Making A Video Game In 48 Hours

From Pokémon to Persona, I’ve always loved playing video games! Last weekend, I decided to take that love one step further by participating in Global Game Jam 2020, the world’s largest game jam event. A game jam is where game lovers come together and participate in developing a video game or board game within a certain time limit.

I went with a team of friends from Virtual Entertainment Club, a club that focuses on exploring and creating content for various virtual reality platforms. Our team had one job: create and present a video game in 48 hours. I’ve never really had that much game development experience, so I viewed this project as a fun challenge to see how well it goes. Little did I know how much this experience would teach me about game development and teamwork.

We arrived at Hub101, a coworking space run and operated by California Lutheran University. The space was massive and offered us so much room to brainstorm and work on our project. We quickly claimed our working area and got ready for that evening’s big reveal: Global Game Jam 2020’s theme. From “The Sound of a Heartbeat” to “What Home Means To You,” Global Game Jam gives a new theme every year as inspiration for its participants’ projects. This year’s theme was simple: “Repair.” Soon after we were given this year’s theme, we all got to work by brainstorming ideas for our video game.

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Our team returned to our working area and started writing down all of our ideas on the whiteboard. In only a few minutes, we had all of the whiteboards filled with suggestions and concept art for our game. After discussing and proposing game subjects, we combined all of our ideas into a single concept: a platformer game of a robot dad going on a journey to repair their broken child. 

Most of that Friday night was spent organizing ourselves with what we wanted to do. We split up different assignments and tasks for everyone. I was assigned to writing characters and dialogue, while others were assigned to coding the game, drawing artwork, producing music, and more. I was excited to be part of such a talented game development team and we all got to work.

After a long day of work, some of us had to head back home. Three of us decided to stay over at Hub101 and ended up sharing a single bean bag for the night. The next morning, we woke up one by one and waited for the rest of the team to come back so we could continue working on the game. That’s when we really started to get into the groove. We made a lot of progress within the first 24 hours and kept ourselves busy. 

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But of course, not everything had to be all work and no play. We took time to relax once in a while, some of us playing Magic: The Gathering or watching TikToks. We also took snack breaks, consisting of eating Fruit Roll-Ups while discussing our progress and list of things to do. Hub101 was even kind enough to provide us with extra bean bags for when we needed to take a nap and recharge (much like our robotic main character). We had many discussions and started growing closer together as a game development team. It was such an enjoyable experience getting to know more about everybody. 

With Sunday morning coming along and the deadline fast approaching, we all had to get into crunch time. There were some stressful moments and a rollercoaster of emotions during the game development process. From controls not working properly to miscommunication on who was supposed to submit the team roster, we ran into multiple obstacles. However, none of it compared to our biggest obstacle: time. We ended up having to cut several levels and much of the dialogue in order to submit our project in time. But it all turned out to be worth it once we were able to submit the video game before the 5:00 PM deadline.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first ever experience participating in Global Game Jam and hope to participate in future game jams with the same team. This opportunity taught me a lot about the work that goes into game development and the importance of working well in a team. I hope every video game lover or amateur video game developer has the opportunity to join any upcoming game jams available to them!