Global Game Jam 2015 swept across the Nordics in the past weekend. Here’s our wrap-up of the event across the region.
Update: Lots of more details, info, and quotes added to the sections about Denmark and Sweden
During the weekend, both young and experienced developers have been missing sleep and sweating over the keyboards, digitizers, and mice to create weird and wonderful games in only 48 hours based on this years theme “What do we do now?”.
Sites in both Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden were buzzing with activity, and when Sunday rolled around, a whole bunch of freshly coded games were ready to meet the light of day – some of them in a more finished state that others, as is often the case with game jam games.
In Norway, Grimstad was hosting one of the many local Global Game Jam 15 events in Norway, where 28 participants worked on five different project. It was the fifth year in a row that Grimstad hosted the event, and this year, it seemed like there was some fresh blood in the mix as well, says co-organizer Christian Simonsen from IMPRO Jam.
We had the usual core of people that participate every year, but much to our delight we are seeing an increase in brand new faces. Also, there is a significant increase in participants with a non IT background.
Simonsen attributes this development to the “word getting around that making games is fun and requires all sorts of skills,” he tells Nordic Game Bits
When asked to single out some of the more interesting titles created at Grimstad this year, Simonsen pointed to the game Every Brain is Sacred.
“The connection to the theme might be tenuous (but what game isn’t?), but its a interesting game. It can be played with several players taking turns drawing paths on slips of paper and adding it to the game path via the camera on their cell phone. ”
Apart from Grimstad, jamming also took place in Oslo, Hamar, and Bergen, who together produced another 44 games.
In Finland, the Global Game Jam 2015 was part of the national Finnish Game Jam, boasting 15 different locations, 689 participants, and no less than 175 games. The venues included an amusement park, a planetarium, and a jamming site in Rovaniemi that the organizers are pretty sure was the northernmost jamming site in the World.
Co-organizer Annakaisa Kultima tells Nordic Game Bits that the Finnish event usually has a nice mix of veterans and newcomers, and that this year was no different.
We have a strong presence of the game industry, some are already seniors also as jammers – they have moved from hobby/studies to industry jobs and they still keep on coming back!
However, Kultima also explains that she is seeing better and better games at the jam. “The quality of the jam games and the level of ambitions have certainly risen,” she says.
Kultima is unwilling to single out any single games because they have an additional award ceremony for the games in February. “We will have our official Finnish Game Jam Awards in 26th of Feb: we will award max 10 games from the 175 games and we are looking for games that are inventive, brave and stand out from the crowds,” she tells Nordic Game Bits
It is important for us that there is no single “best game” winner. That is not natural for a game jam.
In Denmark, jamming took place at the IT University in Copenhagen, where 44 jammers created 11 different games. In addition to the jamming, they also had a couple of other things to offer the participants. “We had a few talks from industry people (Playdead, Lohika) in the beginning, and also some socializing events in between, like a board game night on Saturday,” co-organizer Till Riemer tells Nordic Game Bits.
The Copenhagen event also had a small jury, that handed out four awards to some of the resulting games from the jam. The awards were.
The last award to be handed out was the audience award, and that honor went to the aptly titled Worst Platformer Ever. As the title suggests, it’s a game that aims to be imperfect by design, as described by it’s creators.
We wanted to make a game that pays tribute to all the platformers out there that have bad controls. As you progress in the game, the controls get increasingly fucked up
TIll Riemer also tells, that PlayIT, the games students organization of ITU that organized the event, was really happy with, how the event went, and as a result, they hope to make it even bigger next year.
And in Sweden, jamming took place in no less than 7 places across the country, from Malmö in south to Umeå in the north, creating no less than 59 games between them.
In Gothenburg, the site Collaboratory, hosted one of the events, but with an additional agenda. “We wanted to promote diversity in game culture as all jams consist of mostly male jammers and very similar screen based computer games,” co-organizer Jasmine Idun Lyman tells Nordic Game Bits.
“So we invited female game designers Gina Haraszti and Jessica Blanchet from TAG Montreal who run GAMERella game jam, to host GAMERella together with Global Game Jam. It was a great collaboration and the two concepts worked well together,” Lyman says.
Among the games produced in Gothenburg, Lyman points out Ducks a a favorite. A “cooperative puzzle/adventure game where two ducks must overcome the obstacles and finally encounter the angry cloud,” as the four man group behind the game describes it..
As a funny sidenote, Kultima from the Finnish Game Jam noticed that two teams have come up with very similar ideas in Sweden and Finland with the games Separation Anxiety and Bloody Chores.