Home hits gamers’ hearts in Humber’s 2019 Global Game Jam

by | Jan 30, 2019 | Biz/Tech, North

Clement Goh, Senior Reporter

Computers screens illuminated  a concrete grey hall, creating a sea of colours at Humber’s own Global Game Jam event. Fingers tapped at glowing keyboards. Lines of code spilled across every person’s screen while some turned virtual houses around to make sure every detail was sharp.

This year, the 2019 Global Game Jam announced its theme to the entire world at 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 26. In various institutions around the world, aspiring game developers were given 48 hours to create a working prototype based on “what home means to you.”

At Humber’s North campus, students in the Game Programming Advanced Diploma started their journey in groups. More than 137 “jammers” signed up for this year’s Jam, and teams spent their Friday night working on their dream projects.

In a self-motivated setting, jammers worked closely with each other and connected with ideas of belonging. 

Many also fit homes into their game’s story.

Kwasi Asante works on a video game during the Global Game Jam on Jan. 26 at Humber College’s North campus. (Jaeybee Boiser Martinito)

“Part of it is the fact you can make it rather infinite,” said Dustin Brown, a jammer, and first year Game Programming student. 

Brown’s team looked producing an endless-style role playing game that sees the player leaving home and earning money with a career. If out of money, the player returns home using family as maternal and financial comfort to reload.

“Because we only have a limited amount of time, right? You can’t cram a lot of content into what you have so the more perpetual — the more procedural it is — the bigger you can make your game with less effort and less code,” said Brown, who kept his fingers busy typing code and mashing with a controller.

Kevin Santos, a third year student in Game Programming, agreed with his team that colours were a visual sign of belonging. In his 2D puzzle platformer, the player controls a shape finding its way back home. 

Curtis Squire reviews the coding of a game during the Global Game Jam at Humber College’s North Campus on Jan. 26. (Jaeybee Boiser Martinito)

“You kind of relate with it,” said Santos, taking a moment to look at the shape on his work screen. 

“It’s kind of alone in this world and it’s all greyscale” in afilm-noir style, he said. “There’s no life to it, and you just want to see it succeed and want to get it back to where it feels most comfortable.”

As an opportunity to create, the Jam encourages students to act on long-invested projects. In two-days, some games — such as Surgeon Simulator released in 2013 — are published into full independent titles.

“The 48 hours is a good motivation for the students to get to their most passionate ideas, and to really run with it,” said Umer Noor, a professor and Game Programming coordinator. 

“Because they know they don’t have that much time, so it helps them forget the projects, the assignments, the exams and all the stress that’s at Humber being a student and just focus on something they’re passionate about and to be innovative” said Noor, expressing his gratitude for students using their skills on their own time.

“Also, it’s not a competition. It’s more of an experience. You’ll see students walking around, helping each other and just trying new things,” he said.