I am not a gamer but I went to Global Game Jam 2017

 In Events, iGaming

have a confession to make… I am not a gamer myself, never really understood the pleasure of sitting hours and hours in front of the PC eating junk food and shooting monsters.

My definition of gaming postulated on three (unsupported) assumptions:

1. Gaming boils down to maniacal shooting of monsters for endless period of time.

2. Gaming is a waste of time, destroying creativity.

3. And, these gaming events… Who would willingly stare into the screen for 48 hours deprived from sleep, looking like one of the dark-eyed monsters in the video game. And for what? A mere chance to sell your game? Please.

Global Game Jam

That being said, the next thing I will say may shock you…

I went to Global Game Jam 2017. And that is not all. I had a great time. No, I am not kidding. Can you imagine what happened?

Don’t be silly, I didn’t win, didn’t even compete. As a shy intruder, I was on the sidewalk, observing, when suddenly…


All my gaming world prejudices got smashed within 48 hours.

1. Brute force won’t work here

It turns out, gaming is a lot more than shooting monsters. The winning team “Wave Master” of Game Jam Skopje 2017 elegantly showed it with a game that needs a little bit of logic and sense of geometry to win.

They developed a puzzle game where you use waves to push bogus planets in various black holes. Each wave spreads and modifies depending on the surface it comes in contact with. You must calculate your win within 3 attempts to move on to the next level, otherwise, you must restart the level and try again. The levels have a natural progression from easy to difficult as you move forward.

2. Creativity breeds creativity

This years’s topic of GGJ2017 was WAVES giving the participants full freedom on how they interpret this five-letter word. Simple at first sight, the topic had depth and complexity challenging the creativity of gamers.

However, they wouldn’t be here, if they hadn’t been up for the challenge.

Do you know how much humor, creativity and even philosophy go into the games you play?

Not to mention passionate discussions (read “fights”) over different ideas, beautiful designs, witty micro-copies, dramatic and comic sounds and so much more.

Game development

The creators presented waves in different shapes from ocean tide, color spectrum, streams of light, sound waves, blasts of air, to surge of enemies (which in one case took the form of vegetables zombies), and even flows of spiritual energy.

What was that thing I said about gaming killing creativity? Scratch that.

Don’t believe me? See the full list of 7169 developed games across 702 jam sites.

3. In it to win it or… NOT!

GGJ winners 2017
Winners of GGJ 2017

My perception was that the people participating in such events are either driven by a strong motivation to win the big money or have nothing better to do. Oh, how wrong I was. After all, I have only scratched the surface of this parallel universe of gaming. Learn from those who know the playground best:

Most of us have already been participating for several years in a row and the biggest motivator for it is definitely the atmosphere of the whole event. Of course there is also the added enjoyment of looking at the final products that we manage to accomplish in 48 hours. Everyone on our team is a gamer at heart; we’ve been, and still are, playing all kinds of games, so knowing that we have an opportunity to create our own game is very motivating. Also just being here in the same place with so many creative developers, artists, designers and musicians is an amazing experience in itself. — Vladimir Popovski, member of the winning team “Wave Master”

For one of my colleagues, game development was the key reason he got into the coding world in the first place. Getting his idea on the market has never been his primary motivation for participating.

I always end up learning something new and gain great experience. — says Aleksandar Stefanovski, Junior Software Engineer at Singular


4. What makes a game good?

Games mechanics is the key — a game should be easy to learn, but difficult to master. Other criteria according to which the games were ranked: the creativity around the topic, platform applicability, game concept and game potential— says Darko Gacov, Head of Business Development at Singular who was part of the gaming committee.

For those unfamiliar with the event, Global Game Jam is an international 48 hours marathon for creating games taking place once a year on several locations in the world.

The impressions and games described above are retrieved from the GGJ2017 that took place in my home country, Macedonia, on two locations: Skopje and Bitola.

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