Global Game Jam returns to UC Santa Cruz for third year

Participants race to create video and board games in 48 hours

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Game design veteran Brenda Brathwaite will be among the speakers at UCSC for the kick-off of the 2011 Global Game Jam.

Can one create a game in 48 hours? That's the question to be faced at UC Santa Cruz during the 2011 Global Game Jam from January 28 to 30. This is the third time the UCSC campus is taking part in the worldwide affair.

A kick-off event will start at 4:30 p.m. in the Simularium (Room 180) of the Engineering 2 Building. LOLGames Creative Director Brenda Brathwaite, GRL Games CEO Graeme Devine, and freelance board-game designer Tom Lehman will speak on game design.

More than two dozen participants, many of them UCSC students, are expected at the Santa Cruz site for the jam, during which they will create their own board or video games. Registration is open to the public, and participants are asked to register in advance at ggj.soe.ucsc.edu.

UC Santa Cruz's involvement in the 2011 Global Game Jam is sponsored by the UCSC Center for Games and Playable Media (games.soe.ucsc.edu), along with the UCSC Graduate Student Commons, UCSC Graduate Student Association, Department of Computer Science, Gaijin Games, and Dig Your Own Grave Games. Center Director Michael Mateas, an associate professor of computer science in the Baskin School of Engineering, serves as the faculty sponsor, with graduate student Teale Fristoe working as the lead organizer for the Santa Cruz site. UCSC graduate student Foaad Khosmood serves on the organizing committee for the global event.

"UCSC has been involved in Global Game Jam from the beginning, and now there are sites in 43 countries around the world," Khosmood said. "In addition to video games, we decided this year to include nondigital games like board games as well."

The idea behind the Global Game Jam is to create a game from scratch in two days based on a theme released the Friday of the event. Last year's theme, "deception," resulted in nine games from Santa Cruz and 900 games worldwide. Santa Cruz-made games included RoboPunk and the online virtual board game Sinistrum.

Wi-fi and camaraderie will be provided at the jam location, Baskin Engineering Room 368, but participants must bring their own laptops. The site will be open for the entire 48 hours.

At the end of the jam, games will be uploaded to the Global Game Jam servers and made available for public play. Participants retain ownership of their creations and are encouraged to keep developing their games after the event ends.

For additional information about the UC Santa Cruz jam site, visit ggj.soe.ucsc.edu.

About the Global Game Jam

Inspired by and modeled after the Nordic Game Jam, the Global Game Jam was founded in 2008 by Susan Gold, International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Education Special Interest Group director, in collaboration with active IGDA members Gorm Lai and Ian Schreiber. The 1st Annual Global Game Jam was held in 2009 with 1,600 participants in 23 countries creating 370 games. In 2010, 900 games were finished with 4,300 people taking part.

The 2011 Global Game Jam committee members are Zuraida Butler (Netherlands), Foaad Khosmood (UC Santa Cruz, United States), Gorm Lai (Denmark), and Ian Schreiber (United States). There are 50 locations across the United States planning to participate in the jam this year.

For general information about the Global Game Jam, visit globalgamejam.org.