If gaming is your jam (or even if it’s not), it’s time to  get your game on! The Department of Computer Science is hosting the College of Charleston Global Game Jam 2023 – the world’s largest game-creation event – in the second-floor innovation lab at Harbor Walk East (360 Concord St.) on Friday, Feb. 3, through Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023.

All CofC students and the general public are invited to join the tens of thousands of participants (jammers) at hundreds of physical and virtual sites around the world for this free, two-day event that brings people together to be creative, share experiences and express themselves using the universal language of video games.

Creating a space where members of the local tech scene and College of Charleston students of all disciplines can team up to create a video game in one whirlwind weekend, GGJ is a great opportunity for computer science students to stretch their skills and for student-artists, writers or other aspiring game creators to try out making their first game. No coding experience is necessary!

Indeed, it’s anybody’s game!

Founded in July 2008 as a project of the International Game Developers Association’s Game Education Special Interest Group, the Global Game Jam is a nonprofit organization that encourages people of all backgrounds to participate and explore new technology tools, try on new roles in development and do something that requires them to design, develop, create, test and make a new game.

That can be a real game changer for participants, launching successful and sustainable careers in game development – and that’s why the College first hosted a GGJ site in 2022. One of only two GGJ sites in South Carolina, the CofC site attracted 18 jammers, with two local game developers serving as judges.

This year, the games begin at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3, with a short video keynote with advice from leading game developers, and the subsequent announcement of the secret 2023 theme. All jammers worldwide are then challenged to make games based on that same theme, with games to be completed by 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

“As at our 2022 site, there will be computer science faculty on hand to introduce newcomers to accessible game-making tools and offer hands-on guidance,” says Sarah Schoemann, assistant professor of computer science, noting that the 2023 professional judges will be announced soon. “We’ll be inviting industry veterans to the final game presentations on Sunday afternoon to offer expert feedback and name a winning game.”

It was sophomore computer science major Alex Groves and computing in the arts major Alex Tate-Moffo ’22 who took the win last year. Their game – a fast-paced, retro-style rhythm game called BeatPlayer – is available to play through the GGJ website.

Of course, while it’s always nice to take home the win, the GGJ is more about collaboration and camaraderie than competition. The GGJ is meant to provide a safe and welcoming event and community for everyone and to foster new friendships, increase confidence in aspiring game developers and create opportunities within local communities.

Since the first GGJ in 2009, when 1,600 people from 23 countries participated, the event has grown to more than 33,000 jammers registered at 681 sites in 100 countries. It has also built a network of volunteers and industry professionals committed to the mission of empowerment and inclusivity as people all over the world come together to learn, teach and create together through the medium of games.

As the GGJ’s website says, “the GGJ stirs a global creative buzz in games, while at the same time exploring the process of development, be it programming, iterative design, narrative exploration or artistic expression.”

That is, ultimately, the name of the game.

To join the CofC GGJ or for more information, visit the webpage or contact Sarah Schoemann. For more information about the Global Game Jam, visit the GGJ website.