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Innovation & Startups

How a family joined the Pittsburgh Global Game Jam and won the Google prize

What happens when you bring gamers together for 48-hours of intense, sleepless game development?
The Global Game Jam, the world’s largest game creating event, took place last weekend in Pittsburgh and around the world. Think of it as the Olympic event for game development, one that gets a global buzz going while investigating what it takes to put together a cool and creative game.
The Pittsburgh Game Jam got underway at CMU’s ETC on Friday with the announcement of this year’s secret theme: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” From there, neurons began firing around the world and for the next 48 hours.
By the time it was over, 4,207 games were generated from more than 70 different countries.
“Some folks show up as teams, others arrive and hook up with people they meet at the jam.Then they stock up on pizza and spend the next two days working feverishly to complete whatever their sleep-deprived caffeine-infused imaginations can dream up,” says Gary Gardiner, creator of Dream Flight Adventure.
Gardiner made the weekend a family affair, forming a team with his wife and three sons, the eldest of whom is seven. The boys developed a storyline about two boys who live on a farm and mistakenly release all the chickens from the chicken coop. From this premise, “Chicken Chase” was born, with the boys contributing on design and game obstacles.
Gardiner developed the software and his wife worked on the music. The game won the Google Award for Technical Achievement; an iPad App will be out in two weeks.
While most of the participants were pulling all-nighters at ETC, Gardiner and family got some sleep. But “it was really neat to have my boys up there playing with professional game developers,” he says. "I pride myself on being a pretty creative guy, but this idea would have never have happened without my kids. It was a great family project.”

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Gary Gardiner
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