[Editor's Note: For GGJ 2015, GameIS helps manage 5 of the 7 Israeli jam sites]
GameIS community was established during 2008, a re-birth of IGDA Israel in order to coordinate the national activities in video game development. Over the years, our community (as represented by our tiny mailing list of dozens, which evolved into a 3000+ member Facebook group), grew as a home for local game developers, and maintains around 30 different events and activities throughout the year.
One of our favorite events was always the Global Game Jam, since the “Garage Geeks” site back from 2009 (Thanks goes to Yuval Sapir, the first Israeli GGJ admin) and up to the biggest site in the world that took place at Google HQ in Tel-Aviv 2014.
GameIS as a community, and later as an established NPO (late 2011), has produced GGJ events every year and made this amazing idea into one of the biggest industry holidays in Israel.
An interesting aspect of our participation is that due to Israel’s “early” time zone, and Sunday being a working day, many of our submissions are usually done by Saturday night. We enjoy this special exposure as our games are usually noticed and reviewed early, and so some of them enjoy high ranks and were selected to be featured in GGj website.
We’ve asked one of our veterans members, Yotam Noy, to tell you a little bit about his experience as a participate in the Israeli GGJ along the years.
In 2009 a few friends asked me why I wasn't there for the Global Game Jam. "The what now?" was my response. I was a game designer for 2 years by then, but GameIS (Game Israel) was at its infancy, so no wonder I didn't know about the event, located in a tiny and freezing maker’s garage, with less than 30 participants.
In 2010 I really REALLY wanted to go. The only thing strong enough to stop me was the splitting headaches and general miserable state of having sinusitis. My wife went without me, and made a game with strawberries and eggplants fighting to annihilate each other. The Herzliya site was the first year to offer a sponsored coffee machine, and already attracted over 100 developers. Since then, we’ve never missed a Global Game Jam.
In 2014, the dedicated GameIS volunteers managed to pull off the biggest GGJ site in the world, with more then 450 participants in the Tel-Aviv site alone, and over 120 in the other 3 sites in Jerusalem, Haifa and Hasifa College, where a Kosher Game Jam was held, starting earlier and ending before the Sabbath.
The Tel-Aviv site was incredible. And crowded. And amazingly enough, there was enough Pizza for everyone And we never ran out of caffeineoffee!
The scale of the 2014 GGJ set the tone for a very eventful year, with almost 30 events participated or self-produced by GameIS. The year ended with the Annual GameIS Conference, the biggest one we've had yet, with over 8050 attendees, 40 talks in , 3 tracks and 10 oversees guest speakers sfrom the international industry.
This year, the GGJ will be held in no less than FIVE sites, all organized and operated by GameIS’ volunteers. Now again, I find myself facing the problem of deciding which site I want to go to.
This year, we will once again have the opportunity to develop back to back with professionals from local hardware or software companies (Primesense, Plarium, Playtika, Tabtale & IBM), which enables early access to resources way ahead of the curve.
So “Jam ON” from GameIS!