The Games Institute acknowledges that we are living and working on the traditional territory of the Attawandaron (also known as Neutral), Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land promised to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.
GI Game Jam
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, disciplinary backgrounds, and preparation are welcome.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I prepare before the event?
Preparation isn't necessary, strictly speaking, because all skill levels are welcome.
After signing up on Eventbrite, we will send you a list of tutorials and other resources that can help you get started learning how to make a game.
You can consider 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 with different aspects of the Game Making process in the weeks leading up to the jam.
Meetings are every Thursday from 4 pm - 8 pm. Members are encouraged to work on their game projects with like-minded students or have their games play tested.
The club is open to the public, and meet-ups take place at The Games Institute at the University of Waterloo.
Where does the Game Jam happen and is there parking available for the event?
The Jam happens in person at the University of Waterloo. Parking is available on campus paid on Thursday & Friday, and free on the weekends. Additional information on parking and room locations will be sent out to participants closer to the date.
Do I need to be an expert game developer?
Absolutely not! Waterloo Game Jam is all about having fun and learning about games! If you’ve ever played a game of Monopoly, Charades, or Super Mario, you can make your own game!
Our advice: Keep it simple and focus on creating something fun! Start with what you know/like and remix from there!
There is so much more that goes into games other than coding and programing. You can create a simple game mechanic, some artwork, the game's narrative and characters, rather than an entire game itself.
What about adding a ‘shareholder’ mechanic to Monopoly? Or adding sheep-stealing alien invaders to Settlers of Catan? How about making a bizarro version of Pong where players control the ball instead of the paddles? Or a tablet version of Twister for your fingers? Or a multiplayer version of QWOP? Or a platform game where you race against a rainbow?
The possibilities are endless, so no matter what your gaming experience, all you need is an open mind!
Will everyone be working on their own game?
We encourage participants to form teams for the event. You’re free to go lone wolf, but it’s been our experience that working in teams helps round out a group’s collective experience. Don’t worry if you aren’t able to put a crew together beforehand either, we’ll be helping people team up at the start of the jam too.
In fact, some of our most successful games have come from teams that had never met prior to their first Game Jam!
How does a team code collaboratively? Are we going to have to pass a bunch of USB keys around to share files?
Developing games in teams is a lot of fun but it also takes a little bit of careful bookkeeping to make sure everyone is contributing to the same code base. Even if you’re participating as a one-person team, keeping track of different versions of your work can be important. That’s where “source control” systems like Git come in.
Don’t know what “Git” is? Don’t worry! We will have GI experts at the event giving tutorials and helpful talks to explain the basics. It’s so simple and useful you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it!
Are there any recommended tools I should consider to help with making games?
Using the right tools can save a lot of time when tinkering and prototyping new game ideas. Below are some sample tools we recommend at the Games Institute and what’s even better, most of them are FREE!
For analog board games and party games, nothing beats good old pencil and paper! We also try to have some cardboard, clay, and tape on hand.
For video games, the recommended tools are a little more new-school and diverse:
Engines and Editors
Tiled map editor is great for grid based (including isomatric) map creation.
Piskel is a nifty online sprite editor.
Bfxr is a great, simple way for non-audiophiles to generate a wide variety of retro-style sound effects for use in their games. Twiddle the various knobs and experiment with combinations of basic waveforms to create as many free to use sound effects as you need.
Various sprite archives are also a good place to find a variety of pixel art and sprite sheets to use if you lack artistic skill. Be mindful however: many such sites feature art assets from commercial games and so are subject to appropriate copyright laws. As an example, you are typically free to use sprites of Mario or Sonic for educational purposes like the GI Jam, but you cannot use those assets in commercial games! You wouldn’t want someone ripping off and profiting from your creative work, would you?FreeSound.org and similar websites are also a great place to find more true-to-life pre-recorded sound effects. Like commercial sprites though, many of the sound effects found on these sites carry specific license restrictions. Sometimes they’re for non-commercial use only and sometimes it's as simple as making sure to credit the original authors in your own games.
How many team members are allowed in one group?
There is no set limit on how large a team can be, but the recommended size is between 3-5 people.
Q: Why does the in-person ticket cost money?
A: The in-person ticket to the Jam will include access to physical prototyping resources, as well as provided food and snacks during the jam. The cost of the ticket will go towards providing these to attendees.