So, that was fun! Initially we were expecting 8 or 9 people, 30 turned up in the end. We had 1 person who had to leave and 3 more who joined throughout the course of the event. I enjoy the game dev tradition of post mortems on game releases, so why not do one for a gamejam? Let’s begin!
*Biggest Galway Game Jam yet!*
The numbers show something else too – there is a thirst for gamejams and game development events in Galway – it is growing more and more every year.
*The People!* We’ve been privileged to get such a lovely bunch of game jammers who care about making games and who want to share their passion with you.
*11 (and a half) games made!* 9 and 1/2 made on location, 2 made by online participants, and at least one game we are aware of that didn’t make it to submission stage. You can play them here! [https://itch.io/jam/galwaygamejam5/entries](https://itch.io/jam/galwaygamejam5/entries)
*Gamejam games are online!* Thanks to everyone who helped we got a majority of gamejam builds online, some of which have already had a let’s play by Jupiter Hadley! Pretty sweet.
*Slack chat!* We’ve found that game jammers tend to encounter very similar difficulties and technical issues during the gamejam and believe that we can help solve a lot of these through a common, instant communication tool like Slack. Though we did use Slack for Galway Game Jam 5, inviting everyone to a shared Slack chat, we did so quite late into the jam (About half-way through the gamejam on the promise of pizza – way better than carrots!). This meant that some people never joined in the chat, failing to see reason for joining. At least 3 teams encountered the same issue uploading their Unity game builds to itch.io – something that I feel could have been limited to just one team if we had better utilized Slack. Though the outcome from using instant chat like Slack wasn’t as huge a success at Galway Game Jam 5 as I’d hoped, it has certainly cemented in my mind the importance of having it for further game jams and to help maintain momentum within the game jam community between these events, hence my rating it as a ‘Good’ thing.
*Awesome photographs!* We were lucky enough to have photographer Colm McElligott, a friend of one of the game jammers, drop by on the second and third day to take a few photographs. Such a generous man with his time and efforts! We now have a much more professional looking photo album from Galway Game Jam 5 which can only serve to benefit us. Of course, all those silly moments caught on mobile phone cameras are important too!
Having planned for about 1/3 of the people that turned up, we struggled at certain points to organise stuff with the group. It meant I had to sort of stand on a chair, raise my voice and expose the group to my bad jokes a few too many times. Though nothing terrible happened, thankfully, there were some delays were they could have been avoided with better planning.
At least one person didn’t follow through with the jam. Sadly this is something we feel we could have acted on. Quite often we have people interested in the gamejam but who don’t really feel they can contribute much to a game, all of whom we encourage to join in and end up doing more than they thought. They have lots of fun with the process of actually making something. We’re humans after all. Some people who maybe lack self-confidence or believe they don’t have the skills required to make a game can feel quite intimidated by this. We put one such person on a team and left the team to sort of figure out their roles, but unfortunately it seems as though the team couldn’t fit everyone in and the person quietly left the event while we were gone fetching gamejam pizza. If we had more volunteers at the event this could have been avoided, as we could have talked with the team or switched the person to another team that could better accommodate them, and put them to work on something.
Gender balance. There was not enough women there at all. Something like 25 guys and 5 women. Sadly some people told me this was actually not that bad a balance for this type of event. One of the women told me it was nice that there even was other women there, that she is often the only woman at such events.
We’ve learned a lot. Here are some things we’ll be doing next time:
Set up at lot more at the start – things like our shared gamejam Slack chat and itch.io profiles.
More volunteers! Having more volunteers / organisers present so we can focus on helping people however we can throughout the entirety of the event. This will make it easier for us to pay attention and act on issues as they arise to ensure everyone has a positive experience, feels productive in their team and contributes to making something they can show off later (however gamejammy-broken it may be!).
A dedicated live team! We’ll have a dedicated hero or two from the ranks of new volunteers take to the live stream and social media channels throughout the event. This will take a significant time-burden away from other volunteers and allow everyone to focus better on their tasks.
Attack on the gender imbalance! We plan on running a few workshops on the lead up to the next game jam and throughout the year to bring in hacker women from Women in Tech groups as well as writers and artists who may have never heard of a game jam or who may feel like they need to be better at doing X, whatever X may be, before they can be comfortable jumping into a gamejam. Hopefully this engaged approach will help us to bridge this gap in our local Galway Game Jam level. That’s not to dissuade any men either – if you are interested in the gamejam do come along – don’t be tempted to help the gender balance by avoiding the gamejam! (That’s not the point anyway! :P)
Personally I got a great buzz and feeling of validation for the weeks of effort I’ve put into making this happen, especially since I was expecting so few people from our pre-booked ticket sales. Each person that walked in just made me surprized. I must have had a silly smile all weekend. This was a totally amazing gamejam and the positivity I felt from it is shared among the other organisers and game jammers alike. This is were game dev hobbyists do their thing. It’s were game-idea-stuff gets made real and see’s the first light of day. It’s were teams are formed. It’s a place to try some new game ideas, test your game dev skills, meet new people and have the craic making something. Did we mention pizza? It’s also were you get pizza, apparently.
See you all at the next one!