07 Feb Towards a ten year anniversary for Hamar’s gamedev community
This January, Hamar’s gamedev community set a new record. The Global Game Jam in the city gathered 217 jammers who produced 41 games during the 48 hours of the jam. But it’s much more than just a fun and creative weekend, says Hamar Game Collective’s Andreas Fuglesang.
Andreas, head of the game studio Moondrop, is both one of the founders behind Hamar Game Collective and the guy who leads several hundred jammers through the largest Global Game Jam in the Nordic every January – a task he has had since 2011.
The new record also shows how Hamar has become a national hub for game development, both because of the environment linked to Hamar Game Collective and the game design education at Innlandet University College Hamar. But Fuglesang actually wants to give the Global Game Jam event itself a lot of the credit.
– Hamar Game Collective was founded as late as in 2013, as a result of a community that had already grown during several years. In many ways, the whole thing started with the first Global Game Jam i 2009, hosted by the game studio Tumbleweed, Kunnskapsparken and International Games Developer Association Hamar. The event was then expanded in 2010, before we in Moondrop took over in 2011, says Fuglesang.
16 years since the beginning
The first initiatives to build a community for game development in Eastern Norway started in 2001, as companies like Norsk Tipping, Innlandet University College and Rotary started working to get a game related education to Hamar. In 2003, the course OPIM – Opplevelsesproduksjon og interaktive medier (Experience production and interactive media) was established, and after 2005 the first game studios appeared. The local innovation hub Kunnskapsparken started the Hamar Game Challenge – a competition that gave important incubator services to the winner.
Although all these elements have been important, Fuglesang still credits the game jam with a central role. It has for almost ten years been the social meeting place and creative hub where developers have met and started collaborations across companies. And this might also be one of the reasons why the small city of Hamar, with 30.000 inhabitants, has had the larges Nordic Global Game Jam location several years in a row – and this year ended up as the fourth largest in Europe.
– The Global Game Jam is very important to us. It not only strengthens the community we have, but also builds stronger relations to partners like Innlandet Community College, Hedmark Kunnskapspark and other important contributors. Each year, we also welcome top people from the international game development business, who become our new friends and give us important knowledge and a stronger network. All this helps position Hamar as a Norwegian hub for game development, says Fuglesang.
One example is the fact that many of the Norwegian game related colleges wish to send their students to the Hamar jam. This year, a whole class came from Sunnhordland Folk High School. But since the tickets were gone in less than 24 hours this year, several other colleges weren’t able to secure tickets for their students.
– We won’t stop
It takes a lot of unpaid working hours from the around 45 who are working at Hamar Game Collective to host a jam for several hundred jammers. But even so, Fuglesang can’t picture a situation where the collective would stop inviting jammers to Hamar.
– It gives us so much value – and is such an important part of what we do. Creative joy, transfer of knowledge, collaboration with new people across companies and fields of expertise, networking – these are all core values for us and makes us better game developers.
This also means that the tenth anniversary next year has to be special.
– We haven’t started planning yet – but for a tenth anniversary, I guess things should be ten times better? Don’t you agree?
Facts about Hamar Game Collective:
- Grown from three to nine game studios since 2013
- Grown from app. 20 to 45 people
- Hosts several local game events every year, for students, children and all with interest for game developemt
- Hosts Global Game Jam Hamar, Europe’s 4. largest and world’s 18th largest Global Game Jam location
- Co-hosted ”Splash – The Jam is the Ship” – Game jam on the cruise ship Hurtigruten above the polar circle, with 100 participants