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Sunderland’s spark of creativity for global game jam

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Published on 06 March 2018

Undergraduates from the Games Software Developmentas well as Animation and Games Art degrees took part in The Global Game Jam (GGJ)
Undergraduates from the Games Software Developmentas well as Animation and Games Art degrees took part in The Global Game Jam (GGJ)

Undergraduates from the Games Software Developmentas well as Animation and Games Art degrees took part in The Global Game Jam (GGJ) in January, which sees participants from countries around the world gather to develop ideas, form small groups, create new, creative, innovative games, and present them to their peers and the global community, all condensed into a 48-hour development cycle. The event encourages people with all kinds of backgrounds to participate and contribute to this global spread of game development and creativity.

The structure of a jam is usually that everyone gathers on Friday late afternoon, watches a short video keynote with advice from leading game developers, and then a secret theme is announced. All sites worldwide are then challenged to make games based on that same theme, with games to be completed by Sunday afternoon. Last year’s event saw 700 locations in 95 countries create over 7,000 games in one weekend. The jam is known for helping foster new friendships, increase confidence and opportunities within the community.

This is the 10th anniversary of GGJ and the theme this year was ‘Transmission’. Two teams from Sunderland, which included participants from first through to final Year students, took two different avenues to creating their games, which are now available to play online:

Download link to Sparky

Download link to Beacon

‘Beacon’ involves a character (the player) navigating through and avoiding light. Features involve Radio/Radio Frequency, Light and Sound.

Sparky: a sentient spark is brought to life by pure chance on an abandoned ship during a storm. The player follow his escape from the ship into the wider world, where he'll have many adventures! In this 2D puzzle game the player will traverse, possess and dash from electrical object to electrical object making their way through the abandoned ship! However, if they stay away from a source of electricity for too long Sparky will fade away.

Adam Clayden, Senior lecturer in Sunderland Games Software Development, said: “All the students worked very well together to create the games, the experience was all about coming along and learning in a very relaxed environment.

“The jam offered them real-world experience and got them thinking outside of the box. The innovation and dedication was great to see, and I enjoyed how they worked together to allow their passion for developing games to flourish.

“Participating in events like this is crucial to developing their skills which are easily transferable to the software industry, it’s what they’d expect from a student. The course has a strong emphasis on real-world learning that boosts employability and equips you to make a bigger contribution in the workplace.”

The event is operated by the Global Game Jam, Inc., an international non-profit corporation based in California, with a mission to foster game design and game education through innovative events. 

Nationally, Brains Eden is the UK's largest international student game jam, now in its 10th year at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK and supported by some of the biggest games and technology companies in the world.

A team of five students from Sunderland will be heading to compete in Brains Eden in July.

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