We Be Jamming Montreal Style

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From January 23rd to the 25th I participated in the Global Game Jam at a site in Montreal. I spent the majority of my weekend at ISART Digital’s Montreal Campus. I spent 72 hours making a game, eating large amounts of Domino’s pizza and muffins, and drinking pop, soda, whatever you call it. And I also drank coffee, still don’t like it.

For those that don’t know, the Global Game Jam is a worldwide event that takes place at physical meeting places for 72 hours. People come together and driven by a prompt, make the best game they can. It’s an event open for anyone who wants to make a game, whether they have never made one before or they make games for a living. The prompt can vary. This year it was a question, last year a statement. Two years ago it was an audio clip of a heartbeat. That was a fun one.

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Before that weekend, I had no idea the ISART Digital was based in Paris and that they had an abroad campus in Montreal similar to Champlain. The difference is that their main campus is more than 2 hours away. After that weekend I became friends with some of the International French students.

I signed up for the event near the last minute. I tried signing up before at a different site, but it was full. Eventually I found an opening at the ISART Digital site. I tried to get others to come with me, but most had a class scheduling conflict. I did get one friend to join in. But he forgot to officially sign up so in the end I was left alone surrounded by native French speakers. It worked out better than I thought it would.

Last semester I went to Montreal International Games Summit or MIGS. It was there that I meet Hugo Valery, a student in game design. We exchanged contact info and went our separate ways exploring the rest of MIGS. The night before the game jam, I sent him an email saying I would be at the ISART site for the Global Game Jam, not really expecting him to respond. He did, and he was also going to be at ISART for the jam.

I found him at the game jam and he introduced me to all his friends that were there. Turns out he and all of his friends were students at ISART. As more people showed up he introduced me to them. One of them found out I went to Champlain and mentioned that he had a student starting to intern for the company shortly. I asked him what company and he said that they used to be known as Funcom. That’s when we realized that I was the student that would be starting to intern there later in the week.

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The presentation started. Hugo translated for me anything that was spoken in French. Our prompt for this year was “What do we do now?” It was fitting, because I had no idea what I was doing the moment I walked in to the Global Game Jam being the only non French speaking person in the room. Hugo said there was no reason to worry, since there would be no time to worry once we started making the game.

I teamed up with Hugo and a few of his friends. The most exciting dynamic of the team was that two of the members couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak French. I did feel bad that the rest of the team could speak much better English that I could French, but then I learned that they have been learning English for 11 years, where I have only been learning for 6 months. Still, I did feel bad.

The next 72 hours consisted of us working together building a fun little puzzle platformer. Eating pizza and Five Guys. And getting to know each other. It was an adventure, one that I would do again in a heartbeat.

Here’s a link to the game:
https://globalgamejam.org/2015/games/owls-eye

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