Game jam a unique opportunity for collaboration

By Anna Wright

A screen shot from a video game created by New College students in a game Jam competition.
A screen shot from a video game created by New College students in a game Jam competition.

Coders, musicians and artists gathered last weekend to compete in an unusual event: A game jam.

“A game jam is basically a game design competition in which competitors have 48 hours to come up with a game, illustrate it, write, design it, and then code it and finish it, and then submit it,” explains Isaac Denner, an organizer of the event. “Our theme is start with nothing.” Denner is a third-year Russian AOC associated with the ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery club on campus.

Students worked solo or in teams all weekend in HCL8 to complete the games, and at least four games were submitted to the national competition, Ludum Dare 45.

Hunt Sparra, a third-year computer science student, described one: “We’re doing a game sort of like ‘Oregon Trail,’ where you are trying to travel to a piece of land your grandmother bequest to you, and along the way you stop at camps where you’re able to meet people and get supplies or make friends with them or recruit them and take them on the way.”

With such a broad theme, teams were able to design games around a variety of topics, from manic farming to friendship and survival. One team incorporated a personal narrative: “We were interested in identity and relationships,” said Freddie O’Brion, a third-year art AOC. “It’s a really interesting concept to explore these relationships that define our experiences. And then we were interested in an exploratory game, like the way in which your relationships with yourself and other people impact the world around you.”

The game jam provided a unique opportunity for collaboration between otherwise separated AOCs. When asked how they decided on a concept, second-year Kanti Gudur said, “We brainstormed a lot of different ideas, and through talking to each other, we honed it into the concept we are working on, which deals a lot with identity.”

“We were all talking at each other a lot and then it manifested in front of us,” said O’Brion. “We grabbed it and were like ‘this is our video game.’”

As part of the competition, the games are hosted online and voted on collectively. Go to ldjam.com to vote for your favorites.

— Anna Wright is an intern in the Office of Communications and Marketing at New College of Florida.


Located in Sarasota, New College of Florida has educated intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement since its founding in 1960. As the State of Florida’s designated honors college, New College provides an exceptional education that transforms students’ intellectual curiosity into personal accomplishment. The 110-acre campus on Sarasota Bay is home to more than 800 students and 80 full-time faculty engaged in interdisciplinary research and collaborative learning. New College offers nearly 40 areas of concentration for undergraduates and a master’s degree program in Data Science.

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