Budding Developers Use Buffalo Game Space’s “Game Games” to Hone Their Skills


Buffalo Game Space is a non-profit organization trying to get more people into tech through the lens of game development. Last weekend he held his 13th local game jam. It’s an event where game developers have 48 hours to design and bring a game to life.

Credit Nick Lippa / WBFO

David Rood presenting his game on Sunday evening

Tucked away on the fourth floor of the Tri Main Center for four years, Buffalo Game Space aims to teach people about programming, digital art, modeling, animation, music, sound design, and writing – everything in between. in the creation of video games.

“Games are a unique medium in the sense that they require several different disciplines to create, as opposed to being a painter in traditional media, where a painter can paint a picture or a musician can write a song by himself”, said Buffalo Game Space Board of Directors Chairman John Futscher. “Traditionally, games have been a collaborative medium that requires many different talents to create. So we teach a little of all of these things. “

Futscher said game jams, like this weekend’s, are incredible opportunities to learn a lot in a very short period of time.

“In two days, all of these people here will be walking away with a game that they made themselves and they can put it on a college app, their portfolio, or just share it with their friends,” he said.

Games can be created by a team or an individual. A secret theme is announced at the start of the event. This weekend was “a wonder”. The participants then reflected as a collective.

“How about a Buffalo miracle game?” How long will the winter last? said a participant.

A few other thoughts included navigating a world without visuals and just sound, wandering through endless doors and inevitably several joke ideas followed. These included an idea for a Guitar Hero game with Oasis’ “Wonderwall” being the only song.

But with limited time, you couldn’t take too long to laugh at musical games and “Wonderwall”. The group got back on track in due course and continued to define their concepts.

“It’s a one-player game where one player is Santa Claus, one player is a kid and the kid tries to catch Santa Claus and Santa Claus tries to break into the house,” explained a developer.

“Do you mean giving gifts?” Someone else asked.

“Nah. He’s breaking in,” he replied, as the room burst into laughter.

“Lockpicking skills!” A man shouted from behind, which generated even more laughter.

Not everyone in the room knew each other. This type of interaction allowed participants to talk and share new concepts.

“Once people think about it a bit, they start to cluster around different ideas. That’s when teams start to form, ”said Futscher.

David Rood has been having fun coding and making games since the early 1980s, but recently took online tutorials to improve his skills. Game jams helped him test new ideas.

“The first one, I didn’t know what I was getting into. I had fun with it and learned new techniques, ”said Rood. “The last Game Jam I got to and I had a new programming tool. Rather than coding it, it was all visual coding. I learned it from scratch and did it in the game jam and my daughter and I did a game together. It came out pretty cool.

There were a few fathers with their daughters playing games at the event. For Rood, it has become an annual tradition.

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Credit Nick Lippa / WBFO

David Rood and his daughter making their own games

“She thinks I’m crazy because I’m sitting in front of my computer and staring at the screen playing games and not really going anywhere. So now she’s getting a taste for it, ”said Rood. “The first time we came here, she created her own game from scratch. Having it on screen, I was quite proud of it. At the last jam we did a game together and this time she and her boyfriend are going to do a game together.

Buffalo Game Space vice chairman Chris Langford has often said that after a bigger turnout, for the first night, people start to give up, but most have stayed until the end of This year.

“It kind of fades. It kind of boils down to the people who are really into it, ”Langford said.

Sunday night, more than half a dozen games were presented. Langford said the marathon process was grueling but satisfying. Most of the participants still had to work the next day.

“You woke up late Friday night. You woke up on Saturday night. You ran 110% the whole time trying to get this thing to work and make it work. If you get it right, you’re going to be burnt out, but it’s a very rewarding feeling because you’ve actually done what you thought was just an idea on Friday, it’ll come to fruition by the end of the weekend. It’s something not only that you can see and play with, but you can also share and show other people and have them play too, ”Langford said.

Whether for fun or for a career, Langford said the practice leads to growth.

“Their skill set has increased tenfold just by attending and participating in these events,” he said. “Art is improving. The technicality and mastery of programming show through and the mechanics (are) more and more complex, the game becomes more and more complex. The quality of the music improves. The audio quality improves. Writing is improving. All of these skills are needed to make a game. You see people doing it over and over again, they get better. It is very exciting to see.

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As Buffalo Game Space has grown over the past half-decade, game jams continue to connect people interested in making games. Futscher hopes to continue to see new faces.

“The only thing that keeps us from growing even more is that people don’t know we’re here. So we are trying to get the word out to as many people as possible, ”he said. “We’re constantly finding new people interested in making games. There really are endless ways to get involved in making games if you’re interested in any of the disciplines that go with it.

A global game jam will be held later in January next year. Buffalo Game Space is the representative of western New York.

More information is available on Buffalo Game Space’s website.

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