From Thursday to Saturday marked one of the biggest events of the study abroad, the game jam. The jam was to be held in the University’s GamesLab and would have all of us RIT students working with the German students together. About 60 students showed up to the event, a number that astounded me. We were given the topic of “trans-Atlantic friendship” with an emphasis on something for small screens. We were broken off into small groups of 3 or 4 to first brainstorm potential game ideas with this theme in mind. My group came up with the idea that I would eventually end up working on for the jam. After brainstorming time, each group put their idea on the board and everyone voted for their favorite ideas. The few with the most votes then had teams built around them via volunteering, with slight adjustments made to try and balance both American and German students per team, and programmers and artists per team.
It was then that we all began to get with our teams to start hacking out our game. My team’s game was the aforementioned brainstormed one, Food Friends. The idea was that one of the biggest ways to share culture with those from another country is through food. So the premise of the game is you have iconic food from various countries falling from the top of the screen and people form different countries (denoted by wearing flags of their country as capes) on the bottom eating the food. You have to ensure that you the people eat food NOT from their country (so as to encourage sharing food of cultures) otherwise the person would get fat and explode. A rather simple game fit for smartphones and the like.
Despite the early frustrations including the sad prospect of my work possibly not even making it into the game, our team really went into overdrive on the final day of the game jam. Like true programmers, we all switched into crunch mode and got all of our core design and features into the game. The “art department” also did great work all through the jam and delivered to us assets we instantly got in. Our work continued to the last second of the jam before presentations.
During the presentations I was amazed to see all of the really implementations of the winning ideas from the other teams. The game jam really made me remember why I applied for the GDD program at RIT in the first place and rekindled a dying flame in my heart, so to speak. The jam had ups and downs, but in the end we had something to be proud of, and we even won fan favorite and the honor of presenting our game to King when we were to go to Berlin and visit them. (My only regret to winning was that it meant we had to keep working on the game after the jam.) This was my favorite part of the study abroad, and an experience I won’t soon forget.