TOJam 2012 - Featured

TOJam 2012 Day One

TOJam 2011 Organizers
TOJam organizers address the troops at the 2011 Jam

TCAF may have been crazy, but it’s nothing compared to the encore. TOJam 2012 is currently underway and I’m getting a crash course in game design in one of the most intense creative environments imaginable.

What is TOJam, you ask? TOJam is an annual video game jam organized by Jim and Em McGinley, the co-founders of Big Pants Games and all-around awesome people. The weekend-long event kicks off Friday at 10 AM and lasts until Sunday night at 8 PM, during which time a few dozen teams of varying shapes and sizes are tasked to develop a full video game in accordance with a pre-selected theme.

Since 2012 marks the seventh year of jamming – the event has been ominously dubbed The Sevening – our theme is ironically non-apocalyptic. Specifically, we’ve been told that “The World is NOT Ending,” although I might need to remind myself of that at several points throughout the weekend. I’m a charter member of Team Apocalypse Later, so despite a complete lack of game design or programming experience, I’ll be bunkering down with approximately 400 other individuals for a three-day binge that will (hopefully) culminate with something resembling a video game.

I’m more of a writer than a developer, so I’ll also be chronicling the experience with a development diary to provide my take on the jam from the perspective of a participant rather than a journalist. I make no promises about daily updates – it’s likely that my brain will have turned into silly putty by the middle of the day on Saturday – but I will be tweeting on behalf of Team Apocalypse later so follow me @harry_houdini if you want to play along at home.

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Us jammers, meanwhile, will be holed up on the top two floors of the George Brown College School of Design. I wouldn’t recommend making an appearance at ground zero – 400 people can get pretty ripe after three consecutive days of programming – but you will absolutely want to check out a few of the games that emerge during The Sevening. Game jams are founts for crazy games and even crazier ideas – last year’s event brought us the inimitable Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure – so there’s no telling how inspiration will strike during a weekend on which the world most certainly isn’t coming to an end.

As for me, my full development diary will run on Dork Shelf sometime next week, as will my interview with co-founders Jim and Em McGinley. TOJam has officially begun so stay tuned for more updates from The Sevening.

Be sure to check out some of Dork Shelf’s previous TOJam coverage, including this video feature we produced way back in 2010.

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