NSS Students Attend Global Game Jam

Feb 7, 2017
Mandy Arola

In January, teams around the world gathered for the Global Game Jam, the world’s largest game jam (creation) event. The weekend allows developers, illustrators, musicians, voice actors, and creatives of all types to come together and create a game in just 48 hours. Held at physical locations in over 90 countries, the Global Game Jam brings together diverse groups that collectively express themselves through the creation of games. During the hackathon, people are encouraged to try new technology tools and test their skills in design, development, creation, and testing. At the end of the weekend, teams walk away with new connections, new skills, and a working game.

Ten students from NSS Cohort 16 participated in Nashville’s Global Game Jam last month. These students used the weekend to step outside their comfort zone and squash their inner imposter syndrome. They teamed up with other developers, artists, musicians, and voice actors. They explored technologies like Unity, VR, and machine learning. They gained real world experience in teamwork, delegation, time management, and product management. In addition to working on their teams’ projects, they also floated to other teams to ask questions and offer help. The NSS students also learned new techniques and work strategies.

The Global Game Jam was an intense, but rewarding opportunity for learning new skills in a team environment. - Peter Staggs

The NSS students were a part of 3 different teams. Matthew McCord, Peter Staggs, Joey Kirby, and Steven Holmes joined with 2 others who created Japanese-style watercolor art to build an interactive novella, titled Waves ‘87: Business Cruizin’ with custom art and sound using a Python based graphic novel scripting engine. Ben Marks and Jack Pinkston worked with a Vanderbilt Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science who helped them apply machine learning and data analysis to their game Datamon, a Pokemon clone whose monsters use mathematical modelling techniques to do battle. Richard Whitfield and Drew Martin created a VR game using Unity and shared the demo video for their game We Wave In Peace.

Richard Whitfield shared, “I learned so much about what is possible over a weekend and the technologies involved in making games.” All of the NSS students who attended were excited about what they were able to build and learn at the Global Game Jam and many plan to attend again next year. We’re hoping a few lady gamers will join them.

Topics: Student Stories