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Global Game Jam provides fun lessons in creativity

Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, Admissions

Fun and learning can take place at the same time, especially if games are involved. Take, for example, the annual Global Game Jam competition.

Cody Putzier, a 2014 Dakota State graduate in computer game design and development, returned to DSU recently to participate in his 10th Global Game Jam.

Putzier with some friends, and his girlfriend, Ashley Burtz, a fellow DSU alum, attend the annual game creation event to continue to develop their skills and work with new students.

“Over the past few years I believe that what I enjoy most about this event has shifted; my primary focus now is to help the students improve their skills in any area possible along with contributing to complete their respective vision for a game over a weekend,” Putzier said.

Putzier currently works as a software engineer at Metabank in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Putzier was one of over 60 Dakota State University alumni and students who joined together to create seven games in the span of 48 hours during Global Game Jam 2019. They were among nearly 40,000 global participants who created over 8,000 games during the annual event.

Quincton Rush, video game design club president and student organizer of the Dakota State site sees it as a fun and beneficial weekend for participants.

“It expands one’s creative capacity,” said Rush, a double major in game design and animation from Aberdeen, S.D. “You take this amazing idea of an 80-hour long game -- if you had all the time in the world to make it and condense it down to something that you could feasibly create in a short time with a team of 10 or less.”

Dr. Steve Graham, site organizer and associate professor of computer game design in The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences, believes the weekend offers immense fun and value to DSU students.

“For game design students it’s a weekend devoted to their discipline and a chance to observe and interact with other game developers from around the world,” Graham said. “Students from other majors have a chance to apply their skills in an interesting and fun environment.”

The creativity and problem solving that takes place during game jam is what Rachel Groth, game club president, enjoys most. This is the fourth game jam Groth, a triple major in computer game design, computer science, and mathematics from Sioux Falls, S.D. has participated in.

Groth, who worked on coding for the game “Plz Feed Meow,” sees the event as a way to exercise creativity in places that may not normally be seen as creative, like coding, which some may think of as a long or quiet task. Groth was able to start coding before the idea for the game was fully formed.

“The only thing I needed to know to start was if it was going to be 2-D or 3-D and would it be top down or sideways,” Groth explained. With those details decided, “I can start coding mechanics to build on.”

The event started with the announcement of a theme, “What home means to you.” This was followed by a brainstorming session to develop ideas, which led to the creation of teams to make the games.

The games created in Madison included a table top game, a 3-D game and several 2-D games featuring original sound effects, narration, and music.

One team recorded a person stomping their feet through the snow to create authentic audio for a game about trying to get home during a blizzard in South Dakota. Another team which created the game “Hearts Lie,” filmed people walking around to use as models for characters in a serial killer game inspired by the “Tell-Tale Heart.”

All of the games are available at globalgamejam.org to download and play under the Dakota State University site location. 

Global Game Jam 2019

Pictured (l-to-r): AJ Bollman, Brooke Gronli, Jackson Augspurger, Ryan Marnette, and Dominic Sharma, all members of the team that created the game “Hearts Lie,” during Global Game Jam.