stl game jam

The Geek’s Guide to Surviving the Global Game Jam

Welcome! If you are reading this, you’ve probably heard about “that Global Game Jam thing”, and think it sounds cool and maybe you want to try it. You have chosen wisely! It is cool and you will enjoy yourself. That said, I’ve compiled a list of tips so that you can make the Global Game Jam an even better experience.

What is the Global Game Jam, exactly?

The Global Game Jam is a weekend of 48 solid hours of game-making awesomeness. You arrive on Friday, watch the keynotes, learn the theme, and divide up into teams and spend the weekend creating a game around that theme. The 2013 Global Game Jam will start at 5pm (in your time zone) on January 25th and goes for ~48 hours through January 27, 2013. For more detailed info, check out the STL Game Jam FAQ and Global Gam Jam FAQ.

What kinds of games can we create?

All kinds! I’ve helped create a traditional platformer in the spirit of the original NES, a flash game about kitties catching rainbow scales, and a geocaching Whereigo smartphone game about zombies. And it’s not just limited to video games — you can also create a board game or a card game during the Global Game Jam.

I’m not a programmer.

You don’t have to be! I’m a writer, and I help with story concepting, character creation, and dialogue scripting. Artists and animators, both 2D and 3D, are always in demand to create a sleek-looking game. And if you know sound, you are golden — EVERYONE will want you on their team. But you don’t have to know any of those things. The Global Game Jam is about learning new skills and having fun.

Now, onward to tips on how to survive the Global Game Jam.


Take them. Go walk around outside for 10 minutes. Take deep breaths. Do something not related to video games for 20 minutes. Call your mother. Go on a food run. Watch cat videos on your phone. Game Jam is a totally intense and rewarding experience. Emphasis on intense. You are going to be in a confined space with a bunch of other people, and all of you will be short on sleep, energy, and privacy. There’s no shame if you have to unplug your brain for a few minutes so you don’t go on a rampage.


Eat it. Game Jam is the kind of intense experience where it’s easy to put your head down and keep working and then surface for air and realize you haven’t eaten for 12 hours. Game Jam will often feed you some meals, but you should also bring some supplies of your own. Protein bars, fruit, beef jerky, trail mix, and peanut butter are good for protein, and you’ll want some of that. Sugar crashes are no fun, and less so during Game Jam.


Drink them. Coffee, tea and energy drinks will give you a quick hit of energy, and that’s useful, but be sure to drink some actual water to stay hydrated. Also think about packing actual fruit juice and vitamin water. Soda does not count.


Do it. Four hours at the minimum. Six is better. Or at least try to take 20-minute power naps every few hours.


Do it. Put soap on a washcloth, get it wet, and rub it all over your body. Brush your teeth, put on deodorant, change your clothing a few times over the course of the weekend. You’ll feel better, and your teammates will thank you.

Packing Suggestions:

– Laptop, netbook, tablet, or some kind of portable computer with WI-FI enabled
– Power cord and/or extra batteries
– Paper and pencil to write and draw with
– Other art supplies
– bottled water
– snacks
– caffeine (Protip: individual instant packs of coffee are amazing)

So, that’s it! Otherwise, show up, work hard, have fun! We’ll see you in a week at the 2013 Global Game Jam!

Caitlin Moriarity is a technology, pop culture and web content writer in St. Louis, MO. This is her second global game jam. You can find her at her website. Crossposted to the STL Game Jam website.

Posted by cm in Geek Saint Louis, 0 comments

2013 Is Already Booking Up Fast

I just updated my my Google calendar for the next three months, and I’m already exhausted just looking at it. In addition to my monthly meetups C4: Comic Creators Coffee Club and StartLouis, there are also a lot of local and regional events I’m interested in attending. We’ve got comics, anime, video games, and startups:

Plus, we’ve got the C4 comic anthology deadline on Feb. 6, and then I have to edit that book and get it printed. Rocketbot has a comic anthology that I want to submit to, with a deadline in early February as well. And I’ve been wanting to start going to the STL WordPress Meetup (I keep missing it, and WordCamp was so fun).

Clearly I need to find a way to clone myself.

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The August 2012 St. Louis Game Jam: Let the Games Begin

Another third of the year, another game jam. Woo!

We kicked off with our new and improved team sorting method — the programmers divide up by language, then they grab the artists, then teams recruit designers so teams are balanced by skill.

Once again, we were short on audio/sound people, so the three guys with that skillset grabbed a corner, dubbed themselves “The Sound Department” and set up a workflow and went around to all the teams to find out what sounds and music they would need.

I’m on a team doing a geocaching location-based text and image game built on Whereigo, for smartphones. We are still hashing out the “spine” of the game, but when that’s ready, I will be writing a LOT of descriptions — characters, items, locations and actions.

I’m super pleased to see that way more fellow ladies showed up for this game jam as compared to previous game jams. More ladies in game development and tech, always a good thing.

This post was crossposted to the STL Game Jam blog here.

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St. Louis Game Jam Fun But Needs More Lady Game Devs

The Saint Louis Game Jam this weekend kicked off with a bang.  After arriving at the Simutronics offices, all the participants (about 60 of us, all told), crowded into the conference room for the ritual drawing of the theme.  The noun picked was “Justice”, and the adjective was “Light” — so our theme this weekend was “Light Justice.”  Sounds like an Internet meme to me.  🙂

We then divided ourselves up by specialities — programming, art, design, and miscellaneous (where I, as a writer, ended up).  Then we put together our teams for the weekend.

(Photo credit by Dave B.) The team I was on, led by Simutronics staffers Elonka Dunin and Jen Patton, tossed around ideas and came up with the bare bones idea of a platformer, where a cat finds scales scattered by a rainbow trout god, which we presented to the Game Jam (under the name Team Rainbow Killer).  And then we buckled down and got to work.

We further refined our game idea.  We went with a Japanese motif, and you control a white cat that is catching the rainbow scales that are falling off of the rainbow trout god, and restoring the scales.  Periodically, a black cat will run across the screen and knock more scales off of the rainbow trout god, for the white cat to try to catch.

The name we came up with for the game is Scales of Justice.

I will quote you the game intro text, which yours truly wrote:

“In the dawn of the world, legend tells of the rainbow trout god, Nijimasu-sama, who controlled all the colors of light, keeping each color safe and tucked away in his scales.

Until one day, the trickster cat Fusei, stole away Nijimasu-sama’s scales, scattering them across the land.

Fusei’s sibling, Kouhei, swore to recover Nijimasu-sama’s scales, and restore justice to the world.

You are Kouhei, seeking out and collecting the missing scales of each color, returning them to Nijimasu-sama.

But beware! Fusei is not through making mischief!  He continues to attack Nijimasu-sama, scattering more scales for Kouhei to find.”

Our team coded the game in Flash.  The game has nine levels, since cats have nine lives.  🙂

And now it’s Sunday morning, our game is up and running, our team is play testing it and tweaking the game play.  In a few hours, we’ll show off our finished game to the rest of the game jammers.

This is my second game jam, and I enjoyed it more this time around, since I knew what to expect.  I like the game, Mobius, that I worked on at the January Global Game Jam, but I like Scales of Justice more — it’s a more fun game, and has better gameplay than Mobius, in my opinion.

Overall, I like game jams and intend to do more of them in the future.

One thing I did find disappointing, though, was that there were not many other women participating in the Game Jam.  It was the same at the January Game Jam as well.  I would love to see more fellow women get involved in events like this, and in the game development industry in general.  Part of it might have been the timing — this Game Jam was scheduled for the same weekend as Anime STL. I actually attended Anime STL on Saturday and talked to the staff of Happy Badger Studio, an indie game and app development studio here in town.  The two staffers, both women, admitted that they would have attended the Game Jam if they hadn’t already been committed to presenting and manning a booth at Anime STL.  (Happy Badger Studio did the official Anime STL app for both iPhone and Android.)

So yes, I’m hoping to persuade more women to participate in future Game Jams.

Otherwise, I’m looking forward to the next St. Louis Game Jam, in August!

Crossposted to the STL Game Jam website.

Posted by cm in Geek Saint Louis, 0 comments