Every year towards the end of January, game developers, game studios, gaming enthusiasts, writers, programmers, designers, illustrators and other creatives from around the world gather for a full weekend to create a new game from scratch, in 48 hours. 

Africa is no exception and has seen an increase in jam sites over the years. This includes Ghana which hosted 4 jam sites from Tema to Berekuso. The jam sites in Ghana were Leti Legends Jam, Global Game Jam Accra, Global Game Jam Tema and GGJ Ashesi.

We reached out to the organizers of these jam sites with 5 questions to get a general sense of their reactions and key takeaways from this year’s jam with the theme of Repair. What follows are the responses of Eyram Tawiah (Leti Arts), Emmanuel “Nomak” Gasonoo (Gasbros Gaming Network) and Kevin de Youngster (Ashesi University).

What was your initial reaction to this year’s theme? 

Kevin

My first thought was…fascinating. “Repair,” this year’s theme, was beautifully minimalist and vague enough to get everyone’s minds whirring. The ideation phase was beautiful, people had so many ideas (and so little time! hehe).

Nomak

This years theme was straight forward unlike last year’s. It was a pain to build a game centred on that.

Eyram

I was excited. The theme gave room for a wide spectrum of ideas.

What are your key takeaways from the Global Game Jam this year? 

Kevin

My key takeaway is that there is so much talent here, mostly hidden. People out here doing amazingly creative things and are capable of doing even greater! The game development space here in GH is definitely not one to overlook. I sense a revolution coming!

Oh, one more takeaway, arguably most important of all: there will never be enough pizza. Let those who have ears listen.

Nomak

People in the gaming community love these types of events and have wacky and genuine ideas that can push gaming development.

Eyram

Never lose the passion for getting together to do great stuff. It was fun getting together with like, passionate minds to hack creativity and code 😀:).

What did you enjoy the most about this year’s jam?

Kevin

Hard question. There were so many enjoyable things in this year’s jam at Ashesi. From the weird YouTube videos jammers played when we passed the HDMI around, to meeting and having fun with many people (highest number of people since we started).

What I enjoyed the most was seeing people, who had never met each other, bond and build exciting games together. That left with me a sure hope in humanity I had long lost *wipes tear. 

Nomak

The people and the fact that more people are interested in the event and promise to come again.

Eyram

The unity and stream of diverse ideas that narrowed down to one great one we built together.

Based on your experience at this year’s jam, what does the future hold for game development in Ghana?

Kevin

Ooooh, I’m so excited! I think more and more people realize how powerful games, as a medium, are in bringing people together, sharing essential stories, and making everyone happy. I’ve seen many continually interested in taking game development seriously, and that puts a massive smile on my face. There are so many exciting things coming up!

Nomak

Gaming will grow. We foresee more media giving game devs a chance and pushing our local content. I appreciate the love (and support) from all the sponsors and hope they help again.

Eyram

I see a huge future. The turnout was quite surprising and the improvement in skillset has improved drastically and shows more guys diving into the space. The future is very bright and should we keep working together like this, we would go a long way.

What are some of the challenges, if any, you encountered pre, during and post-game jam? 

Kevin

Pre-Jam

The main problem pre-jam is finding a venue and sponsorship. Since my jam site is in a university, the former is not much of a problem, but the latter still is. Fortunately, my man, Paul Ziem, organizer of the Accra jam site, got us a lead this time.  

Getting people to come. Like any cool event, a massive number of people are interested in coming, but having them attend the game jam itself is a hustle. 

During Jam

Most jammers have other responsibilities. My jam site is 100% student attendees, and they sometimes get distracted by that big deadline around the corner, group meetings, etc. As they have fun ‘and all, the deadlines hit them hard, myself included. 

Post-Jam

Post-jam workflow is just fine, really. 

Eyram

There were minimal challenges as the passion was high. The only challenge was having a broader skillset spectrum. Nonetheless, it all worked out very well as you can see from our video recap.

A full recap of the Leti Legends Jam is available to read here.

Nomak

Our first challenge was securing a venue. Our second challenge was publicity. Even though we hosted a jam last year, we had people who were genuinely shocked that a game jam was happening around them.

What next after Global Game Jam 2020?

As is the tradition, all the games made during the 48-hour sprint are published online and available for everyone to try out. As for the future of game jams in Accra, Paul Ziem has hinted at organizing two more so that the rest of the year isn’t devoid of communal activities that push local game development forward.

In another vein, Eyram Tawiah says that the Leti Legends Jam team is together on WhatsApp, continuing development on their game. Their game, Krohikro would be made into an opensource project that will also be available on Github.

GGJ2020 Games from Ghana

A total of seven (7) games were submitted from Ghana’s 4 jam sites. With the exception of two games – Krohikro from Leti Legends Jam and Chaos: Tricksters Yawa from the Tema jam site – all the games were built for the Microsoft Windows platform. Krohikro was built for Android and Chaos: Tricksters Yawa for Web.

Ashesi Games

Descent

Observing the subconscious of someone suffering from social anxiety, as a doctor, and attempting to repair it.

More info including download links on Descent here.

Digestive

The main idea of the game is to collect different parts of a space ship in order to fix it for a voyage. He needs to keep doing this until the spaceship is completed and ready to take off to the next planet. There are three identical parts, but their colors, that are displayed on the screen and the player is expected to select the correct part out of the three. When the player gets the correct part he gets one part fixed. However, when he selects the wrong part the existing parts of the shuttle is reduced.

More info including download links on Digestive here.

Is you or is you ain’t my ROBOT?

An engineer searches to progress in a maze while repairing robots along the way hoping to find a companion…If he’s lucky.

More info including download links on Is you or is you ain’t my ROBOT? here.

Global Game Jam Tema

Chaos: Tricksters Yawa

Having a bad day? Well, Ananse is having it worse. Lazy Ananse was relaxing and sleeping till he was tricked into destroying the shards of harmony in his kingdom. Now help poor Ananse find the missing pieces to restore and repair what he destroyed…… and more!

More info including download links on Chaos: Tricksters Yawa here.

Leti Legends Jam

Krohikro

Krohinkro game by Leti Arts

KROHIKRO is basically about the loom of a kente weaving machine. Without the loom, you won’t be able to weave your kente. And so before you actually start to play the game, you break the loom. You are then told that the loom that has been broken was made by all the various kings in the various Kente towns in Ghana. So what you need to do is to go through all the chiefs to get the various parts of the loom that could help you fix it. Meaning, we would have to actually sit under their feet and learn from them how to make these several patterns. Will you pay the price to be humble enough to learn from all these chiefs?

More info including download links on Krohinkro here. In an effort to continue developing the game, Leti Arts has built a webpage for the game accessible at http://letigames.com/krohikro/

Global Game Jam Accra

Mending Run

A simple FPS platformer where the player uses his repair abilities to fix up the environment as he progresses through it.

More info including download links on Meding Run here.

RepDem Full

Life is short, but there is always joy in giving. Rather than your usual approach to repairing objects, we decided to try repairs but on the lives of individuals. what better way to solve problems than with MONEY!

More info including download links on RepDem Full here.

Ghana Game Jam 2020 Sponsors (& Supporters)

On behalf of all the jam sites in Accra, we say a big thank you to all the sponsors that helped in one way or another, make Global Game Jam 2020 a success in Ghana this year. Of particular note is NubianVR, the virtual reality startup in Accra which was present at all the jam sites.

In a letter to jam sites explaining its keen interest in this year’s jams, NubianVR writes, “we believe we should all be lifelong learners, and VR is one medium to foster that. As we work to try to meet our goals, we have taken a keen interest in the game development community in Ghana, as our goals cannot be met in isolation of you.”

NubianVR is a virtual reality startup designing solutions that can significantly contribute to the realization of Sustainable Development Goal 4 for education. Learn more about NubianVR here.

This gratitude also goes out to other creative collectives and individuals who contributed such as Parables Animation, Mills Media (Asantewaa), Farida Bedwei and Rexford Nkansah for free coverage.

  • NubianVR (Tema, Ashesi, Leti & Accra)
  • Dumsor Games (Tema)
  • Double Edit Studios (Tema)
  • E.N.T Technologies (Tema)
  • Gamers Lounge (Tema)
  • Koyocco Media (Tema)
  • Genius Codes (Tema)
  • Rikkie’s Place (Tema)
  • Giiks Gaming City (Tema)

Conclusion

The key takeaway from the answers provided by these jam organizers is that there’s hope for game development in Ghana and by extension, Africa. The major bottlenecks from their responses are securing venues and funding. More importantly, however, is attracting more people with the necessary skillsets to make world-class games in order to scale this up.