Recently several VFS students including Anna Prein, Alberto Mastretta, Michelangelo Huezo, Marcus Lembi and myself attended a local game jam hosted by iamagamer and supported by a myriad of local companies including East Side Games, Silicon Sisters, Radial Games, Indie House, and many others. Several VFS grads, many now working in the industry, also attended including Mario Gonz, Jess Garcia, Kramer Solinsky, Carl Graves, and TJ McLain.
All the teams got 48 hours to reach the same goal, to create a game with a strong female protagonist. The Centre for Digital Media was kind enough to provide the gymnasium where teams set up not just laptops and tablets, but computer towers, doubled monitors, speakers, and recording equipment. Across the table from Marcus and I, another team had a cello and a ukulele. The passion that the teams brought to this event was just as inspiring as the weight of the props they carried.
Our team was enormous. We had, three artists, four programmers, one audio collaborator, and one project manager/game designer. We were a mix of students and professionals. The entire experience felt like a recap of six months at VFS, including all the lessons in programming, time management, collaboration, narrative, art, sound, and level design. I left with a better understanding of game development pipe lines, the importance of team cooperation, shared vision, lerping, AI, sprites, sound management files, and I also ended up with a game that I’m extremely proud to have had a hand in.
But the lesson that solidified for me at this jam was that in deciding to come to VFS and in going for our dreams, my classmates and I have chosen to join an industry where the collective passion reaches levels of beautiful insanity. One of my favorite professors, Samuel Delany, wrote a book titled About Writing, where he speaks at length about the German word Begeisterung, a form of spirit, a mode of will, the buzz inside you that will carry you through any effort no matter how grand or seemingly impossible. I have yet to meet anyone in the gaming industry or in my program at VFS who does not have an incredible amount of Begeisterung.
While at the event I heard the VFS game design program described by a lead industry designer as “A year long non-stop game jam,” and wonderfully, I can agree. While I do think it is key for our industry, and any industry, to find better ways to manage work life balance, it is clear to me after six months at VFS, and after one weekend spent with people who spend all week (usually more than 10 hours a day) working on games, who came to spend time making games with students and each other, that the real reason we all work so hard is that we care an incredible amount about the work we do.
And what better reason could there be?
To all those who sponsored the game jam, to those who participated, and to my fellow students, I salute you and I am very thankful for the time I have with you.
Even if sometimes our passion for our work makes us lose our beds.
And here are the links to our games:
Anna Prein, Alberto Mastretta, and Michelangelo Huezo worked on this:
Marcus and I worked on this:
All the Iamagamer game submissions can be found here:
And if you’re interested in Samuel Delany, here is a link to his book About Writing
Shad Miller is a Game Design student at VFS