Innovate Pasadena is excited to support Electronic Arts with their first ever Rose Valley Jam happening on April 12 to April 14, 2019 at Caltech. This game jam is an opportunity for Pasadena high school students to try their hands at building a game. On April 14, the public can visit the game showcase and play the games built by these students. We asked some of the mentors and participants to share their thoughts on the game industry and the Rose Valley Jam.
Josh Delson, Operations Specialist for Electronic Arts (EA)
Christophe Gomez, Director of Game Design Track at ArtCenter College of Design
Tim Handley, Instructor at ArtCenter College of Design
Doug Zartman, Community Outreach Specialist for Industrial Toys
What are the most memorable moments during your career in gaming industry?
Christophe: My first game; it was amazing to realize that I was able to create a fun experience that other people enjoyed. I got hooked and never looked back.
Doug: One moment that stands out was when I first learned how to make levels for the game “Marathon”, and found out that making games can be as much fun as playing them — I was staying up late every night making levels and having a blast. The worst times are when you’ve poured your heart and soul, and years of work into a game, and for whatever reason it doesn’t catch fire, doesn’t sell. There are a lot of factors that make up a successful game, and you can’t control all of them.
What is one misconception people assume about your role in gaming industry?
Christophe: Besides my role at ArtCenter, I am a game producer. There are many misconceptions about the role, often that a producer “just” tell people what they need to do and provide feedback from his “ivory tower”. A good producer knows the craft inside out and works closely with all the team members. He is the voice of the team but also the first voice of the players.
Tim: Many people think that making games is all play. Like all arts, game design requires blood, sweat, and tears. Sometimes it’s play, but sometimes it is work; sometimes it is success, but often it is failure; and the work and the failure are necessary ingredients for the soup of success.
What do you look forward to Rose Valley Jam?
Josh: I have organized/participated in over 25 game jams and the Rose Valley Jam is by far one of my most exciting jams yet. Never have I heard about students already making games in their curriculum teaming up with industry developers for a weekend. Seriously, wish I did this as a high school student.
Tim: Every game designer brings their own self to the job, with their own perspective on life and play and fun. At the Rose Valley Jam, I look forward to meeting people with ideas I never would have thought of, and helping them make games that never otherwise could have been made. I’m certain that, at least once, someone will blow my mind in the best possible way. It just couldn’t be otherwise. It’s human nature to be original.
What can students benefit from this game jam? Have you participated in a game jam before?
Josh: A lot! Game jams always challenges people to create something awesome within limitations. This game jam is unique because there are industry developers with tons of wisdom to share to the students. Imagine literally a high school student passionate about making games being mentored by a level designer of Apex Legends. It’s amazing.
I love game jams and advocate for them. I have done half hours Flash Jams at IndieCade, online slow jams with Extra Credits (YouTube Channel), and even a Train Jam on an Amtrak train from Chicago to San Francisco. There are so many amazing game jams in this world and I would say a ton of games in the market started from a simple jam.
Christophe: This will be my first game jam. But I assume that the mentorship of seasoned professionals will inspire them.
Doug: I’ve mentored a few jams before, but only for a few hours at a time, so this will be a new experience.
What is your advice to someone who is considering gaming industry?
Christophe: Try! Go to a game jam and experiment the process of making a game. Then study; whether it is programming, art, design. The skill level required is high and you need strong foundations to succeed.
Doug: You don’t need a computer to make games — paper, pencils, dice, a deck of cards, a pile of chips — if you think you might want to make games for a living, start making them now. And it is easier than ever to make video games, there are free tools everywhere — just start doing it.
On April 14, there is a private game showcase. Why should we come by?
Josh: There will be a dozen of games made at the Rose Valley Jam. That’s literally enough for hosting an actual game festival. I am so excited to see the students and industry developers create projects beyond my imagination. You can see the hard work put into the games just attending.
Tim: For the same reason that you should support local businesses and tip street musicians. If you want to see a world with variety and joy and beauty, you have to take everyday action to support variety and joy and beauty. And the first and most important type of support is the gift of your presence — the sharing of your time with those who are taking risks, who are striving to build things that are new and different, and who are willing to share the fruits of their labor with the world.