Global Game Jam 2021

Jason Martinez

-Written by Kimmy Stewart and Jocelyn Yan

USC Games was the host of Los Angeles’ Global Game Jam activities. Many developers participated and presented outstanding projects at this year’s event in January. Even though it took place virtually, the quality of games continued to be impressive! The theme ‘Lost & Found’ sparked the creation of many great games. Two games that really stood out were Memories of Molly and Oops! I Dropped my Key Card

Memories of Molly’s development team was led by USC Games faculties Gordon Bellamy and Margaret Moser, both experienced game designers and industry tastemakers. Memories of Molly is a 2D puzzle game based on real life events. It tells the story of an inspirational single mother, who uses musical memories to recall a life well-lived. Each round, a series of music notes are played, and the associated graphics are displayed. Players need to remember the order of the permutation to successfully continue onto the next level. 

The game gets harder as the level goes up; More music notes are played, which means players need to remember more associated graphics. Once players successfully unlock all levels within a stage, a specific memory will be triggered. 

Each memory shows a stage of the single mother’s rich life. Players witness the day she received her college degree and the moment she got married. The game also shows impactful moments such as the minute she first saw her child’s face and the long hours she worked to financially support the family. Memories of Molly encapsulates not just a game with a ‘lost & found’ theme, but also a flashback of a single mother’s laughs and tears. The game’s musical elements also challenge players to memorize both visual and auditory cues. Play Memories of Molly here

Oops! I Dropped my Key Card stood out as the only VR game amongst the other fantastic work. In this first person 3D game, players must solve various puzzles to return power to their dysfunctional spaceship. Uncover the key cards needed to power the ship by pulling levers and toggling switches. The game’s creators, Stephen Lane and Sean Maguire, were excited to put their skills to the test at this year’s game jam. This was the duo’s sixth game they’ve worked on together; they are no strangers to game jams!

The project was able to come to life because the duo finally had a PC strong enough to run the VR components. If there’s a positive to virtual game jams, it’s that powerful PCs are easily accessible. And, participants can actually sleep in their own beds! That said, Stephen and Sean shared that while it was much more convenient to work from home, they missed the traditional game jam vibe. “The atmosphere of having people around you is really enjoyable. It’s also cool to be able to present to people in-person and see what they’re working on.” Play Oops! I Dropped my Key Card here!

The creators of both titles hope to refine and add to their ideas in the future. If you see them at a future game jam, be sure to say hello! 

All the participating teams did a fantastic job producing games within the constraints of a virtual environment! Check out the other amazing projects from this year’s Global Game Jam here. We’ll see you at the next one!