Branden Middendorf - Global Game Jam 2019

Branden Middendorf plays Crab Jam at the 2019 Global Game Jam on Sunday, Jan. 27 in the Teachers-Dyer Complex

The University of Cincinnati recently hosted a local program of the Global Game Jam — an international game development event where nine teams are given 48 hours to create a game.

Each year, the Global Game Jam adopts a theme. This year, it was “What does home mean to you?” Teams can interpret the theme at their own discretion, but all games must adhere to it.

“We had teams taking the theme in all sorts of creative directions,” said Clayton Belcher, a local chapter co-organizer. “First thoughts ranged from free food to no pants.” 

To download and play some of the most popular games from this year’s event, click the titles below and scroll to the bottom of the page: 

“Home Is Where Your Stuff Is”

This creative title used virtual reality (VR) to incorporate this year’s theme. Bryan Kaelin, an artist for the game, explained his inspiration behind the concept.

“You’re basically using VR to pack your possessions from one house to another,” Kaelin said. “You load your moving truck, and then you drive your moving truck across an obstacle course to get to your new house, and you’re basically graded by how many objects you successfully made it to the new house with.” 

“Day of the Dad”

This game was popular among eventgoers due to its retro feel — almost reminiscent of a Game Boy Advance game. Austin Huebner, a Northern Kentucky University alumnus with a degree in computer science, worked as a programmer for the game. 

“What you’re tasked with doing is to feed ravenous kids junk food … and you have to go and make all of the food as the orders come in and toss them into the crowd of kids,” Huebner said. 

Brandon Song, who worked on “Day of the Dad,” enjoyed the teamwork aspect of the event.

“I’ve spent most of my years making games solo, and it’s just a lot of work, and I think doing something like this when I’m working with other people, it kind of helps me exercise a muscle I haven’t exercised in a while,” said Song. “It’s just been good — learning to collaborate. When you trust other people, they provide an element that you don’t really expect, but it results in something really good.” 


Steven Hopper, part of the development team, said the game — which gained substantial attention at the event — was inspired by personal experiences.

“Rest” has an apocalyptic element: the character tries to rescue loved ones from an empty world filled with sword-wielding, fiery enemies.

“When everybody in our group was a younger child, we all felt like being with family was what reminded us the most of being home,” Hopper said. “And so the point of the game was [that] you’re a young teenager, and the rest of your family has already left, and you are going out to the world to try to bring them home.” 

As a result, the in-game character’s anxiety rises as they get further away from home. To emphasize this, the sky will turn from light blue to dark red.

“Snowed Alone”

Rebecca Drury, a fourth-year information technology student, helped work on this title.

“In the game, you play as a small child who, in the middle of the night, [decides] they want to go downstairs and watch TV,” she said. “Basically, your goal is to sneak downstairs from your bedroom to living room without making too much noise and being caught by your parents, and without getting too scared and heading back to your room yourself.”

Drury also believes this event is a great gateway for those interested in getting into game development. 

“I think a lot of people would be interested in trying to make a game, but they feel like it’s so much work,” she said. “But trying to do it in 48 hours is a good experience to learn … It’s not as daunting as it seems.” 

Other popular titles included:

“Breezy Blitz” — A multiplayer game where players race against each other to be the first one home while slipping on ice.

“Crab Jam” — A game where a crab tries to find its way home by navigating through different levels. 

“Stay Home” — In this title, the user’s goal is to stay home, but they must leave the house to collect points in order to do so. 

Although the 2019 Global Game Jam has ended, the Cincinnati chapter of the International Game Developers Association has other events coming up for anyone who wants to learn more about developing games. 

“We’ll be hosting a game jam sometime in spring to invite people to come make games for that system,” said Branden Middendorf, a co-organizer of the event. “We will have this, and one more jam this year before Global Game Jam 2020 happens.”

Next year’s Global Game Jam is scheduled from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2, 2020.

Photo Editor

Alex Martin has been with The News Record since October 2018 as staff reporter and chief photographer.