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Waterloo Game Jam

GI Jam Winter 2017 Poster

Waterloo Game Jam is a thrice-annual, multi-day event hosted by The Games Institute (GI). Each of these events are open to the public and are designed to appeal to a wide variety of playful people.

Whether you have an idea for a game design in the works, or if game design has never crossed your mind, there is room for everyone! All levels of expertise and preparation are welcome.

Every Game Jam weekend follows our "Learn, Make, Play" theme:

  • LEARN: you can hear talks from GI and community experts about the tools and techniques involved in the design and creation of games.
  • MAKE: you can build your own games from scratch along with helpful advice and guidance from our GI mentors. You can create your own game mechanic, gameful art, game characters and narrative, or try your hand at coding for your very own game prototype.
  • PLAY: you can explore new kinds of games, try out some of the brand new games that were made at the DIY event itself, and give/receive feedback with local game experts.

Still Unsure if You Want to Partake?

The Main Event

Registration Details



Still Unsure if You Want to Partake?

The Games Institute hosts Proto-Play Nights every Thursday of the  
academic year from 6pm until 9pm. In collaboration with the UW Game  
Development Club, Proto-Play nights give the opportunity to meet and  
collaborate with local game developers in a casual environment.

Attending the Game Development Club's weekly events will allow  
Waterloo Game Jam participants an opportunity to meet up with other GI Jam-ers and discuss possible projects and teams. You will also get a  
hands on experience to different aspects of the Game Making process in  
the weeks leading up to the jam.

These events also serve as an excellent opportunity to learn more  
about programs and software you may want to use during the event, so  
that when the Main Event rolls around you will be prepared to start 
creating your games right away! That said, the Jam will be fully  
staffed to help you at each step as well as make the connections to 
form a solid group!

The Main Event

The Waterloo Game Jam event is modeled after traditional “game jam” events like the Global Game Jam and Ludum Dare but with two important twists: a design focus and no deadlines! Throughout the weekend, you can work to take your game idea from dream to playable. Mentors from the Games Institute will be giving talks and tutorials about how to brainstorm, prototype, and develop your own games. Starting with paper prototypes and game concepts, the GI mentors will help you discover the world of games outside of simply programming, from game mechanics to narrative and artwork.

Although every event follows a slightly varied schedule, you can expect to hear talks and tutorials from local game developers and experts. The Main Event is hosted on the UW campus and provides space for both collaborative and creative work, as well as a designated Quiet Room for those who wish to code until they can code no more! 

Registration Details

All event attendees are required to pre-register before the event through the GI Eventbrite page. A link will be provided on the events page for each jam. The Eventbrite pre-registration page is simply for us to keep track of who will be attending the event and to make the opening night run smoothly. Fill out the form to let us know that you are coming, then bring your debit or credit card to pay in person at the Main Event.

Tentative Schedule

Friday (January 20th):

  • 4:30 pm - Doors open (QNC 1502) / Registration begins. During this time, teams can form, chat, and brainstorm before things kick off.

  • 5:15 pm - Opening remarks

  • 5:30 pm - Tutorials begin in QNC 1502 (learn about game design, Unity 101, and Unreal engine). Quiet space is available in QNC 2502.
  • 9:30 pm - Doors close

Saturday (January 21st):

  • 9:00 am - Doors open

  • 9:30 am - Welcome back, reminder of available help. 

  • 12:00 pm - Lunch begins

  • 2:30 pm - Check-in, mentors circulate
  • 5:00 pm - Show & tell (optional: 2 minutes for each team to describe what they’re making)

  • 9:30 pm - Doors close

Sunday (January 22nd):

  • 9:00 am - Doors open

  • 5:00 pm - Showcase/Jam awards

  • 6:00 pm - Closing

Frequently Asked Questions

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