Athens Game Jam 2016 took place from Friday April 1st through Sunday the 3rd, finishing off the first official Athens GA Startup Week with the annual 48-hour marathon game building event. Now in its 5th year, part of the challenge at each Game Jam is to create a unique game based on an assigned theme revealed to teams at the start of the weekend. This year’s theme was “Duplicates,” and each of the 13 games created between 6pm Friday and 6pm Sunday relate to that theme in some fashion.
Hosted by the Athens Chapter of the Georgia Game Developers Association, the 2016 Game Jam gathered 44 participants at the Studio 1 space on Broad Street (formerly UGA’s Environmental Design Studios) at 6pm Friday April 1st to review the guidelines, form teams, and learn the theme for the weekend. Teams were then given 48 hours to build a video or board game to be completed, showcased, and voted on by 4pm Sunday April 3rd.
Games created over the weekend ranged from the elegantly simple to impressively complex, including a table-top adventure with scenarios dictated by a companion app, memorization and puzzle challenges incorporating virtual reality, two-player scenarios in which gamers must solve a puzzle for each other, and multi-screen environments to navigate simultaneously with feline prowess. Plus epic ninja fighting, music-driven tower battles, and a mad-scientist suffering from the effects of a cloning accident. All 13 games created at the 2016 Athens Game Jam can be viewed (and some downloaded for play!) at itch.io/jam/2016-athens-game-jam.
Prizes were awarded at the grand conclusion on Sunday at 6pm, after a period of open game play and voting by participants. This year’s winners were:
Best Art: Copy Cat by Zane Everett, Annie Suther, Alex Higgins, and Nina Smith
Best Tabletop Game: The Duplicates by Henry Butler, Joseph Butler, Michael Matlock, and William Moss
Best Sound: A Song of Earth, Wind & Fire by Ian Edwards, Jeff Porter, Dane Walsh, Jazen Brown, and Thomas Bailey
Best Game Design: You Solve My Puzzle by Zach Smith and Aaron Wilson
Best Implementation: Chaos Clones by Ian Keane and Ben Burgh
Grand Prize for Best Game: Double Take by Janet Chen and Michael Melatti
Organizer Stephen Borden, said about the inclusion this year of a tabletop game category: “There is an exciting burgeoning local tabletop game design scene, thanks in large part to The Rook & Pawn hosting events for local designers to play-test their games. This year we were lucky to partner with The Rook & Pawn on a best tabletop game award at the game jam to further encourage the creation of tabletop games, and it’s something I hope continues to grow in the future.”
The annual Athens Game Jam is a volunteer-run event made possible through a community of support from local businesses and nonprofits, including THINC@UGA, Paperboy Games, RoundSphere, The Rook & Pawn, Wonder Bar, KA Artists Studios, Kelly's Corner, Tyche’s Games, the Georgia Game Developers Association, Athens-based education technology company Cogent Education, and Four Athens. Donations help provide food for game jammers throughout the weekend, as well as the excellent prizes awarded to winning teams.
Thank you to everyone who came to participate, support, and celebrate the creative culture of Athens through this unique annual event. Interested in getting involved? Find the Georgia Game Developers Association Athens Chapter on Facebook at facebook.com/groups/AthensGameDevs/.
All Photos: Samantha Ruggieri