Global Game Jam, 2017

So I live in Los Angeles now, and it’s fantastic. I’m three weeks in, and I’ve already met so many wonderful people!

This past weekend, I had one of the most fun, invigorating, and validating experiences of my life - and it started with a broken laptop.

The Global Game Jam (http://globalgamejam.org/) is an incredible event, boasting 701 jam sites that span most of the world. I signed up for the University of Southern California site a couple weeks in advance, and did some practice cues on my 8-year-old Macbook to prepare for the event. And then the night before the jam started, my laptop fell from a pretty considerable height. I froze in terror for a few mute moments, picked it up, and slumped into a chair with relief as I saw the device was functioning.

I arrived at the jam on Friday, excited to have some fun and make something. I met a bunch of wonderful people right away, and after the Extra Credits keynote address, we got right to work. When I went to turn on my laptop, it booted up like it usually did, but after a minute or so loading the OS, it shut off. After about 5 attempts to boot it, I feared that my GGJ experience had ended. My team already had another audio guy, so why would they want me to work remotely? Wouldn’t that be an inconvenience to the team and defeat the purpose of the jam?

The whole team was wonderfully supportive, however, and were open to me going home and composing there. So I forgot about the laptop that I couldn’t fix, made a plan with Camden (the other audio guy - he’s fantastic, here’s a link to his SoundCloud), and went home get a decent night's sleep. The next morning, I surprised myself with my productiveness, and finished all the music I planned to in time for lunch. I brought it to the team at USC, and they responded very positively to it. I then figured out a way to do sound effects on one of the school computers, and was able to stay at USC for the rest of the jam.

Our game, Bathoven, was just barely uploaded in time. Camden and I had numerous sound features that never made it into the build. But as the jammers went around, putting their little voting stickers on the sheets of paper for each game, we started noticing an accumulation of stickers on the “Best Sound” category. And when it came time to announce the winners, we were given Best Sound!

*Check out Bathoven here: https://wearebat.itch.io/bathoven*

This experience taught me a lot, and I share it here because I think there are some important lessons for fledgling artists within. First being that a good night’s sleep and a warm cup of tea can do wonders for productivity. Second is that things will always go wrong, and when they do it’s important to take a step back, collect yourself, and figure out: a) what still needs to be done, and b) how you can do it. And third, being part of a team is an amazing thing. It’s possibly the most valuable way to grow as a creative person, no matter what one’s vocation is. And it’s fun! I’ve already played a few rounds of Overwatch with some of my teammates from We Are Bat, and I look forward to showing them how truly derpy of an Overwatch player I am :)

I love you all - stay curious and make amazing things!

-Neil