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CAT students participate in annual Global Game Jam

By: Andrew Mees, Director of College and Athletics Communications      communications@bloomfield.edu

Creative Arts and Technology students spent the weekend taking part in a worldwide creative experience Jan. 24-26, as 18 students and a pair of alumni participated in the sixth-annual Global Game Jam at Branchburg, N.J.’s Raritan Valley Community College.

The junior college served as one of 485 worldwide locations, with 73 countries represented during the 72-hour event. Teams of participants worked through the duration of the festivities – even sleeping on site – to create video game experiences in the mold of the event’s theme; that we do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.

Their trip made possible by Bloomfield’s Annual Co-Curricular Innovation Grant, students were able to work alongside other undergraduates and faculty from Rutgers University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, The College of New Jersey and Raritan Valley, creating a collaborative environment filled with cross-team support and innovation.

"This is our fifth year participating in the event, and students have found it to be both extremely challenging and rewarding,” Assistant Professor of Creative Arts and Technology Tom Toynton said. “All year long they look forward to going, and this was the third consecutive event for some of them. Supporting the students and enabling their attendance at Global Game Jam is extremely important, as it provides a positive growth experience that reaches far beyond what can be provided in the classroom."

Founded in 2009, the Global Game Jam is a volunteer-run organization that has seen its signature event expand to incredible heights during its six-year existence. In 2013, 63 countries were represented, with over 12,000 participants in 319 locations taking part in the global phenomenon.

The weekend affair challenged students in Bloomfield’s video game design program to expand their horizons and learn new technical skills, providing a great opportunity to work alongside their classmates to create engaging content for the masses.

“I had planned on making something totally different when I came to this event, but now I am doing animation for my team’s submission,” said Christian Millis, a junior CAT student. “This has really forced me to learn new things within video game design, things I wasn’t sure I would be able to do. It’s really been a great experience.”

“This has all been pretty surreal,” said senior Aaron Garland. “What should take several months of work is crammed into 48 hours, so it is a real crunch. It forces you to focus and create something from start to finish, which is a real test.”

At the conclusion of the weekend, all teams from around the globe uploaded their creations to the Jam’s official website (globalgamejam.org/2014/games), where they can be shared and played with Gamers from around the world.   For the collection of Bloomfield students past and present, the experience was one they know is something few higher education programs can offer in the cutting-edge concentration.

“Having the opportunity to come to things like this shows that Bloomfield cares about the growth of its students,” Garland said.  “We are very lucky as students to be able to participate in things like this, especially through grant funding.  It gives us the opportunity to really grow, and apply what we’ve learned in our classes to create something people will hopefully enjoy.”

Click here to view a Flickr Photo Gallery of Bloomfield's students at the Global Game Jam.