USC presents Global Game Jam 2020!

Jason Martinez

People from around the world gathered at multiple locations on the weekend of January 31st to participate in the Global Game Jam, an inclusive environment where interdisciplinary teams collaborate to create an entire game of their choice. 

USC Games had the opportunity to host one of the biggest Game Jam sites in southern California. The participants spanned a wide range of disciplines including engineers, game designers, artists, and even business majors. It was also educationally diverse, with teams comprised of undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni. 

This year’s Global Game Jam provided teams the freedom to make any type and genre of game that excited them, as long as there was a correlation to the theme of “Repair.” With this theme as the primary creative guidepost, participants weren’t held back by the constraints of popularity or commercial viability, because it was all for fun and the learning experience! Due to the diversity of thought and expertise that each team had, participants had the opportunity to make a game that they would never have been able to create on their own.

At the conclusion of the Game Jam, everyone displayed their games for the judges to critique and most importantly for other creators to play and experience. Seeing everyone’s hard work throughout the weekend gathered into one room of enjoyment and pride was a thrilling experience. From a giant inflatable chicken destroying the city to a first-person horror story where the player repairs a house, these brilliant games showcased the young developers’ ideas of what a game can look like Despite the unique direction taken by each team, the overall theme of “Repair” linked them all together.

You can check out and even play this year’s games here!

My Experience

As a business student at Marshall, I’ve always tried to expand my knowledge through engaging in different activities that wouldn’t necessarily be connected back to my major. When you immerse yourself in diverse opportunities, you are able to learn on a whole new level while also making friends who have a completely different way of thinking than you! That’s why I decided to participate in the Global Game Jam before I graduate this May, because it’s important to make the most of these opportunities while still in college.

I was able to join a team with former USC students who are now working in large corporations such as Microsoft and Unity, as well as my friend who is a computer science transfer student. We were able to learn a great deal from our teammates, things we never would’ve been able to accomplish on our own. I worked on idea creation, and then learned UI/UX development within Unity. Terms relating to software development and game design frameworks I’ve never heard before as a business student are now familiar to me. I now know how to use source control on the command line with GitHub, how to navigate in Unity, and much more. This has given me a new technical perspective as a business student when interacting with others in the real world. I was also able to see the different styles of idea creation and what works best when developing a game.

Anyone can learn something new from this valuable experience, especially through the process of maximizing each other’s technical and communicative strengths and improving upon weaknesses with the help of others on their team. Overall, it was a great experience that I would recommend to anyone wanting to gain insight into the game development world!

Even if you’re inexperienced or have never participated in game creation, people are willing to help you learn throughout the process–you should definitely participate next year regardless of your skill level!