Entertainment & Life

Create your own video game this weekend at global jam

Participants in the 2017 Global Game Jam in Elk Grove.
Participants in the 2017 Global Game Jam in Elk Grove. Briana Aea

If spending a weekend – and only one weekend – creating a video game sounds like your idea of a good time, then the upcoming Global Game Jam may be right up your 8-bit alley.

Video games are, of course, normally developed over much, much longer periods of time. But this weekend the 10th Global Game Jam comes to Sacramento, bringing a tight 48-hour development cycle limit along with it. The local Sacramento site – which is participating in the event along with other locations across the globe – is being hosted by Square One Clubs.

The game jam starts off Friday evening. A theme – last year’s was wave – is revealed for people to focus on. There are also diversifiers: Other optional factors that can be used for extra difficulty. This year’s diversifiers include using cardboard as art, creating all sounds for the game using human voices or bodies, or localizing the game into multiple languages. And while other events may pit teams against each other, the Global Game Jam isn’t a competition.

“It’s really more about getting people out there to actually develop games and then hopefully following through, you know, doing something with that game,” Nathan Allshouse, president and CEO of Square One Clubs, says.

“There’s no awards, there’s no prizes, the participation is really what it’s all about, and being a part of something that’s that large and global,” he added.

Usually, participants at the Sacramento event break up into different teams. Allshouse acknowledges that the time limit is a interesting challenge.

“When you have all the time in the world and unlimited resources, a lot of times you’ll kind of, you know, either second guess yourself, or you’ll refine a product to the point where it’s not even anywhere near what your original concept was, and that is sometimes good and ... sometimes bad,” Allshouse says.

Participants don’t have to be high-level coders to join in the event, either: People without any video-game making skills are welcomed.

“The Global Game Jam is one of the best ways to get started, because it’s not a huge commitment,” Allshouse says. “You can come out, you can spend, you know, (a) couple days with us and you can make a game and see if that’s something for you, see if you really like it, and so we’ve actually had a lot of people kind of join our community through this one event.”

Global Game Jam

When: opens at 4 p.m. on Friday, ends Sunday

Where: Square One Clubs. 9342 Tech Center Drive. Suite #600.

Cost: Free

Info: globalgamejam.org