Video Game Jam tasks people to build a game in 48 hours
"Game on!”— video gaming enthusiasts got down to the serious business of fun in a two-day Video Game Jam, a first for north Louisiana. The video game competition brought together dozens of amateur gamers, ages 12 to 45, to develop their own video game. Video Game Jam was a feature event at DigiFest South 2012, a digital media showcase and technology expo held in Bossier City, Louisiana on September 7th-9th.
Fueled by caffeine and armed with game development tools like Unity3d and GameMaker, gamers worked intently over the next 48 hours to develop video games based on the theme Daily Grave.
Nolan Baker, a software engineer with the Academy-award winning Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana, helped coordinate and run the video game competition. As an avid participant in game design competitions himself, Baker believed North Louisiana was ripe for such an event. Shreveport-Bossier represents the fastest growing digital media hub in the nation, attracting a cache of young, hip technology workers, recruited from across the country.
“The game developers ran the gamut, from adolescents to more experienced gamers. Some were completely new to the process while others are incredibly talented and experienced in game development. All of them were enthusiastic and ready to get started,” said Baker.
As the video jam progressed, alliances organically formed between the gamers. Twelve year olds Paul Gagneau of Houma, La. and Keegan Cody of Benton, La. teamed up for the jam. Both teens want to pursue careers as video game developers.
“One day I hope to become a famous video game creator and make a lot of them,” Gagneau said. “So I came to learn something about the process.”
Cody added, “My mom told me about this, and I was glad to come.”
The competition drew participants from around the country, looking to hone their skills or learn the latest in gaming technology. DigiFest South also offered workshops by such notable industry experts as Jason Goodman with 21st Century 3D, an internationally recognized innovator of 3-D technologies.
“I came to DigiFest looking to learn more about animation. Get some tools of the trade to help me expand on that knowledge,” said Kelby McIntosh, a California native currently living in Shreveport.
B.J. Chavez of Waskom, Texas, said he was interested in the nuts and bolts of the technology.
“I came to the game jam so I can figure out what kind of programs they use and get a little bit of knowledge about it- kinda of get my foot in the door,” said Chavez.
Greg Dunn from Memphis traveled to DigiFest South to participate in the Video Game Jam. He was pleased to find such a competition fairly close to home.
“I’ve never built a game in 48 hours. I’ve never participated in a game jam-type situation. You always learn a lot from people you’re working with and get inspired by the things that you see other people doing,” said Dunn.
After two grueling yet exciting days, the winners of the Video Game Jam were announced. Shreveport brothers Ron and Max De Benedetti, along with fellow Shreveporter Phillip Mathis, won with what the judges called a “simple yet addictive game.”
“Our game was almost a reverse form of the classic game Frogger,” said Mathis, the artist on the team. It featured a tombstone named Rip, and he tries to ease the pain of zombies by laying them to rest.”
“The game jam is an amazing opportunity,” said Max De Benedetti. “The short time limit really forces you to get in there and make a game. This was basically my first game so I’m very glad it won.”
Ron De Beneditti added, “I’ve never actually made a game with a team before, so it was nice to learn how to work collaboratively.”
You can play their game here
The space key drops the tombstone, the shift key changes the direction of the platforms, and clicking anywhere on the screen after you land on the zombie will reset the game with a faster speed. Another Video Game Jam is planned for the next DigiFest South.