GGJ Archives 2009-2012

Reflections of an Organizer


I had one of the best weekends of my life a year ago. It was the first time I had created a game. The balance was off and it was impossible to beat if you weren't on the development team.. but man, I couldn't have had a better time. It solidified "YES! This is it! This is why I'm here, because I want to do this for the rest of my life!" in my mind. It really made me smile.

A year has passed and I'm now on the student organization who hosts GGJ here at the University of Southern California and man.. are things different. At first I planned to participate but our team fell apart and I had a lot of administrative things to take care of so eventually my name wasn't on any game being created. And that sucked. But that's not what I want to talk about.

Last year we had 38 people. 8 Games. A bunch of exposure on BoingBoing's blog and hence Kotaku. A story on abc channel 7. An article in our university newspaper. Sponsorship from an energy drink company. Financial support from our department. Flyers and posters galore. Curious Visitors. But most of all: an incredible air of excitement and wonder captured in a little dungeon in the basement of the Carson Sound Stage. The event was magical and the feeling of a tight-knit community was delicious.

Things were different this year. My point in writing this isn't to go into the specifics, but rather summarize what happened and what needs to be changed for next year's GGJ. As for what happened this year.. well.. to put it in short:
- Lack of external support from those who pretend to be interested
- Lack of appropriate jamming space for increased participation
- Lack of community and the magic of last year's jam

Each of these points had their reasons, but the result was rather disappointing. Don't get me wrong - we had awesome participants and games - my message is solely from an organizational point of view. That being said, this is only the second year. There is a lot to learn, and that is exactly what we have done. It's time to think ahead for next year!

Notes for the future:
- Everyone should participate in the same room.
- Find out what it takes to get a large room. Fight for it.
- All available funding should go towards snacks and drinks instead of meals.
- There will be people who will not participate in the spirit of the jam. You can't change them.
- Strongly encourage smaller team sizes.
- Management and participation can be done. Scope down the project if necessary.

The one note I'm addressing to myself for now, however, is the most important:
- Sometimes no matter how much you try, things won't turn out the way you want them to. Keep smiling and doing what you love. If people are satisfied, it's their problem. They'll get over it.

I'm a 20 year old who loves studying Game Development. I love playing games. I love making games.
And I love being someone who works for other people who love the same things.

So I'll keep doing it.
And I'll keep smiling.


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