Guildford Game Jams: Why I LOVE them!

Alyx Jones talks to us about the upcoming Guildford Game Festival Game Jam and gives all the details on how YOU can get involved!

As you may have heard us mention once or twice, Guildford is home to lots of talented and passionate game devs, diligently working in world renowned GU studios on HUGE titles. But what does a game developer do if they want to stretch their game-making muscles outside of work? They Game Jam!

Game Jams are an opportunity for developers to work in teams they wouldn’t ordinarily, quite often under a 24/48 hour time limit, to create something playable - whether it ends up being a whole game or just a level.

Here in Guildford, we’re lucky to have a local, game jam aficionado - Alyx Jones - who has been a big part of the Guildford Game Community for many years. We’re pleased to announce that Alyx will be running one of her famous Game Jams especially for the Guildford Games Festival!

This year the Jam will start at 5pm Friday 3rd December and ends at 5pm on Sunday 5th December . The event will be remote, so you don’t need to know anyone in the area or travel to take part, just get your comfiest coding trousers/art polish pullover/game design dungarees and join from your sofa! There’s a dedicated Discord channel for the Jam that you can find via the GG Devcord and we’ve heard Alyx has put together some tasty lookin’ care packages for all involved!

Here's what Alyx had to say about Game Jams and why she loves them:

For anyone who doesn’t know, a game jam is where you try to develop a game in a short time limit (usually 48 hours although some are longer). While you can create your game solo, the most enjoyable thing about jams for me is the team element. They can be done online - as the well known Ludum Dare Jam is) - or in person, as Global Game Jam was before the pandemic.


I first started going to game jams when I was a student at the University of Surrey and working out how to network and connect with the local area, given all the games companies and developers in Guildford. My first ever game jam was at Rocketdesk on the Surrey Research Park back in November 2016, and the theme was “Two Choices”. It’s always difficult meeting new people for the first time, especially when you’re new to a community but everyone running it were incredibly friendly and welcoming, and as an audio person I ended up making music for a few different games being made over the weekend.

From then I was hooked, the creative freedom that we all get a chance to explore during jams is really rewarding, even if the final game result isn’t always well-functioning or even functioning at all. I’ve lost count of how many jams I’ve done now but while remote jams can be enjoyable, it’s so different from taking part in the Guildford Jams in person. I personally learnt so much from working with teams of people from different disciplines such as programming and art that I hadn’t had much contact with before I started doing jams. It provided an amazing opportunity for me while I was still learning, to learn how game development cycles work in a rapid environment but also how to work as part of a team.



What I really love about game jams, as I went to more, is being treated as an equal part of the team and being a part of every aspect of the development from brainstorming ideas, thinking up themes and stories, to the last hour rush of trying to get all the assets in at the last minute! It’s really lovely being able to come up with a game idea and create something to showcase, all in 48 hours. Creativity within boundaries is one of the most powerful things for anyone artistic, so having a theme and whittling down ideas but still having the creative freedom to ultimately do what you want is really refreshing.

In my first game jam I created a song for a game about “Sushi Dogs” with little dog barks, as well as a ukulele theme for the start of a friendly shoot em up (with happy screaming bullets), that also included a rave mode (with music to match). The variety of games that different teams create can range from super fun to deeply emotive, and it’s great to be a small part of so many different projects over the years.



Recently over the pandemic I’ve run the Game Jams in tandem with the Guildford Games Festival however it’s been a real challenge trying to encapsulate the friendly and welcoming vibes that I first experienced from the Guildford community. It’s been difficult as they’ve had to be online given the concerns about coronavirus, but we tried really hard last year to have everyone on Discord together and do kick off calls so everyone who wants to can see each other and chat on video. This year we’re super lucky to have sponsorship so have put together some care packages for everyone who takes part and I personally try to facilitate getting teams together so nobody feels left out. I’m really excited to run the Guildford Games Festival Game Jam again this year and see what everyone creates, and am so hopeful next year we can jam again in person.

There’s nothing better than being able to gather with like minded creatives and game jams provide such an awesome creative outlet for everyone who takes part. I originally came hoping to build a professional network and create some cool games, but stayed for a new found form of self expression and some lifelong friends!

We couldn’t agree more, Alyx! Whilst we’re here, we wanted to extend a HUGE thank you to Liam de Valmency, Ben Ward, Lana Zgombić, Lorraine Ansell, Jon Kelliher and yourself, of course, for being the driving and organising forces behind the local jamming community over the years. We appreciate you!

If you want to see the treasures that Alyx and her merry band of Game Jammers have made to date, we’re… well, to be more accurate the aforementioned Liam is here for you. He’s collated all the previous games here!

Sign up to take part in 2021's Guildford.Games Festival Jam here.