After participating in two annual GameJams in our computer science faculty in the years before, I knew the people and the general course of those events. In 2019, the previous main organizer missed resources to set up the next GameJam in his free time. To support his previous work and to not disrupt this evolving annual community event, I decided to help out and take the role of the lead organizer.
A GameJam is a weekend-long, public event where developers and laymen come together and spend the predetermined 48 hours (in our case) to develop a game from scratch. In the previous years, I learned as a participant, how difficult but also satisfying it is to envision, develop, and test a game (and all required components like graphics, logic, effect, music, …) within this short period of time. However, in 2019 I got to learn the organizational effort required to host such an event.
Me, and my team had to organize and prepare a lot of different things:
As in previous years, we wanted to host the event in our faculty of computer science. The first floor offers everything we needed. The big lecture hall can be used for all joint appointments, like introductory talks, presentations, and the award ceremony. More than 5 seminar rooms offer enough space to accommodate the 50 participants. And the student-led cafe is perfect to prepare and have a meal.
Fortunately, we were able to convince the dean’s office to allow this event in their building once again.
To simplify the provisioning for all participants so that they can focus on the game development, we decided to offer half-board during the 3 days as in previous years. On Friday afternoon we went to a big supermarket to pick up food and drinks to offer a simple breakfast and warm supper to all 50 participants.
We voted against nominating a winner of the whole event, to foster the community feeling without competitiveness. However, we wanted to hand over prizes as an accomplishment for outstanding results. We picked several categories, like “most innovative”, and let the other participants secretly vote for their favorites.
As we wanted to offer the event for free, we had to acquire sponsors to pay for catering, awards, and instrumentation. I personally talked to local companies and visited their facilities. I presented our concepts and the idea behind our GameJam and was able to acquire three big local companies as our sponsors. It not only rendered the whole event possible but also gave me insights into the businesses, their jobs, and work environments.
To quicken interest, we promoted our event on different channels, mainly via posters across the campus, a web page, and social media posts. In the end, we enrolled more than 50 participants, which was close to our upper limit, which made us quite happy.
Overall, the GameJam 2019 was a complete success. The 50 participants and us, we had great 50 hours with lots of fun moments and brilliant games or concepts. Although the preparation and holding of the event was a time-consuming free time activity, I think it was worth it. I gained experience in organizing bigger events, acquiring sponsors, and leading a team. I hope to get similar chances in the future, once it is possible again to have bigger gatherings.