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Winnipeg Game Jam: A race against time to create playable masterpieces in 3 days

Game developers in Winnipeg are racing against time to create a playable masterpiece in just three days at an annual weekend event known as the Winnipeg Game Jam.

Videogames typically take several years to develop: for instance, Rockstar has reportedly been developing Grand Theft Auto 6 since 2014. But at this event held by the Winnipeg Game Collective, programmers and artists don’t have as much time to work with.

“It’s an annual event we do with the purpose of making games over the course of a weekend,” said Daniel Voth, coordinator of Winnipeg Game Jam.

They have just three days to complete all the art, code, animation and sound effects that go into making a short and playable game.

Programmer Alex Mark says the benefit of the tight timeline is it forces you to stay focused.

“The unusually short development time puts a focus on, ‘Just make the dang game,’ you know? Do all your prototyping as fast as possible, do all the implementing as fast as possible – make a thing, as opposed to make the thing well,” Mark said.

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This year’s theme is bees. At a showcase at the end of the event, they’ll present a hopefully finished product that everyone can play.

Zhaoling Sun, who brought some of his Grade 11 and 12 students from Kildonan East Collegiate, says it teaches aspiring developers important organizational skills.

“It’s like an explosive learning environment where they have to learn a lot of things in a short time and make things work and collaborate. So it’s good for them to get to know each other, and work with people they haven’t worked with before,” he said.

Organizers say working with new people – even for professionals – helps to hone skills they might not use much in their day jobs.

“It’s always nice to see people take the stuff that they work on, not just the projects, but the skills and the relationships that they build during the event and take that beyond,” said Voth.

Whether the resulting game ends up filled with bugs and glitches or even unfinished, developer Sasha Gervais-Tourangeau says there’s satisfaction in the sometimes exhausting process.

“It feels pretty good because you realize how much work you can accomplish just in such little time. Especially with other people,” Gervais-Tourangeau said.

— with files from Global’s Katherine Dornian

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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