ideas, or people find you who likes your idea which is kind of cool, you also get to hear some great ideas that inspire you. I liked trying to find an idea through a theme, although some people kind of find any idea and try to make it work with the theme anyway. Working on a game in a limited time like two days was great, you really test your limits and work with a team to make it happen, you kind of discover new abilities that you didn’t think you had. At the end when you see what the other teams have done is the best part because you know that your game is not too bad in comparison

Hosam Emam (Organizer and Participant)
The Global Game Jam was a very good chance for me to meet game developers and designers in one place, and to talk to them about the ideas they had. I tried to play a double role in the game jam; first as an organizer – it was a challenge for me to help organizing the big number of attendees and helping them in what they needed. I also gave an introduction session about Unity3d Game Engine at the end of the first day, all activities in the three days were very excited. Second as a game developer – I tried to manage my time between organization and development – it was not easy as I thought trying to get our game done with my team in 48 hours. It was very nice to see our small game in the end. Generally I loved the idea of Game Jam with all its challenges!


GGJ Region Spotlight: Canada - Ontario

The game development community at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology is no stranger to game jams. Whenever an opportunity to host a game jam comes up, the Game Development Society at the university jumps on the opportunity to help plan and organize the event for the students. The process is fairly simple, a lecture hall is booked out for the weekend and students are encouraged to participate regardless of whether or not they are in the Game Development and Entrepreneurship program at UOIT.

Undergraduate students, graduate students and even professors come out to participate in the tiring, yet incredibly satisfying, game jams that happen at the school. Prior to the event starting, everyone starts to set up their work space just the way they like it; External monitors are plugged in and connected to laptops, drawing tablets are set up, pillows and blankets are carefully positioned for maximum comfort and some people even bring in microwaves or water boilers as they prepare themselves for the tiring ordeal.

Once the event starts, everyone immediately gets down to work. Planning, designing, drawing, programming, modelling, testing and creating. Occasionally, people take breaks to play a few video games, shoot some of their friends with Nerf guns, or even play a few games of Magic: the Gathering.

But everyone stays committed to working on their game, working throughout the day and sometimes throughout the night too. Food is scattered throughout the room in the form of bags of chips and coffee. Energy drinks and coffee are seen lining the desks near everyone's work area.

As it gets closer and closer to the deadline, the air buzzes with energy; sometimes out of excitement, sometimes out of desperation. As the games are being handed in, some groups are noticeably satisfied with how their game turned out, some not so much. Regardless, a group picture is taken to commemorate the hard working individuals who participated in the event, and everyone cleans up their garbage, packs up their stuff, and heads home to rest up for classes the next day.

GGJ14 location website.

GGJ Region Spotlight: Colombia

For us the experience we had during the Global Game Jam was very rewarding, because we pushed forward an idea that we later turned into a game, we learned to work together, each of us contributing from their field of expertise seeking to maintain a balance in terms of graphics, gameplay, music and story, which is important at the time of developing a game in a very short time.
In our case, expectations were exceeded by reality due to the great connection that the group had and the interpretation of the theme. 

More info via the Colombian site.

GGJ Region Spotlight: Iran

In the year 2007, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran officially recognized game development as an artistic profession. The non-profit Iran Computer and Video Game Foundation was established shortly after and an independent game ratings agency (ERSA) was also created. Iranian AAA titles such as Garshasp, Siavash and Aseman-dezh were debuted internationally. But the upward trend did not last long. Financial support for many of these artistic endeavors began to decline and continues to the present. Unfortunately, there is still no real market for games in Iran, and even worse, the video games still have not found space within the Iranian family culture.  
One major difficulty is lack of copyright laws which in Iran’s turbulent market has caused many to retreat from game development. In Iran, there are no publishers, just distributors. Many of these distributors simply download foreign made games from the Internet and sell them for huge profits in Iran. To them, there’s no point in investing in Iranian developers.
Since the enactment of anti-Iran sanctions, we have lost any hope of entering foreign markets as well. Banks have blocked financial transactions with Iranian game makers. A few game makers publish through foreign companies working with banks outside of Iran, but they have to pay huge premiums and taxes for this arrangement which are often prohibitive. Game engines like UDK, Unity and Game Maker are among the most popular and beloved tools for Iranian independent game makers. But now, we are prohibited to legally obtain these products and have to resort to cracked copies. In fact, many online services are routinely denied to Iranians, further adding to our difficulties.

Despite these challenges, Iran 
participated in Global Game Jam for the first time in 2012. We had only two teams and only one was able to produce an actual game (Snake Hunter). The game became very popular and inspired more to join. Iran already has five locations for GGJ 2014.
With help from GGJ, we even established our own game development event: Global Student Game Developer Competition (GSGDC) in 2013. This 24 hour contest was very well received by developers inside and outside of Iran. One great Iranian produced game that came out of this competition is Light in Shadow.
Overall, we are struggling against some serious challenges, but we also have many good independent game developers that give us hope. An excellent example is Mahdi Bahrami, the maker of two IGF recognized games: Bo (2011), and Farsh (2013).
We hope the international game community can rise above politics to bring about greater cooperation so that development technologies or publishing opportunities are not denied to any country or game dev.

 Hamzeh Azad is a returning GGJ site organizer and the founder of the Global Student Game Developer Competition.

GGJ Region Spotlight: USA - Salt Lake City

The Salt Lake City chapter of the IGDA works to create events for local developers that inspire community and networking, as well as learning. One of our favorite events is the Global Game Jam. We have hosted ever since we learned of the event in its second year. Through school sponsorships we find space for developers to network and plug in computers and even stay up all night if desired. 

We have slowly evolved our team forming strategy over the years. The initial "vote with your feet" method still is the core of our strategy, but since then we have adopted a "shopping around" policy in case you find out your team is not what you were expecting (e.g. if there turns out to be technology conflicts or lack of experience after the initial group forming around a pitch). 
We have been lucky to get t-shirt, lanyard, and food sponsorships over the years, and we have seen students get hired, companies get formed, and many impressive games get created thanks to these events. The local scene has enjoyed the event so much that other game jam events have begun forming. 

One of the things we like to say about game jams is how valuable they are. They condense the experience of creating a game, something that normally takes a year or more, and boil it down into a weekend. Nearly every complicated aspect of creating a game is encountered in this experience, and even as a veteran you learn something new as you reflect upon how this experience compares to your daily job. We highly recommend trying out a game jam or at least volunteering as a judge or a mentor for one of these events! 


SIGGRAPH is the annual conference on computer graphics.

Talk 1
We were very fortunate to hear that AJ Polanco Jr. (Woodbridge, NJ) and Danielle Esmaya (Union, NJ) presented “Social Reform Through Mobile Gaming (Seed.Genesis)” in the Mobile Apps Session of SIGGRAPH 2013 on Wednesday July 24, 2013. Seed Genesis was a product of a multi-disciplinary collaboration started at GGJ.

The project proposes the use of social media and mobile gaming to increase awareness of global deforestation and to raise money for replanting of trees in rainforests. The game produced is a product of multi-disciplinary collaboration started at the Global Game Jam in January 2012 at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and represents the efforts of six individuals: three Digital Design students from the School of Art + Design (Polanco, Esmaya, and Mateusz Mrowiec), two Information Technology students from the College of Computing Sciences (Nathaniel Martin and Joseph Hewitt), and one adjunct faculty member, Bradley Chun, who teaches the elective course, Digital Entrepreneurship, in the School of Art + Design.

Both Polanco and Esmaya were Student Volunteers at SIGGRAPH 2013 in Anaheim and they each received their Bachelor of Arts in Digital Design from the School of Art + Design at NJIT in May 2013.  

NJIT has been a host site for the Global Game Jam three times: 2011, 2012, and 2013. The site coordinator is Associate Professor of Architecture and Digital Design, Andrzej Zarzycki. Participation at NJIT’s site has grown from about 40 participants the first time in 2011, to more than 90 in 2013

Talk 2
Foaad Khosmood (GGJ Board member) was invited to speak at a SIGGRAPH 2013 Birds of a Feather session titled "Learn by Doing: Using Rapid Prototyping Game Development Events to Enhance and Augment the Classroom Experience".

Organized by the SG Education committee the discussion involved educators as well as members of the GGJ community in attendance.


Game Spotlight

During each GGJ edition, thousands of games are made. Below are two games that were continued to be worked on after the jam.

Do you have a GGJ game that you are planning to release? Do you have other news with regards to your GGJ game? Let us know via!
Starwhal (GGJ13)
Just the Tip - Breakfall (GGJ13)
To be released as Starwhal: Just the TIp by BreakFall.
MirrorMoon (GGJ12)
Mirror Moon - Team Focaccia (GGJ12)
Released as MirrorMoon EP by Santa Ragione.
Starwhal (GGJ13)
Mushroom11 - Itay Keren & Julia Keren (GGJ12). Nominated Excellence in Design IGF 2014.
MirrorMoon (GGJ12)
Lub vs Dub - Team Futuro (GGJ13).
Released on iOS by Futuro. TouchArcade Review.

GGJ14 Bits and Bobs

2014: Year of the Islands?
Jam sites on islands are on the rise! The world's largest island nation, Indonesia is participating for the first time with a whopping seven locations! Six of them on Java and one on the nearby Bali. In the Caribbean region, Puerto Rico and Jamaica have entered GGJ. Two small islands in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius and Reunion are likewise eager to experience their first ever jam. The Institute of Digital Games on the Mediterranean island of Malta is also a new participant this year.
Overall 12 new countries are organizing jams for the first-time. We welcome them and wish them good luck on their preparation!

Want to know the latest status for GGJ14? Have a look at our status page:
We'd like to thank all our wonderful Global Game Jam Regional Organizers & Site Organizers who passionately make GGJ happen around the world, spreading game development, collaboration, innovation and experimentation!

"GGJ is a celebration of everything what is best in games development; 
joyfully surprising creativity, artistic self expressions and the creation of wonders against all odds" -

Imre Jele, Co-Founder of Bossa Studios (Surgeon Simulator 2013)

Global Game Jam Radio
Robb Beggs here, for Global Game Jam Radio, the coolest, smartest, and only online radio station dedicated to Global Game Jam, guaranteed! Here's how it works: during the Jam, visit the GGJ website, follow the link to GGJ Radio's page and in seconds you'll be listening to hosts from around the world interview Jammers, play music, talk about games, and much, much more.

But wait, there's more! Ever wanted to host your own radio show? Now's your chance! We're looking for hosts to fill one hour programming slots from the start of the first Jam site, to the end of the last. There are limited time slots, and they're going to fill up quickly, so watch the main GGJ site, follow @globalgamejam on twitter or find Global Game Jam on Facebook for your opportunity.
Overheard: Finnish Game Jam will have 14 sites with one of the sites being a bus touring the country!


Global Game Jam
More stories from Jam Organizers:

Jana Reinhardt (Rat King) on starting their own GGJ location in Leipzig.
Can you keep a secret?
One of the things that unites us during the GGJ weekend is the 1 theme that will spark conversation and ideas for the jam games. Each year we have one theme for all participating locations, which builds excitement across all timezones.

We have got a challenge again for you this year: Keep the theme a secret until Hawaii has started! Let's make the theme an equal surprise to everyone from New Zealand to Hawaii. We will announce on our website and social media channels when it is safe to share. 

PS. Did you know we have a special theme committee that comes up with the theme?

TIP: Why not create a gameplay video of your GGJ14 game?

98% of the image by Kaho Abe - Happy Jamming! #ggj14
Share #GGJ14:
Submit your jam stories to the GGJ tumblr!
Overheard: The Swiss game jam location will take place in a medieval castle!

Official Global Game Jam 2014 hashtag:


Share your Global Game Jam 2014 weekend:

Jammer Resources

Are you looking for the right tools, licenses, engines and resources for jamming? We have made a couple of lists for you with links to articles, videos, tools etc. You can find them here:
PlayStation® Mobile (PSM) is a Global Game Jam 2014 sponsor

PSM is a gaming platform with which anyone can develop games for PlayStation® Vita and also PlayStation™ Certified devices.

PSM SDK can be downloaded free of charge:

Do you have a PS Vita? Try our SDK and check how easily you can develop games! You will be able to experience the excitement of developing games that work on powerful game exclusive devices.

As a jammer, you have the choice of what platform to work on. Why not gain valuable experience and access to a large distribution network by choosing the PSM?

We are looking forward to seeing your innovative games!

More info:
The GGJ14 diversifiers have been released! 

Challenge your team with some extra constraints or let them inspire you to think in new directions:


Have a great #GGJ14!

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