Pocket Gamer Connects establishes supportive partnership with Global Game Jam

Interview: the 2024 Global Game Jam coincides with Pocket Gamer Connects London in January

Pocket Gamer Connects establishes supportive partnership with Global Game Jam

Pocket Gamer Connects is pleased to announce a partnership with Global Game Jam, which is now the conference series’ Official Indie Partner. This collaboration underscores a shared dedication to fostering innovation and connectivity within the global games development community.

Established in 2008, Global Game Jam is the world’s largest game-creation event, held both physically and virtually across the globe. And the very next one starts on 22nd January, coincidentally the same date as the next Pocket Gamer Connects conference.

Over one week (January 22 - 28, 2024), participants unite to develop games based on this year’s theme (disclosed at the outset). Global Game Jam, a non-profit organisation, operates year-round to emphasise innovation, experimentation, and inclusiveness, working through partnerships and community initiatives.

“Global Game Jam is a worldwide connecting point in the games industry that has been an essential starting point for countless professional game developers,” says Tim Cullings, Executive Director of Global Game Jam.

Tarja Porkka-Kontturi, Director of Community Engagement of Global Game Jam, adds: “GGJ serves as a great starting point for getting experience in teamwork and full game development cycle. It builds the courage to network and gives an opportunity to make life-long friends who can turn into colleagues! Many GGJ jammers have established their own indie studios or joined existing ones.”

Bridging worlds, creating careers

“Making a complete game, albeit a small-scope jam game, is a valuable addition to the portfolio and can help in getting a career in games!” continues Tarja Porkka-Kontturi. “Also, the GGJ community is full of very helpful, kind and supportive folks who are ready to help others. From all over the world! This kind of community really shows how united we can be.

“Recent layoffs cause anxiety and doubts, including within those who are just starting their game development journey. For indies, it can be tough to get funds to continue working on your game. We try to connect folks who have the resources (incubators, organisations, publishers) with our indie community and support them in creating meaningful connections.”

“The challenge for indie developers is always discoverability and marketing for their games,” adds Tim Cullings. “GGJ Doesn’t provide direct marketing assurance, but we do regularly keep up with and feature past GGJ participants and organisers on our blog, website, and social media channels to give them exposure to our global audience.”

Left to right: Tarja Porkka-Kontturi, Tim Cullings and Charly Harbord of the Global Game Jam.

Support like this can benefit the game development scene in parts of the world that get less publicity than some of the Western hubs.

“GGJ serves as a connecting point from anywhere in the world to the games industry at large,” explains Cullings. “We hear countless stories in our travels of people who tell us that there was no games industry to speak of in their part of the world, but they found out about and went to a GGJ event that someone held or organised one themselves and that got them connected to others in the industry who either helped them find their first job or they ended up starting an indie studio together.”

We’re jamming

As well as getting exposure to the industry, press and gamers worldwide, the other big challenge for developers is funding. Pocket Gamer Connects helps at that level with activities like the Investor Connector and Publisher SpeedMatch. And it’s something that the Global Game Jam organisers take seriously, too.

It can be tough to get funds to continue working on your game. We connect folks who have the resources with our indie community and support them in creating connections
Tarja Porkka-Kontturi, Global Game Jam

“Funding is hard to come by for indie developers, and we use our connections with publishers to help people in our community get in touch with the right people to pitch their ideas to,” says Tim Cullings. “We have also offered micro-grants for game development on educational games and awarded post-jam development grants to teams that won some of our more competitive jams (partner jams) that we run outside of the main event in January and are focused on a cause or technology that an organisation wants to promote to our community.”

One main area of focus for the Global Game Jam since last January's event has been increasing awareness about GGJ Next, a jam aimed at young creators aged 12-16. The team is also committed to being inclusive and diverse.

“We want to increase participation by women, femme-identifying, and non-binary identifying people in the main GGJ event in January,” says Tim Cullings. “Year over year, our demographic numbers haven’t changed much in terms of the gender split of our participants, which is somewhat indicative of the games industry as a whole but also a shortcoming in achieving our goals to make our events open and welcoming to all who wish to pursue game development as a hobby or profession.

“To that end, we have been contacting and partnering with the advocacy organisations that represent people in those communities, Women in Games International, LatinX In Games, Gay Gaming Professionals, IGDA Foundation, and many more. We already launched the WE Create Game Jam, and partnered with Google Play, IGDA and IGDA Foundation to empower women in Latin America and Asia to create Android games and potentially win prizes. And we have some very exciting partnerships and events planned for 2024 to build on this and welcome more people from diverse backgrounds into our community to participate in events and contribute to the future of GGJ as an event and organisation.”

A group of jammers from São Luís, Brazil, from the Global Game Jam site.

Like Pocket Gamer Connects, the GGJ has also focused on expanding into the MENA region and encouraging more participation from game developers there.

Join the community

The PGC conference series will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2024, starting with its flagship London conference on 22nd and 23rd January. The two-day event at The Brewery on Chiswell Street is a highlight of the annual calendar for networking and knowledge-sharing. The London event will welcome over 2,500 games industry professionals through its doors.

PGC is the leading international conference series for the global games industry. Starting with mobile, but increasingly including PC, console, XR, AI, blockchain and other games platforms, PG Connects has convened over 48,000 industry professionals since its inception in 2014. The events include a business matchmaking platform, pitching competition, Careers Zone, many hours of talks and panels, a showcase exhibition, Investor Connector activity, parties, and loads more. This global roadshow spans the UK, America, Canada, Finland, Dubai, Jordan, India, and Hong Kong, amassing a diverse international audience.

This strategic understanding between the two organisations will provide a platform for reciprocal promotion and support.

Our pal Danar Kayfi fronts a jam in Erbil, Iraq. Photo from the Global Game Jam site.

“PGC is a fun but professional event that’s beneficial to both those starting their career in games and those who’ve already been in the industry for a while,” says the Global Game Jam’s Tarja Porkka-Kontturi. “I’m sure our community members will have great time networking at the PGC events, and learning from the pros of the field!”

“PGC has been a great partner of GGJ, already featuring our staff and board members as speakers at many events,” adds Tim Cullings.

We have some exciting partnerships planned for 2024 to welcome more people from diverse backgrounds into our community
Tim Cullings, Global Game Jam

Indeed, Charly Harbord, Global Game Jam’s Director of Operations, will be on stage on Pocket Gamer Connects London 2024, talking about jamming as a pathway to a career. The full schedule will be revealed in early December, but currently, Harbord is due on stage during the Game Dev Stories track on Tuesday, 23rd January.

“With this new phase of our partnership, we’re excited to be able to offer that same spotlight to our community members who are looking to get experience speaking at conferences, submit their games to the Big Indie Pitch competition, connect with each other at PGC events, and bring their games to demo at PGC events,” continues Cullings. “The combined platforms of PGC and GGJ will really help elevate the developers in our community and give them a stage where they will shine and enhance their career and business opportunities.”

You can register for the Global Game Jam starting on 4th December. Tickets are still available for Pocket Gamer Connects, including a reduced ticket tier for indies. There is still time to sign up for London’s Very Big Indie Pitch, too, which takes place during Pocket Gamer Connects.

COO, Steel Media Ltd

Dave is a writer, editor and manager who today is Steel Media's Chief Operations Officer. He gets involved in all areas of the business, from front-page editorial to behind-the-scenes event strategy. He began his career in games and entertainment journalism back in the 1990s when Doom came on floppy disks. You can contact him with any general queries about Pocket Gamer, Beyond Games or Steel Media's other websites, conferences and initiatives.