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Friday, June 26, 2009

NM Game Jam Coming (July 10th through 12th)

NM Game Jam Challenges Video Game Developers To Make a Game in 48 Hrs

The Rio Grande chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) presents the first ever NM Game Jam, a 48 hour video game development challenge to be held the second weekend of July (July 10
th – July 12th). Inspired by their participation in the Global Game Jam earlier this year, members of the Rio Grande IGDA have organized a similar event for New Mexicans to spend a wild weekend designing and creating innovative games.

A game jam follows a format much like the 48 Hour Film Festival being held the same weekend. Participants arrive on Friday evening to receive three theme words, chosen at random, roulette-wheel style, from a published list of 30 potential themes provided by game writer and chapter member Carolyn Handler Miller. Participants brainstorm ideas on possible games that incorporate two of the three chosen themes and form teams to build their games.

Once the teams have decided on their game’s premise, the participants are in a mad rush to create the art, music, and code that will produce a playable version of their concept. Luke Nihlen, President of 10
th Artist and project lead for the lone Albuquerque team in the Global Game Jam, gives his impression on why this type of event leads to making innovative games:

"The great thing about a game jam is that the limited time forces developers to focus on accomplishing only a small feature set. Smart developers will focus on gameplay and will plan in a gameplay-centric fashion. Specifically, the question that should come up in planning is "What does this feature add to the gameplay?" This, in my opinion, is the way that any good game is made."

The creators of the NM Game Jam hope that this event accomplishes several missions, most importantly to help cultivate and strengthen the budding game development industry taking shape in the state. Jon
Whetzel, Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories and Rio Grande IGDA chair member, viewed the Global Game Jam as “the best method I’ve seen so far in getting people even remotely interested in making games involved. Not only did I get to meet several game developers, both seasoned and new, who share the same passion, but we all contributed to putting a game together that still makes me proud.” Eric Renz-Whitmore, Program Coordinator for the UNM ARTS Lab and Chairman of the Rio Grande IGDA hopes that the event shows off New Mexico's game-making talent. "There's a tremendous amount of creativity here, which we saw at the Global Game Jam," said Renz-Whitmore. "This is a great opportunity to meet, work together and have fun."

The NM Game Jam is scheduled to start on July 10
th at 6:00 pm at the UNM ARTS Lab (131 Pine St., NE). The NM Game Jam concludes on Sunday July 12th at 6:00 pm followed immediately with game demonstrations and presentations. For more information of the NM Game Jam, visit their website ( or contact Eric Renz-Whitmore ( or 277-2253).

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