The GI Game Jam, is a thrice-annual, multi-day event hosted by The Games Institute (GI) at the University of Waterloo where playful people gather to create original games together over a weekend. Our events welcome a wide variety of game-making hobbyists, students, and professionals from different disciplines may it be programming, art, music, design, or writing, and are open to anyone anywhere with an Internet connection. This is not just for UW students! For the 1st time ever, the entire event is online and we hope to use this opportunity to support remote teams and spend more time mentoring newcomers.
On June 25-28th, 2020, build a game with your team, join a thriving community & have lots of fun!
If you have questions not answered by the FAQ, please reach out to current Game Jam captain Marvin Pafla for more details
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.
Start: 5pm, Thursday, June 25th
End: 5pm, Sunday, June 28th
To take part in the Game Jam, sign up on Eventbrite
The Waterloo Game Jam event is modelled after traditional “game jam” events like the Global Game Jam and Ludum Dare with an equal focus on art and design and playability! 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 programming, from game mechanics, to narrative, and artwork.
We worked hard to make sure the very first GI online Game Jam will provide a similar experience to previous, in-person, Game Jams. This time there will be:
- A Twitch stream that helps you stay on track,
- A friendly environment on Discord that helps you find a team, organize your team, and build something great,
- Dedicated group of team-mentors that make sure you have everything you need, answer your questions, or point you in the right direction,
- $270 worth of e-gift cards given out to members of the team with the best game, best art, etc. (more in the opening remarks).
To take part in the Game Jam, sign up on Eventbrite
The Game Jam will be free! Just sign up on Eventbrite.
Thursday, June 25th:
5:00 pm to 6:00 pm - Opening remarks + theme reveal!
Friday, June 26th:
12:00 pm - Check-in and Q&A with experts
Saturday, June 27th:
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm - Social activity
Sunday, June 28th:
5:00 pm - Deadline for game kit upload
5:00 pm to 5:30 pm - Closing remarks
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 to learn how to make a game.
You can consider attending Proto-Play Nights every Thursday of the academic year from 6pm until 9pm, at the Games Institute. 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.
Where does the Game Jam happen and is there parking available for the event?
The Game Jam this term will be entirely online.
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 recommend tools are 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 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 its as simple as making sure to credit the original authors in your own games.
What happened to the Learn event?
How do I find out about the next up-coming Game Jam event?
The Waterloo Game Jam events happen three times per year, typically once every academic term at UW. To get all of the up-to-date information and event invites, join the GI events mailing list from the GI home page.
All other inquiries can be emailed to our events coordinator.
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.