June 18, 2020

Global Game Jam NEXT - Games Education for the NEXT Generation

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Similar to our GGJ® event for adults in January every year, GGJ NEXT is a game jam for students aged 11 to 17 and is designed to stimulate collaboration and teamwork; it is not a competition.

It is a time to explore, learn, and experiment. Honestly, there are and there will be plenty of competitions related to videogames, we don’t need another one. What we do need as a place to meet people who want to work on projects together, a place where you can go to ask questions, and a place where you can see first hand all the awesomeness (and the hard work) that goes into making a game.

What is GGJ NEXT®? Games for the next generation

This year the Institute of Digital Games and the Directorate for Digital Literacy & Transversal Skills (Ministry for Education and Employment) are running the Global Game Jam NEXT after the success of last year’s pilot. This year the event took place remotely in a combination of Discord Server and Zoom calls where we guided the participants through a number of tutorials and were at hand to address any difficulties they may come across in the process. In one week three teams managed to finish their games.

We encourage you to try them out for yourselves, but here is a short run through of the brainstorming sessions and the game playing afterwards. Most of them were new to making games and new to using their respective tools and we're very happy with what our jammers managed to achieve!

Francesco's platformer- World Runner: https://fstargames.itch.io/world-runner

Fortnite tribute - by Chris and Adam: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/411809858/

No link for Harris, Manos, and Manos.

Last year the jammers only had 4 hours at the workshop, so it was difficult to complete anything at all, but plenty of time to learn. Ian Caruana went home and finished his nice little Cheese Platformer.

(Apologies for audio quality it was a noisy, echo-filled room).

What is a Game Jam? Make games like a real game designer

The goal of a game jam is to come together and make a game (be it a videogame, board game, card game…) Jammers quickly come up with new ideas, and make quick sketches of how they might work to prototype and playtest. Often jammers have a theme or central idea to work with. The brief time span will encourage creative thinking and hopefully innovative experimental games.

The GGJ NEXT jam happens all over the globe based around a central theme.

Expert Guidance for Jammers was provided by:

Dr Iro Voulgari - Institute of Digital Games

She is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Digital Games and teaching staff at the Department of Early Childhood Education, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. She has studied Educational Sciences at the Department of Education Sciences in Pre-School Age, Democritus University of Thrace in Greece, holds an M.Ed. on Information Technology, Multimedia and Education from the University of Leeds, UK, and a PhD on Massively Multiplayer Online Games & Learning from the Department of Educational Sciences & Early Childhood Education, University of Patras, in Greece. Her research focuses on game based learning, game studies, and digital literacy. She is teaching undergraduate and postgraduate courses on digital games, virtual worlds, and learning technologies. She has organised several workshops and events relevant to game based learning, Information and Communication Technologies in Education, and Digital Storytelling in local and international venues. She has worked on several Nationally and EU funded research projects on the design, implementation, and assessment of learning technologies and digital games in teaching and learning.

Jasper Schellekens - Institute of Digital Games

Jasper is one of the organisers of the Malta Global Game Jam. He has been part of the organising committee since 2016 and is a veteran jammer having completed a number of Game Jam Games including a couple of digital games like How was you day? and a few board games like Babelship. He has been supporting the research and communications of the Institute representing them at international trade events and festivals such as Science in the City. He was involved with the design of Xtreme Yoga a small game for eye-tracking research and Construction BOOM!

Expert Panel:

The participants will receive feedback on their games from an expert panel. Once at mid-way point to provide some guidance and once at the end of the jam in order to give them a good idea what they did well and hear some suggestions on what they could improve. In addition to the organisers, the Expert Panel is composed of people working in the industry and in games education.

Dr. Vanessa Camilleri - University of Malta

Dr. Camilleri's lectures at the Faculty of ICT. Her work is in the area of human-computer interaction, virtual reality applications, and serious games. Before she joined the Faculty of ICT she lectured at the Faculty of Education, where she was teaching Computing in Education, as well as Educational Technologies (including open education, and eLearning) for a number of years.

These experiences have contributed to Dr Camilleri's strong beliefs in inter-Faculty collaboration. She is also a great believer in quality Education that is a key factor for success in today's world, and that is further enhanced by the digital possibilities and technology applications that are driving much of what makes up our society.

Her publications are mostly in the areas of autonomous learning projects and possibilities and her current research interests are in the field of Virtual Worlds for Education and Serious Applications. She is also involved in 2 funded projects that deal with the the use of games for learning.

Sara Abdilla - Dorado Games

Sara is a graduate of the Institute of Digital Games and is now working in the videogame industry as Software Developer for Dorado Games, primarily on their Conflict of Nations game. Dorado Games is focusing on designing, developing and marketing digital online games with a focus on mid core players from all over the world and the team draws on knowledge from more than 60 published titles across many platforms. She has also worked with small Maltese startup studio Mighty Box developing, documenting, testing and debugging their digital games projects. Her research at the institute explored a game designed for cats specifically, after all humans aren't the only animals that like playing games. Sara is also a veteran of the game jam where last year she made Shattered with her team, a game about exploring different fragments of yourself.

Christos Sintoris - University of Patras

Christos has a decade of experience in designing and developing location-based multiplayer mobile games. These are games that are played on location and which usually require that the players think about their surroundings. Most recent is the game Taggling, from last year. He works as a Teaching & Research Associate at the University of Patras in Greece, where, among other things, he guides students in the development of their own location-based games.

Nikoleta Yiannoutsou – Joint Research Centre, European Commission

Nikoleta has almost 10 years of experience in designing games. Her work involves design of location based games though her collaboration with the University of Patras, but also the design of half-baked games which are provocative games designed so as to be changed and modified. She has worked also with multisensory technologies (Virtual reality and haptics) exploring the involvement of the senses in the learning and gaming experience. She has worked with SMEs, Academic and Research institutions across Europe. She is currently a scientific officer at the Joint Research Centre in Seville Spain working on collective reflection tools, which are designed to support the development of the digital capacity of schools.

George E. Raptis - University of Patras

George E. Raptis (MSc, PhD) is a User Researcher in Human Opsis and HCI Group, University of Patras, Greece. His current research interests focus on human-computer interaction and game playing. He has published research works and has taken part in EU-funded projects that focus on the use and implementation of novel game design and development tools and techniques.

Local Mentors:


Areas of Expertise

Times available


Owen Sacco – MCAST and Institute of Digital Games

Unity and GameMaker

Mostly available 20-24th July

Preferred times –

14:30 - 18:30


Iro Voulgari – Institute of Digital Games

GameMaker and Game Design

Mostly available 20-24th July


Stanislas Mihaljcuk – Institute of Digital Games (M.Sc. Student)

Game Design

Mostly available 20-24th July


Emannouela Marla

Unity and Game Design

Available 12pm-6pm on 20-24th July



Global Game Jam NEXT has a resource library including tutorials on how to use the user-friendly GameMaker software as well as using Scripting and Coding or using Analogue games.