Reliving the Monster Game Jam 2014 in transforma bxl

31/12/2014

Reliving the Monster Game Jam 2014 in transforma bxl

By Andrea di Stefano,

On November 22nd and 23rd, a unique event took place at Transformabxl, the MONSTER GAME JAM. What’s a game jam? It’s a two-day event (sometimes shorter, sometimes longer) where a bunch of participants assemble in teams to create video games. The concept is similar to hackathons, start up weekends and so on. It’s a pretty steep challenge considering that the usual time frame for the development of a game usually goes from 6 month to 5 (or more!) years.

While a few game jams are taking place yearly in Belgium, mostly in Flanders, The MONSTER GAMEJAM marks the first event of this type to happen in the capital…and well, it was about time!

You see, not much is happening in Brussels in regards to game development (“gamedev”): the talent is here, both in the tech and art departments, the city is attractive and there are examples of successful video games developers in Belgium…just not in Brussels, yet.

The whole project was born quite naturally. A few months ago I was in the need to broaden my network of game developers and the best way to do so that I could think was to start BROTARU, a monthly gathering of gamedev people. It started small and now it attracts 50+ people each time: further proof that there is interest for gamedev in Brussels. One thing lead to the other and the next logical step was to get people working together by setting up a game jam.

Furthermore, these gamedev things attracted the attention of screen.brussels (http://www.screenbrussels.be/), a public media cluster with the mission to support initiatives in the IT and Media space. Turns out they were pretty excited about BROTARU and the MONSTER GAMEJAM and helped me (and still do) to make these events happen.

Anyway, back to the game jam.

51 people got together on Saturday 10am with their game making gear: programmers, artists, designers, sound designers and even one brave journalist who decided to live the life of a gamedev for a weekend!

Technology (3D, 2D, software…) and platform (PC, mobile, console…) were totally free, same goes for team composition. Most participants already defined their team beforehand (friends, colleagues, etc.) while others teamed-up with strangers. Some went with 6-people teams, other went solo.

The event was kick-started by an intro session to pay proper credit to our sponsors : transforma bxl, scree.brussels and Unity, who kindly donated a 1500€ one year license as a prize for the best game. It was also the time to announce the theme of the game jam: “inner mechanics”, intended as anything that has to do with inner workings: biological, social, mechanical… very much open to interpretation.

Then, the game development itself started and lasted around 36h, with all participants pulling an all-nighter or sleeping under their desks for a few hours (quite literally).Everyone was free to organize their work schedule as long the goal was met: provide a playable game by Sunday 5pm.

At that time, all participants were asked to upload their game to an online repository and present it in front of a crowd of participants and visitors (around 30 people joined to attend the presentation).

12 games were presented and you can see them here: http://itch.io/jam/monster-gamejam

After the presentation each team had one hour to test each other’s games and rate them based on five criteria: idea, gameplay, graphics, sound, theme match.

The best-rated game and winner of the 1500€ Unity license was SOS-Piano by Guillaume Bouckaert, Xan Harotin and Julien Mizac.

After a small drink, it was time for everyone to go back home and recuperate from the lack of sleep and extreme gamedev rush.

All in all this was a great couple of days and certainly a wonderful step in making game development more relevant in Brussels. My personal effort will continue on a monthly basis with BROTARU and in 2015 with other events/game jams…people are already rising up to help so I expect many great thing to happen in the near future for game development in Brussels!

Last but not least, many super huge thanks to transforma bxl which contributed big time in making the MONSTER GAMEJAM unforgettable for everyone involved (hopefully in a good way ^^. Everyone loved the place and it gave the event a unique and timeless feel.

You can see more pictures from the event on transforma bxl’s Facebook page:

MONSTER GAMEJAM is the first GameJam to be organised in Brussels, it was organized by the great Andrea Di Stefano in transforma bxl on the 22 and 23 of November 2014.

Posté par transforma bxl sur samedi 29 novembre 2014

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