Video game enthusiasts gather for game jam event

Video game enthusiasts gather for game jam event

Video game enthusiasts gather for game jam event

Ivy Christianson

Let the games begin.

The Iowa Game Dev Friendship Club held TIGJam Midwest on June 4-6 in Des Moines.

Josh Larson, ISU alumnus and assistant creator of God At Play, helped organize the gaming event.

“Basically, developers get together and develop

games over a weekend,” Larson said.

The event kicked off with speaker Alec Holowka, independent game developer from Infinite Ammo. Holowka was the main developer on “Aquaria,” an underwater ocean adventure game that won the grand prize at the Independent Game Festival in 2007. He spoke to participants about using purpose through their games. Afterward, a question and answer session was held and the event began.

Teams made up of programmers, animators, designers, musicians and artists worked until 3 p.m. Sunday to create a video game based on the given theme “proverbs.”

Larson said the teams made a variety of games, all teams having creative ideas.

“One team made a game based on ‘the early bird gets the worm’ proverb,” Larson said. “It was a racing, four-player game played with an XBox controller.”

Another game was hinged on the proverb, “birds of a feather flock together.” The object of the game was to collect birds to get them to move together.

Creating these games is not easy, though. Larson said the first day mostly consists of brainstorming.

“Trying to get something on the screen at all is one of the most important things,” he said. “You start with a square you can move on the screen with arrow keys. Little things like that can be surprisingly difficult.”

Teams continue to add small elements while simultaneously fixing minor problems that tend to arise during the creation process.

The 35-40 people in attendance were mostly from Iowa, some being college students, some being professionals and others were simply game enthusiasts.

A team from 8monkey Labs, a game developing company headed up by Larson and three other ISU graduates, also took part in the event. Larson said the 8monkey Labs group and all other teams are really just looking to try new ideas and experiment with new designs during gaming events.

At this game jam, developers tried a new tool from Budcat Creations called Unity. The Unity tool allows creators to prototype games quickly, giving them the ability to see what they’ve done and to learn from it as well.

Although the game jam may seem competitive, the main focus of the event is to have fun and work with new designs.

“We just sort of develop whatever and show it off,” Larson said.

Other game jam events are held throughout the year, this jam being the third this year. Larson said the events are open to the public, and encourages students to attend upcoming jams if interested.