On January the 14th the Oxford Hackspace provided the location for a new event dedicated to game creation – the January Game Jam! Organised by Simon Roth and sponsored by VideoBrains (who kindly provided us with PIZZA), the JanJam gathered people of all skill levels, from professional indie developers to total beginners.
The operative word was ‘short and sweet’ – in just 9 hours all us participants had to develop a full game on the theme of ‘a journey’. Many different paths were tried: Unity was perhaps the most used game engine, but people also used Love2D, the Unreal Engine, the non-linear storytelling tool Twine, or the good old combination of pen and paper.
In the end we saw, amongst the others, a tabletop game featuring a group of explorers escaping together from a cave gradually invaded by a gelatinous, voracious blob, a video game about a bear working as an impromptu taxi driver, a bus trip controlled collectively through a Twitch chat and even a special new piece of hardware which allows the player to help leaves climb back their tree by blowing hard enough to create a gust of wind!
Many prizes were offered for multiple categories in the form of Steam keys for even more games – which will hopefully give more inspiration and ideas to all aspiring creators. And for some this was merely warm-up in sight of a much bigger event – the following week’s international Global Game Jam!