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Eat. Sleep. Game.

By Rebecca Basu

AU will host international game design and development conference to foster innovation, creativity.

They are students, entrepreneurs or computer developers, all who love playing, creating and designing games. Together, they will descend on American University for a game-making binge, taking an idea from concept to complete game in one intense weekend as participants in the 2014 Global Game Jam™.

“If you have ever wanted to make a game, be a part of a team, or go outside of your usual working method, then a game jam is for you,” said AU School of Communication Professor Lindsay Grace. “The Global Game Jam™ gives people from AU and from the Washington, D.C. area the opportunity to solve problems through game design and have an incredible experience in collaboration and inventiveness. Participants will have fun, make new friends and learn new skills. AU is hosting the first of what will be many jams to come.”

Registration for the event has been extended to Monday, Jan. 20.

Professor Grace is leading development of the Persuasive Play game studio at AU, a laboratory for professional education, innovative production in the field of social impact games, the study of persuasive games (or those designed to change people’s interests, activities or behavior) and the use of games to educate. In fall 2013, Grace and Professor Michael Treanor, with the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Computer Science, joined AU to launch a games curriculum and research agenda. AU offered two courses this semester, Game Development and The Design of Play.  

GGJ will take place Friday, Jan. 24 through Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014 in more than 30 countries around the world. GGJ was established in 2009 as an International Game Developers Association event. Games created in prior global game jams that entered the marketplace include Mirror Moon and Lovers in a Dangerous Space Time. Both were successfully released as mobile applications for iOS and Steam.  

At AU, the game jam will take place in the historic and recently renovated McKinley building, home of AU’s School of Communication. Participants eat, sleep and work at the event. They will spend 48 hours on location designing games around a topic that will be revealed on the first day of the conference. The event is open to the public, and participants must be 18 or older.

Teams at AU will focus on game design models centered on creating independent games – similar to the experience of creating an independent movie, Grace explains.

“We’ll have smaller teams creating products for a smaller, more discriminating audience,” said Grace, who has created some of the most celebrated independent games in the world, including Wait, identified by The Games for Change Festival as one of the 10 best social impact games of the last decade. “This fits with AU’s mission of ‘games with a purpose’—or games that go beyond entertainment—pursuing how games can change people’s behavior and how to produce socially responsible games.”