The theme for Global Game Jam 2017 is…

With Hawaii’s jam safely underway, we are now free to reveal to the world the theme for Global Game Jam ® 2017.

The theme is deceptively simple, just a single word: “waves”.

However, the theme’s reveal at the tail end of the GGJ17 keynote video suggested the great depth and complexity that underlie those five small letters. The reveal presented a visual montage including ocean waves breaking on a beach, wind making grass dance on a hillside, a Mexican wave sweeping around a crowded sports stadium, sound waves vibrating along a guitar string, and even animals seeming to wave hello.

Annakaisa Kultima, a GGJ regional organiser from Finland and a member of the committee that considered dozens of candidates before deciding on this year’s theme, spoke about its diverse possibilities for game creators.

“We were trying to find a theme that would be inspiring on many levels of game creation,” Kultima said. “This theme can be used on all levels of game development: code, audio, graphics, gameplay as well as a thematic aspect of a game.”

“I love this years theme,” she added. “It can bring about memories of relaxation or action, joy and sorrow. It is very versatile."

Alex Camilleri, a Danish member of the theme selection panel, felt that the universality of waves was an important factor.

“Our intention was to find a theme that could be universally understood and interpreted in very different ways,” Camilleri explained. “We wanted newcomers to be able to look at the theme from a gameplay or narrative perspective, as well as allowing experienced jammers to dive deeper into the theme and explore it from more personal, political or experimental way.”

“Personally, I love the theme because it reminds me of my childhood,” Camilleri confessed.

Kultima also agreed that the theme is perfect for such a genuinely global event due to the many forms of waves that surround all of us every day, regardless of who we are or where we live.

“It is a very basic concept that is universally shared and ubiquitous to everyday life,” Kultima said. “We hope to see diverse games overcoming the literal interpretations; however, even as a literal theme it could inspire interesting creations!"

What kinds of games will the thousands of teams of jammers spread across six continents make using this theme as their creative launching point? How will GGJ17’s many challenging diversifiers shape the initial theme into new and interesting shapes?

You can find out very soon! Completed games from jamming sites in New Zealand will start to appear on the GGJ website in a little over 24 hours, and the rest of the world will follow.

All of us here at Global Game Jam wish our jammers an enjoyable and productive weekend. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!