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Game On

UAlbany hosting Global Game Jam

Participants of last year's Global Game Jam gather after the awards ceremony. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (Jan. 18, 2017) — This weekend computer gamers, from hobbyists to professional developers, will gather on campus for a marathon creative session. And when it’s all over on Sunday, the world should have a handful of brand new computer games.

The University is hosting the regional leg of the Global Game Jam, an annual worldwide event for computer game enthusiasts to gather, learn from each other and create together. Last year there were more than 600 game jam locations in 93 countries, and more than 6,800 games were created.

“This exciting event brings together students, professionals and community members from a wide variety of backgrounds and skill sets, emphasizing rapid prototyping, problem solving and collaboration,” said Michael C. Leczinsky, an Information Science instructor who is helping to run the event. “The University at Albany and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences are proud to play a role as a host for this international event again this year.”

UAlbany has been a host site since 2009, the first year of the Global Game Jam (GGJ), which is organized by the International Game Developer’s Association. That year about 40 people participated at UAlbany. This year, more than 60 are expected.

“The jam is open to all skill levels – no experience required,” said Jon Meschino, a programmer at 1st Playable Productions, a Troy-based game development company involved with the Albany jam. “The overall objective of GGJ is to just get together to create, learn new skills, and meet new people.”

At all GGJ sites worldwide, participants gather Friday evening for a keynote address, when the theme for the game is announced. Attendees divide into groups to begin brainstorming ideas and developing them. On Saturday, the teams meet from 9 a.m. until midnight to work on their games, which can be digital or tabletop. On Sunday, the teams present their projects, and the weekend winds up with an awards ceremony.

“Many popular video games have been the brainchild of the Global Game Jam,” Meschino said. “It is even more rewarding when teams stick together post-jam and take their games to completion and a full release on popular consoles and PC. One widely popular game (available just about everywhere) is Surgeon Simulator, which was created in 2013 GGJ.”

Two games created at UAlbany jams that went on to commercial production are Fade: Case of the Stolen Diamonds, which was originally the 2011 GGJ game Fade; and Doodle Fail, which was originally the 2015 GGJ game What Do We Draw Now?

The jam, which will be held in the Business Administration building, BA229, is open to people 16 years old and up, although those under 18 have to have an adult present while on campus. The fee is $16 online, or $20 at the door, and meals and snacks are provided. UAlbany students get a $4 discount. For more information, visit the website.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.