I spent the last weekend in January participating in the first Global Game Jam at New York’s Columbia University (there were 1,650 participants at 54 locations in 23 countries in all, including a group at New York University). Now that I’ve recovered from too many Doritos and soda I can say it was great to see what pickup teams could co-create in a 48-hour flat-out sprint.

Though our game Skitzo didn’t win top honors – rightly so for it was only partly finished by the time the whistle blew on Sunday – the experience alone was worth it.

While normal development cycles leave at least some time for mid-course corrections, working under the tight constraints of the Game Jam magnified every flaw in planning and execution a thousand fold. Clive Thomas made a similar observation in his WIRED post Sweet Success, Fascinating Failure this week:

The weird thing is, the process wasn’t that different from making a game in two or three years. The Game Jam designers all slammed headfirst into precisely the same Mount Everest-like challenges that “pro” game designers complain about. Indeed, if you watch the Game Jam people scramble around groggily for a weekend, you can understand much better why so many commercial games succeed – and why so many go down in flames […] I feel bound to note that all of the games I saw being developed seemed like extremely fun concepts. For all the ones that couldn’t quite get it together to have a fully polished entry finished on time, I suspect that another 24 hours – or even a decent night of sleep for the poor developers – would have been enough to make them as playably fun as their rivals.(complete post here…)

I’m sure my teammates will drink to that. And kudos to every one of them for sticking with it to the end: Darkin Brown, Marion Duignan, Johannes Kraemer, Pazit Levitan, Stephen Mei, Julian Oddman, Antonius Savaranos, Christina Willson. Let the games continue!

>> Click here for all games developed at Columbia University

>> Click here for all games developed at New York University