Global Game Jam a suc­cess in three Saudi cities


RIYADH: More than 200 Saudi game de­vel­op­ers and en­thu­si­asts con­verged in three dif­fer­ent cities this week­end for the Global Game Jam (GGJ).

GGJ is a world­wide event in which par­tic­i­pants meet up and form teams to cre­ate a playable game demon­stra­tion in only three days.

On of­fer this week­end were a va­ri­ety of sub­mis­sions from Saudi par­tic­i­pants, rang­ing from video games to board and card games, and even games that re­quired noth­ing more than pen, pa­per and imag­i­na­tion.

One of the en­tries was a game that was con­trolled by the player’s thoughts, func­tion­ing by read­ing their brain waves.

At least half of the par­tic­i­pat­ing de­vel­op­ers were fe­male. The women’s event in Riyadh alone at­tracted more than 70 par­tic­i­pants who pro­duced six games al­to­gether.

The event in Alkho­bar at­tracted 83 de­vel­op­ers of both gen­ders, who man­aged to com­plete 11 games. The men’s event in Riyadh con­sisted of 36 par­tic­i­pants who pro­duced 10 games and the Jed­dah meet-up of 21 sub­mit­ted three.

“It’s my first time par­tic­i­pat­ing in a game jam,” said Abrar Fahd, from Riyadh, “and my first time pro­gram­ming a game. But I loved the ex­pe­ri­ence and re­ally en­joyed work­ing with my team. Even though we didn’t even know each other be­fore the event, we pro­duced some­thing I’m very proud of.”

Arwa Al-Ra­zooq, also from Riyadh, was equally en­thu­si­as­tic. “I had no idea that there were so many fe­male game de­vel­op­ers in Riyadh un­til I saw how many peo­ple were here,” she said, “but see­ing them all in one place filled me with so much pride and joy. I can’t wait to do this again.”

“This was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Ab­dul­ma­lik Zubailah of Den of Devs, one of the Jed­dah event or­ga­niz­ers. “Def­i­nitely a suc­cess in terms of host­ing a game jam, and we would be crazy to miss the chance to host one again.”

Founded by the In­ter­na­tional Game De­vel­op­ers As­so­ci­a­tion in 2009, GGJ holds a Guin­ness World Record for the largest game de­vel­op­ment event. De­vel­op­ers and game en­thu­si­asts of all skill lev­els are in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in the world’s largest si­mul­ta­ne­ous game de­vel­oper event, which lasts the en­tire week­end.

Tariq Mukht­tar, a prom­i­nent in­die game de­vel­oper, could not have been hap­pier with the Alkho­bar event. “This was prob­a­bly the best GGJ event in the whole GCC,” he said. “The or­ga­niz­ers pro­vided a great, fun-filled at­mos­phere that ev­ery­one felt re­laxed about in­ter­act­ing and work­ing to­gether in.”

Mo­hammed Al-Yaqoub, owner and man­ager of BrightUP, spon­sor of the Alkho­bar event, said: “We are happy to con­trib­ute to the build­ing up of the game de­vel­oper com­mu­nity in the King­dom, and are ex­cited to host next year’s event and meet new creative peo­ple.”

Home, left, and Dirty War, right, are the board and card games sub­mit­ted by Saudi par­tic­i­pants at the women’s event in Riyadh. (AN photos)

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