48-hour video game challenge begins Friday

Nathan Hager, wtop.com

ROCKVILLE, Md. – If you ever pulled an all-nighter to study for a test in high school or write a term paper in college, then you might have an idea of the pressure a couple dozen tech savvy people will be under this weekend.

But unlike a multiple choice exam or 20-page essay, the final result of this competition is a little more fun.

Teams from around the world will be taking part in the “Global Game Jam”, a competition to create the most fun and interesting video game possible in just 48 hours.

“They’ll bring their sleeping bags, although usually the first night they don’t sleep,” says Aaron Oldenburg, a professor of simulation and digital entertainment at the University of Baltimore, who is helping to organize the local leg of the event at the Universities at Shady Grove.

The participants will gather Friday afternoon and be divided into design teams, after learning the secret theme to which their games will adhere.

“It’s a creative constraint, and also ensures they haven’t been creating these games ahead of time,” Oldenburg says.

The international teams won’t be necessarily competing against each other. Organizers say the goal is to create a collaborative atmosphere. Teams will be able to communicate with their overseas counterparts via webcam.

Still, at the local leg of the Game Jam, a panel of judges will be on hand to play-test the games and award prizes based on how well they follow the theme. Last year’s theme was extinction.

Before the competition begins, participants will get a pep talk from Bruce Nesmith of Bethesda Softworks, lead designer of the award-winning game “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.”

The competition begins at 6 p.m. Friday and runs through 6 p.m. Sunday at the Camille Kendall Academic Center at the Universities at Shady Grove.

Attendance is free, if you want to watch a bunch of bleary-eyed game designers in action.

Oldenburg says he’s looking forward to “that second night, when everyone’s all tired and sweaty and exhausted, but really excited because they just finished this game.”

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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