The Global Game Jam (GGJ), the world's largest game development hackathon held annually around the world on the same day with the same theme, was held online for the first time since its inception in 2009 from January 27 (Wed.) to 31 (Sun.), 2021, due to the global spread of the new coronavirus. 30 students from Kyoto Computer Gakuin (KCG) Digital Game Department participated in the online game development collaboration with their partner school, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), USA.
On Wednesday, February 3, nine mixed groups of KCG and RIT students gave final presentations of their best games in an online meeting connecting Japan and the U.S. to summarize the participation of KCG and RIT in GGJ.Vernon Herman, a longtime PlayStation software developer at Sony, and Alex Brazee, a veteran freelance game designer who has worked for both Blizzard and RiotGames in the U.S., participated as guest panelists, and the students had the opportunity to receive valuable advice on game creation directly from these two world-renowned creators.
The development theme of this year's GGJ was "Lost & Found," and each group of students from both schools made a series of unique presentations, including an action game in which the player can recover "souls" from enemies that the character has defeated and revive himself after fighting a boss and losing, and a puzzle game in which the player becomes a fictional doctor and skillfully removes unpleasant memories of patients to achieve high ratings.Among them, the riddle-solving horror game named "In Search of Light" was highly praised for its high-quality 3D visuals and ambitious concept of escaping from the facility while running away from AI-driven monsters.Guest panelists praised "MONOCHROME SHIFT," a gimmick puzzle action game in which players successfully switch between light and dark screens to reveal different scaffolding and items to clear each stage, saying it was a simple game with a clear concept and a well realized idea.
Mr. Hirota, a KCG student (Game Department) who created the game, asked, "How do you get around disagreements within the production team due to language barriers and time constraints in the real world?In response to the question, "What is the best way to achieve the goal?" Mr. Brazee politely answered, "If we cannot take the time to communicate well, we can use the 'command and control' system, in which the leader's instructions are absolute, or the style popular in the industry these days, in which the leader presents only the goal and the members are free to achieve it.
This year's GGJ was a huge success, with approximately 28,000 game creators from 104 countries gathering at 585 virtual venues around the world to simultaneously develop more than 6,000 titles.Isao Takahashi, the head of the Digital Game Department, who supervised the students, said, "The students from Japan and the U.S., who were far away from each other, worked hard together, sharing screens via the game-specific chat application Discord and communicating in English and Japanese, which they are not used to, using the voice function.When we could not talk directly due to the time difference, we kept a chat log to keep each other informed of the status of development.I was frankly amazed that such a game could be produced in such a short period of time, even with such restrictions.Next year, I would definitely like to participate in the event as a producer," he said.
RIT is a prestigious engineering university founded in 1829 on the outskirts of Rochester, New York, USA.Known for being one of the first universities in the world to establish an IT department in 1991, the school has earned a reputation as one of the best in the U.S., especially in education and achievements in the fields of computer graphics, games, and IT.KCG has had a sister school affiliation with RIT since 1996, and has developed a study abroad program that allows undergraduate transfer, as well as a master's degree program for graduates of four-year universities in the Information Technology Department.