RVA Game Jam challenges local developers

Big-budget video games go through a lengthy development process, often taking years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in production. One event, however, aims to challenge developers by putting a 48-hour cap on the intricate process.

The RVA Game Jam will be held Jan. 28-30 at the VCUarts Depot and is free to the public. New York Times video game critic and “Shall we play a game?” podcast host Chris Sullentrop will deliver the keynote speech at 6 p.m. on Friday, and the Game Jam begins at 8 p.m. on the same day.

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Photo by This Little Piggy Team

The RVA Game Jam is a local spinoff of Global Game Jam, which aims to test developers’ skills while entertaining and educating audiences on the often-misunderstood task.

“You can’t make a full game at at Game Jam, but you come up with an idea and find out if people are into it, and then developers, sometimes, expand those ideas into full games,” Sullentrop said.

Programming coordinator for RVA Game Jam Lauren Vincelli said game development is more that just writing code — it includes elements of art, design, music, business and media management.

“We felt like (Sullentrop’s) articulate, explorative and introspective analysis of video games would provide participants with an important insight to the consumption of games,” Vincelli said.

For nearly four years, Vincelli and Will Blanton, the other head of RVA Game Jam, have held many events in an attempt to connect the game development community of Richmond.

“We want to create a supportive, encouraging environment for people in the area to explore video game development” Vincelli said.

Teams have only two days to create a concept and game mechanics while also developing a prototype, which will be judged. Similar events in the past have produced award-winning, nationally distributed games.

Game Jams are usually the birthplace of many games that have already been released, including 2013’s indie hit “Surgeon Simulator,” and the more recent “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes.”

Vincelli wants people to not only compete and hone their skills, but also network with others and mentor new participants.

Samuel Goodrich, Contributing Writer

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