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UA Little Rock to host Global Game Jam Jan. 25-27

Photo: Back row (L to R): Zack Bolt, Tanner Marshall, Geoffrey Townsley, Alex Barton, Joe Williams, and Kyle Hooks. Front row: Olivia Dunlap, Robbie Hunt, and Loren Snow.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock will host a Global Game Jam Jan. 25-27 for those who are interested in creating a game in 48 hours. 

Global Game Jam is the world’s largest game jam event taking place around the world at different locations. The event is similar to a hackathon but is focused on game development.  

Nearly 43,000 people participated in Global Game Jam 2018, resulting in 8,597 games developed at 803 sites in 108 countries. At UA Little Rock, 10 people participated in the university’s first Global Game Jam last year, resulting in the creation of five games based on the theme of transmission.

While design and coding skills are important in game development, the event’s organizers encourage anyone interested in games to participate.

“The great thing about games is how interdisciplinary they are,” said Olivia Dunlap, a graduate student in computer science who is organizing the event with alumnus Robbie Hunt.  “Most games require programming and art skills, but writers, musicians, actors, and more can all contribute to a great game. For independent game production, marketing, social media management, team management, and other production-related skills are also necessary. But what that means for an event like the Global Game Jam is that you can enter with little-to-no art or programming experience and still make a game that is fun, or that tells a great story.”

Dunlap noted that there are several programs that the Global Game Jam organizers will demonstrate to participants that will easily help them break into the world of game development.

“There are really accessible tools such as Twine or Bitsy or Unity that make it really easy to get started, and there will be people like me around who will be happy to mentor for those tools,” she said. “For example, we had an attendee at last year’s jam who had never touched the Unity game engine before, but by the end of the 48 hours, he and his team had made a really cool game. If you’re a programmer, an artist, a writer, a designer, a mathematician, or are just plain bored and want to try and make something cool, you should definitely try out the Global Game Jam!”

Participants will gather at UA Little Rock on Friday, Jan. 25, be divided into teams, watch a short video keynote with advice from leading game developers, and then a secret theme will be announced. Teams have 48 hours to design, develop, create, test, and make a new game based on the theme.

The game jam will be held in the CRUX Lab in Stabler Hall Room 603 from 3 p.m. Jan. 25, until 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27, when participants’ games will be revealed. Snacks, a sound booth, green screen, and a limited number of computers with game development tools will be available, but participants are encouraged to bring their own computers.

UA Little Rock’s event is hosted by the Department of Rhetoric and Writing and Little Rock Game Designers. Dr. Joe Williams, associate professor or rhetoric and writing, is the faculty advisor.

Register for the event by signing up at the Global Game Jam website. For more information, email Dunlap at

In the upper right photo, these 10 gamers participated in UA Little Rock’s first Global Game Jam in 2018, creating five games in 48 hours. Back row (L to R): Zack Bolt, Tanner Marshall, Geoffrey Townsley, Alex Barton, Joe Williams, and Kyle Hooks. Front row: Olivia Dunlap, Robbie Hunt, and Loren Snow.