The Global Game Jam 2018 has now started in all sites around the world, which means we can finally announce to the public this year's theme, which is...
The theme reveal clip at the end of the GGJ18 video showed radio towers, synapses, cars, gears, and different types of communications, giving a few ideas of the many ways this word can be interpreted.
Can you talk about the process that led to the theme decision?
Laura: Coming to a group decision about the theme was a constant process of brainstorming, narrowing ideas, generating new ones from that and brainstorming again, et cetera. We tried to suggest concepts that could be interpreted in many ways, however it was applied to the resulting game – mechanics, design, construction, or thematically.
What set “Transmission” apart from the other theme options you considered?
Taylor: “Transmission” really stood out among the other finalist themes, because it seemed to do a lot of the things we wanted from a theme in the best ways. A lot of the other themes had issues where they would be either too vague for new jammers or too constraining for experienced ones. Some wouldn’t translate well or be easily communicated through images or video. “Transmission” just seemed to meet all of these criteria and more! A really fantastic thing about this theme is its flexibility in what it can mean, in English at least, it can be about car transmissions, radio transmissions / communication, or even the transmission of diseases. There’s just a good wide range of interpretations that lets people come at the jam from a lot of different angles – without them we would all be making the same game!
What makes a good game jam theme, in your opinion?
Taylor: I think a good game jam theme is similar to what I like to see in certain game designs. A theme that doesn’t hand-hold or entice the jammer to make a really specific kind of game. Rather a theme that is very evocative and supportive of many different approaches to the jam. I’m personally not a big fan of themes that evoke very “gamey” things, but am more of an advocate for bringing in ideas from outside of games. I think a good theme entices jammers to bring a diversity of ideas, feelings, and experiences to the games that they make – as this is a place for many new and fantastic ideas to come forward! I personally want to be very interested in all of the games that get made and the differences between them, rather than everyone at the jam for the most part making the same game – or the same kind of games. Of course that’s inevitable, but I think it’s good to inspire jammers as much as possible to think outside of the box!
Which games would you like to see made during the Global Game Jam this year?
Laura: I’d love to see more intensely personal and weird games. I really like altgames and trashgames, so I’m especially interested in work from people who haven’t necessarily made a game before, but have a story to tell and choose games as the medium to tell it. I’m also a big fan of physical games – card games, board games, puzzles, etc. I’ve been jamming since 2013 and every year we make something that’s a hybrid of physical and digital components. So I always get really excited to see those.
Taylor: Haha I think I don’t really want to answer this question actually – I’m not someone that likes to have expectations or fore-sight into something as wonderful, complex, and creative as a jam this big! Of course i have ideas about how “Transmission” itself can be interpreted, but I’m very curious and excited for what all of the jammers do with it! I do love all of the different people that come out to this events, but especially being in the games industry, I want to give a shout out to LGBTQ+ jammers & minorities at this jam. I’d very much like to see the stories and games that they make – and I want to encourage them to express and make those the things they want to make (where it’s safe to)!