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Tuesday 24 March 2015

Jammy students on a winning gaming streak

Southampton Solent University’s computer games students and staff recently took part in Global Game Jam (GGJ) 2015, the world’s largest game jam event.

This year an estimated 21,000 people took part in GGJ, which saw game designers from 78 different countries converge on 518 registered jam sites to produce a staggering 5,438 games – all in less than 48 hours.

Mike Tucker (right) with John Davis.

The aim of a game jam is to rapidly prototype game designs. Working within such time constraints has proved to be a great way to encourage creative thinking, resulting in small but innovative and experimental games, many of which have gone onto become fully realised releases.

For those learning their craft, or even those more established within the industry, a game jam is a unique opportunity for personal and professional development, encouraging participants to challenge conventional ways of working.

Peter Akrill, programme lead for Solent’s computer games development courses, explains:

“It’s always interesting to see the students perform on a very quick and high stress development cycle. It’s a tough mental challenge even before you take into account the sleep deprivation”.

Cross-disciplinary video game academy sessions are also a regular fixture of Solent’s video games courses, giving students the opportunity to build games in small groups that replicate working practices found in the industry.

Despite the lack of sleep and the pressured environment, there was an abundance of creativity to be found within the Solent teams  – our students and staff went on to find success and secure two prizes, which were later presented to them by Boss Alien Games.

First-year students Nedelin Gochev, George Alexandru Ciobanita, and Vasileios Tsagkaropoulos

The overall winner of the Southampton GGJ 2015 was The Funky Boys in Whack Times by Mike Tucker, who is an associate lecturer on the BSc (Hons) Computer Games (Indie) and BSc (Hons) Computer Games (Software Development) courses. He also worked with Jon Davies on the art, and Mike Clark on music and SFX.

Together they created a four-player co-operative game where Biggs and the Funky Boys got themselves into trouble. After finding a doorway to an alternate dimension where nothing was as it seemed, they were surrounded by horrifying monsters and… babies! Could they work together to get out alive before time and space itself collapsed around them?

If you want to see what they have created, be sure to download The Funky Boys in Whack Times for free.

Success didn’t end there, as a team of first-year students also won a prize for their game entitled C.H.A.I.R.S. (Constantly Height Adjusting Interactive Racing System). You can take a look at C.H.A.I.R.S and play it for free here.