Greetings from GGJ Class of GDC 2023 Scholars: Kayla Lakey

This is an article series of stories about the GDC Scholar experiences in March 2023.

I wanted to be able to experience GDC, and then pay that experience forward by telling my students about it and showing them that "hey - I did this, so this is definitely something you can do to!" 

Kayla Lakey is a 25 years old university graduate with a degree in game design. Now she works as the Technology Coordinator for Powerhouse Animation Studios.

"I've been a STEAM instructor and Girls Make Games Fellow where I spent a huge amount of my time sharing the pipeline and excitement of game development & design to my students, giving them access to resources and a behind the scenes look on how some of their favorite games were made, and encouraging them to bring to life their own ideas and what tools they can use to do it. As a student and now alumni at university, I participated in the game jam for three years in a row, grinding with my own teams and encouraging others! Global Game Jam is one of my favorite events and I can't wait for the next one, every time."

Kayla and GMG at GDC

Kayla applied for the GDC scholarship because, for a long time, it was a HUGE bucket list item for her and something she wasn't sure to be able to do in the future.

"I've also never travelled that far before and mostly on my own, so it was a very scary idea, to be honest. I wanted to be able to experience GDC, and then pay that experience forward by telling my students about it and showing them that "hey - I did this, so this is definitely something you can do to!" Applying for the scholarship was kind of a way of telling myself that if it happens, it's worth it to do everything in my power to make the trip work - no matter how intimidating it might be.

Overall, GDC was an incredible experience! GDC was a celebration of the art, engineering, and development of game creation. I connected with people, got unique insight on how other developers approached and conquered challenges, and celebrated new and upcoming developments. It was a great place to soak up inspiration and knowledge.

Two of my favorite experiences were the Arcane Art Development and the DevOps Modernizing Multiplayer God of War Ascension talk. With the Arcane talk, they talked about how they took inspiration for their shape language through looking at the inner mechanics of old clocks. That's so detail oriented and a unique way of finding inspiration - it showed me that I need to think more creatively about finding references and digging in deep to reference material.

The DevOps talk shared their experience about migrating an older server instance that was getting discontinued to a newer, future-proof version. Instead of just pulling the plug on a service from 2013, the speaker shared how they really put their heads together and not only made it work, but made it better than ever! I really love problem solving and trying new things, so that talk really spoke to me as well."

Kayla and friend

Meeting other community members was extremely inspiring for Kayla. Specifically, getting to participate in the Global Game Jam Roundtable at GDC.

"Hearing other people share their experiences with game jam was inspiring, especially from the member who was from Ukraine. He shared their experience participating in the GGJ from bomb shelters. Hearing these different perspectives was humbling. Global Game Jam really lets me connect with others because we all get to share these experiences we have together. All the Game Jammers I met are so passionate it's contagious.

Global Game Jam is truly a unifying experience, people from all over the world contribute and it's really amazing to get to connect and hear stories from other jammers, despite the lengths that separate everyone."

Kayla's special greetings to all Global Game Jam community members: 

"Hey GGJ Community! I could not be more grateful for you. Global Game Jam is the reason I remembered why I love game development and why I'm so passionate about it, even during times of feeling exhausted or burnt out. I'm beyond happy to be a part of this community. Thank you, a million times thank you!"

Find Kayla online:



GGJ user page for her last jam projects: