Global Game Jam Rides Wave to Success

game-jamSyracuse University students created ideas for new digital and analog games at Global Game Jam 2017, the world’s biggest game jam. Held in Bird Library on January 20-22, the event linked over two dozen local students with participants from six continents to create themed games.

The weekend-long event was powered by the Blackstone LaunchPad, in partnership with the Department of English (CAS), the Computer Art and Animation program in the Department of Transmedia (VPA), Information Technology and Services (ITS), the School of Information Studies, and the Syracuse University Libraries.

The theme of this year’s game jam was “Waves.” Teams created working prototypes of video, mobile, web-based, iOS/Android, board, card, tabletop, and other “wave-themed” games. They worked in the concept of waves from the perspective of science, art, technology, nature, and the built environment. They also embedded the concept at many levels of game creation, from audio, graphics, code, and gameplay, as well as thematic aspects.

At the conclusion of the jam, teams presented their game concepts to judges who are area professionals in the game industry.  Teams and their games were recognized in categories such as biggest blockbuster potential, most cinematic, best player interaction, and best platform game mechanic.

Judges included SU alumnus John Spatola ’07 (Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science) who is founder, owner, and CEO of Lake Effect Applications. He was joined by Lisa Spatola ’08 and Josh Burns, also from Lake Effect Applications, which creates mobile experiences for core gamers. Other judges were Angelo (AJ) Damiano ’18 (Whitman School of Management), founder of Power-Spike, a Syracuse University student startup in the game industry, and Glenn Allen G’01, who is an expert in software development and design.

Games by SU students were uploaded on the official website,, to be shared with more than 36,000 jammers in 702 sites in 95 countries. More than 7,000 new games were created worldwide that weekend by artists, musicians, coders, designers, writers, producers, and other creative talent. Game concepts spanned desktop PCs, handheld touch screens, eye-tracking, virtual reality, physical electronics, and paper-and-cardboard tabletop games. All of the games produced in the event are open source and can be accessed on-line and played at

The event, organized and coordinated by Syracuse University’s Games Studies Research Group, brought together two new SU Libraries’ programs, the Digital Scholarship Space (DSS) and the Blackstone LaunchPad. The DSS is a collaborative pilot project by Syracuse University ITS and the University Libraries, based in Bird Library, that provides students and faculty access to a variety of technologies for software design, gaming, data visualization, digital humanities projects, and digital mapping. The Blackstone LaunchPad is an experiential learning service center, connecting Syracuse University’s innovation ecosystem with a global network that provides support for aspiring entrepreneurs.

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