“Global Game Jam” Winners of Programming Competition Announced at SUSU

The Global Game Jam, a video game development competition, was held at the SUSU School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science January 31st through February 1st. The major worldwide contest was organized at SUSU for the seventh time already.

Participating in the Global Game Jam is the best way to start designing games, meet some like-minded people, and fulfil your experimental ideas. This year, South Ural State University has gathered more than 100 participants, 44 of whom are SUSU students.

During the first day of the event, an opening ceremony took place. The Global Game Jam participants were given 48 hours to team up and create a game from scratch simultaneously with more than 20 thousand programmers and those, who simply love computer games, from dozens of countries.

“The Global Game Jam is always a really special event that is held in an exciting and fascinating way each year. This event attracts a lot of people, including designers, artists, musicians, scriptwriters and representatives of many other professions. I hope that all the Global Game Jam participants will have great fun while participating in it and we, in our turn, will do our best to spark desire to create something new in their hearts,” says Gleb Radchenko, Director of the SUSU School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science.

Each year, the biggest IT companies and universities of the world act as the sponsors and organizers of the Global Game Jam: Epic Games, Facebook, Valve, MIT, California Polytechnic University. This year’s sponsors of the event at SUSU are well-known IT companies from Chelyabinsk and Ekaterinburg: SKB Kontur, TAPCLAP, ChelHack, ICVR, Napoleon IT, Duck Rockets and ODIN Games.

“Each year, students are creating unusual games. They can approach the tasks from different angles thinking outside of the box. This year, after we see the results of their works, we would like to invite the students to take internships,” says Aleksey Pomazkin, Producer of the Odin Games mobile games design company.

During the second day of the competition, the participants were working on the technical pattern of a game all day long. They drew illustrations and graphics for the games, wrote music, created scripts and programmed.

The organisers set a new common topic for every participant of the Global Game Jam all around the world each year. This time, the competition theme was the “Repair”. So, the participants would have to create a video game according to the topic within 48 hours.

“The Global Game Jam committee, which is located in America, sets the theme of the competition. Each time, they are trying to choose a topic that can be interpreted differently. For us, the word “repair” implies “renovation”, “development”, “restoration”, “reunion” and more. Thus, a team can create a game in its own manner, depending on their own understanding of this word,” says Ivan Volkov, organiser of the events at SUSU.

The specific features of the contest are the diversifiers, i.e. secondary topics that can be used while designing video games. Using such diversifiers, the participants get an opportunity to distinguish their game from the slew of other created games, and consequently increase their chances for winning.

Maksim Batyatin, a 2-nd year student of the SUSU School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, took part in the Global Game Jam for the third time and decided to make things more unusual and complex.

“I’m really into programming and this year I’m participating in two projects at once, namely I’m creating a game with my team and also my own one. For the second game I am using various programs which are not usually used. This will be a mobile game, where a phone is a joystick. For me, it is not about the winning, it is about participating.”

Not only young men but also young women actively engage themselves in the competition. One of them is Antonina Sharifulina, a Master’s student of the SUSU Institute of Architecture and Construction. She studies design and, in a year and a half, her graduation qualifying paper will be on computer game design. Antonina decided to take part in the Global Game Jam to gain experience and show her abilities in design.

“This is my first time participating in a video game competition. I do not consider this contest hard, since in the team I am responsible for the visual part and I enjoy doing it. My team and I are creating a game about a wrecked ship that needs to be restored. I really hope our work will be appreciated and we will take the first place.”

Students from other universities also take part in the Global Game Jam video game design contest at SUSU. Thus, Dmitry Butov, a 3-rd year student majoring in the Software Engineering programme at Chelyabinsk State University, participates for the second time. Last year, his team won the Audience Choice Award. This year, the students want to get the most out of the competition.

“Such events give me great experience in the field of software development. I like the idea of the participants having no boundaries in terms of choosing the tools for creating games. My friends and I, a team of three people, are designing a game on a simple platform. After the main part is ready, we will try to make it more difficult using different diversifiers.”

During the final day of the event, the participants presented 29 video games to the jury. Each team managed to design a complete game only within 48 hours. Each game was unique, filled with various characters, tasks, and, the most important, corresponded with the theme. The organizing committee highlighted the fact that this year all the games were created at a top-level.

According to the results of the contest, the most creative and talented among the 29 teams were distinguished. The sponsors of the event, as well as the representatives of the biggest IT companies of the region awarded these teams presents, and some of them were invited to take the internship. The list of the best teams can be found here. Also, the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science awarded certificates to the participants.

“Each year, the works greatly differ from each other. This year, for example, several games at once have been made available for the audience right after the demonstration. All those present had an opportunity to connect to the platform online and become the very first players. Also, there is a big number of 3D projects this year. That is because the technologies for developing 3D games do not require as much effort as before. Now they became much easier and allowed to create high-quality projects. I think the most important thing about the Global Game Jam lies in the sense of unity that brings together tens of thousands of developers around the world, with whom you design unique things,” sums up the results of the contest Gleb Rachenko, Director of the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science.

One of the participants of the competition was Nail Khaidarov, a graduate student of the SUSU Institute of Architecture and Construction, who shared his emotions.

“Most of all, this contest will be remembered for the cheerful and friendly atmosphere in the team. From generating the ideas to developing and presenting the games, we had great fun. Participating in such events provides students with opportunities to meet new people with similar interests, check what you are capable of, boost your skills in speed of work and communication in a team, understand your strong and weak spots. It is a real shakeup when you completely disconnect from the outside world for 48 hours and do what you love and what you are best at, working shoulder to shoulder with the like-minded people.”

The game “BIG RED BUTTON” by the Аleksandr Fedyashev’s team became the best project according to the TapClap sponsor. The participant noted that the Global Game Jam is neither a competition nor a contest. It is more about collaboration and unity. Aleksandr thinks it is really important to position such events properly in order to form correct idea and expectations.

“This is my third time in the Global Game Jam. The most remarkable moments, as usual, were the incredible atmosphere and, of course, the team. During the Jam, there is nothing but you and the game, on which you are working together with your team. That is why most of the memories and emotions are all about that. The opening and closing ceremonies are also quite exciting and pleasant, especially for the participants.
Everyone gets not only a positive charge and great atmosphere. For me, as a game designer, participation in the Global Game Jam gives a unique opportunity to boost my communication, design and team work skills, meet new people and get a load positive emotions over a short period of time.”

During the closing ceremony, all the participants were awarded certificates of participation and T-shirts from the ChelHack sponsor.

The Global Game Jam is a perfect way to learn how to develop video games, since both newbies and professionals can participate in it; and all the games of the past years, as well as their source codes are available on the GGJ official web site.

The games developed this year were also uploaded to the Global Game Jam web site with an open source code. This means that everyone can see how the game was created and even try to elaborate it. List of games can be found here. 

Marina Kovyazina, photo by Oleg Igoshin