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Over 90 Jam Their Way Into Games at the Phoenix Global Game Jam 2016

Apparently, more people want to get into games than I originally thought. On January 29th-31st, Game CoLab hosted the Phoenix Global Game Jam 2016 at the University of Advancing Technology (UAT) and we were looking forward to a good turnout of 30-40 game makers. We ended up with over 90!

The UAT theater was full on Friday night as we outlined what a game jam was , who this event's sponsors were and the theme. This year's Global Game Jam was expected to be massive with over 600 locations across all continents hosting over 30,000 jammers who would make over 5,000 games adhering to one theme. Of course, it was the theme that the game makers sitting in the theater cared about most. This year's theme was "ritual".

Once the theme was revealed the game makers ran to form teams and stake their territory in the UAT Commons, where they would work for the next 48 hours. By Sunday afternoon, 21 games were made. This was amazing!

Nine of the games even featured eye tracking technology thanks to one of the sponsors, Tobii Technology, a Swedish high-tech company that develops and sells products for eye control and eye tracking. There were so many games, and they were so engaging, that when the judges came on Sunday they needed an extra hour from what was planned to play them all.

Finally, winners were chosen and Deco Racing won first place ($300), Space Diplomat one second place ($150) and Firfox won third place ($50). All three of the winning teams also won Axosoft Premium plans, copies of the game Never Alone and copies of the documentary Game Loading: Rise of the Indies. If you'd like to play these and the other 19 games they're available for download here. Tobii also offered generous cash prizes for teams that built their games with eye tracking compatibility.

We were truly amazed by the talent, passion and camaraderie that showed up over the weekend. We want to acknowledge and congratulate the Phoenix video game development community for their hard work.

Phoenix Vice Mayor Daniel Valenzuela came to play games!

We would also like to thank the judges who gave their time on a Sunday afternoon to play so many experimental games. Judges included Phoenix Vice Mayor Daniel Valenzuela, Phoenix Film Commissioner Phil Bradstock, Mark Carr (City of Phoenix), Parrish Spisz (City of Tempe), Demetrius Comes (GoDaddy), Tristan Moore (Tobii), Collin Sellman (Pearson), Retha Hill (ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism) Amilyn Pierce (Onverse), Matt Quirk (Get Quirked!) and Alan Lobock (SkyMall and Worthworm).

We would also like to thank the sponsors for their generosity that contributed so much to the success of the event by providing prizes and food. This year's sponsors were UAT, Tobii, GoDaddy, Axosoft, E-Line Media and StudioBento.

Steven Crane and Austin Shamp executed an awesome event.

Thank you to Christopher Silavong from the Arizona Republic who wrote an awesome article on the event and was much more timely with this words than me. The story, Young developers make video games in 48 hours at the Phoenix Global Game Jam, came out the day after and captured the vibe and excitement of the event perfectly. Make sure to give it a read.

Finally, thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers! This was the smoothest run jam we've ever had. Austin Shamp and Steven Crane's planning, organization and marketing carried the jam to new heights. Next time will be a walk in the park.

The Game CoLab relies on donations and volunteer work to carry out events like the Global Game Jam. Whether you took part in the jam or not, we invite you to purchase a game jam T-shirt or Game CoLab T-shirt. The portion of the money that doesn't go to Amazon goes directly into our efforts to get people into games.

Missed the game jam, or had so much fun hanging with us you want to do it more, sign up on our Meetup page. Our next event is our Happy Hour at Boondocks Patio & Grill in downtown Scottsdale on February 26th from 6-8pm. If you're working on a game, or want to sell a game you've made, bring it along! RSVP here.

We've also got awesome news coming down the pipeline about our next Arizona Video Game Showcase that we'll be hosting at this year's Phoenix Comicon from June 2nd-5th, so mark your calendars and get ready to meet and play games from Arizona video game developers. We had a blast last year and this time it's going to be even bigger!

Finally, if you're looking for game talent or to fill a need on your project, check out the Game CoLab Jobs Directory on Facebook.

Thanks for supporting us and our mission to empower and unite video game developers in Arizona and beyond.

Cheers, Ben

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