After the huge success of Global Game Jam 2016, it was a pleasure to talk with Giselle Rosman, Executive Producer of the event! Giselle is also the chapter leader of IGDA Melbourne and business administrator of Hispter Whale, the company that developed Crossy Road.
Read all about her journey and inside stories about this year's Global Game Jam!
Executive Producer, Global Game Jam
Chair, IGDA Melbourne
Business Administrator, Hipster Whale
Jillian Mood, IGDA: Thank you for talking the time to speak with us Giselle! Tell us about how you got involved in global game jam?
Giselle Rosman: I've been leading IGDA Melbourne since late 2009. When I heard about GGJ, I set up our first site in Melbourne in January 2011, where we had 70 jammers. I was then asked to be Regional Organiser for Australia and New Zealand (2012-2013) which led to joining the Executive Committee for the 2014 event. By 2015, I had joined the Global Game Jam® Board, and when the position of Executive Producer came up, I applied for that and here we are!
JM: How do you and your team coordinate a global event like this?
GR: It's a challenge! Slack has been an amazing tool to streamline it all, but with around 750 people involved in making GGJ happen, including Site Organisers, Regional Organisers, Translators, and a range of committees, there's a lot of faith involved. I have come forward leaps and bounds in my ability to delegate throughout the process, and am so lucky to have such dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers from all over the world who make it come together. When I stop to think about it, I still don't think I can wrap my mind around the enormity of what we pulled together.
JM: What’s involved in coming up with theme each year?
GR: We put together a theme committee, which this year ran its gatherings via Slack and was led by Bryan Ma. The theme committee looks for something understandable across a large range of languages and cultures, which can be interpreted through a variety of cultural lenses. Ideas are thrown around, and the ones that keep re-surfacing get shortlisted for a committee vote.
We're really pleased with the jammer response to this year's theme, 'Ritual' which ticked all the boxes for being flexible and yet defined, and able to work across any language and cultural barriers.
JM: How many people participated this year? Which site this year had the most participants?
GR: 2016 was our biggest year yet with over 36,000 people jamming at 632 sites across 93 countries! Our biggest site was in Cario, Egypt and had more than 1200 jammers this year.
JM: It must be incredibly exciting to hear from sites all over the world jamming all weekend. What kind of feedback to you get? Any really cool stories coming out of this year?
GR: The feedback has been great so far. The theme was really well received and the Twitch streaming and Slack really helped with enabling people to feel like they were part of something bigger than just what was going on at their local jam site.
So many stories! These are just some as relayed by site organisers via Slack:
one guy in Buenos Aires made 280 tortas fritas in saturday (a kind of sweet bun, very typical in Argentina that is eaten with mate) and asked for a piece of story for each bun he give. With all the pieces he made this game: http://globalgamejam.org/2016/games/la-mateada
I didn't realize it until the jam was over but we had Justin Ma of FTL fame at our site and he formed a team with a designer/programmer from Kerbal Space Program, a guy from Spry Fox and a few other local indie devs to make Eldermon. A cross of Pokemon and Eldritch horror. http://globalgamejam.org/2016/games/eldermon We had devs of all skill levels at our site but this team certainly turned out the most complete game I saw.
It's funny how quickly the focus shifts away from regular things to just the game you're building. We had a blind person at our site who was a programmer in one of the teams. Friday night I saw him entering the restroom and trying to find the water fountain. I called after him: "just switch on the lights, makes it easier". His answer: "nah, Takes too long to locate the switch and doesn't help me anyway." I totally forgot that he was blind. But what I actually wanted to honor here is how well all of our attendants went along with him. He was helped without hesitation when he wanted to go somewhere or get something and vice versa he was asked when there were tricky programming questions. It was just awesome to be part of that community
One nice story form Medellin, Colombia. Is that we had some people come from a foundation for people with aspergers sindrome.
Included there was a kid that just came to be with his big brother, who was a programmer. One of the team saw the kid playing his guitar and assumed he was a musician, so they asked him to make the music for their game and he just did it!
He created this awesome music that worked really well with the game using borrowed computer equipment and software and by the second day of the jam he was all over his mom telling her that he wants to pursue a career in games and had decided to study that field at local university.
When I decided to take part as the mains organizer of our Jam site I said to my boyfriend that I would have to sacrifice our weekend I order to attend to the event. He, a formed medicine student, 20yrs old that dropped the grad to change to chemistry engineering, right away said that was going g to support and help in anyway he could. So he take part in the organisation too with task not related to game making since he had no experience in that (just in playing, what we do a lot heh). Well, the first day was very stressful and he got very tired since he worked in the reception and registering the people in the system as they arrived at the site. 40 people. As well as setting up the food and other things.
On the second day we had more time to take a look at the people producing the games.
Now he is really in doubt about chemistry or computer science.
And that's it. This Jam probably changed dramatically a people's life. And I thank you all so much for this opportunity. I'm so proud of him.