May 26, 2021

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 is running the Global Game Jam NEXT after the success of last year’s pilot. In 2020 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. This year we'll still be running the event remotely (we hope to welcome you to the Institute the next year though!).

The Game Jam will take place between 26 July – 6 August

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 the students making games had never made a game before and new to using their respective tools and we're very happy with what our jammers managed to achieve!

Francesco's platformer- World Runner:

Fortnite tribute - by Chris and Adam:

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.

Who will guide you through the Game Jam?

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 (names to be announced):

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.

Walid Sultan Midani - CEO YouRun:

A video game enthusiast and pioneer in Africa, Walid Sultan Midani is the founder and CEO of DigitalMania Studio, the first video game development studio in Tunisia that currently specializes in VR and AR games for team buildings. Walid is also the founder of YouRun, a video game studio and publisher based In Malta which focuses 100% on casual competitive games with the game: Warshmallows. Walid also mentors other entrepreneurs who are working to establish their startups and raise funds. Outside of business, Walid collaborates with NGOs advocating freedom of speech and minorities empowerment. Walid graduated in 2008 from ESPRIT-Tunisia with a degree in IT engineering.

Stephen Caruana - Director Pixie Software

Stephen Caruana is the founder and Managing Director of game development studio Pixie Software.

He was the president of the Malta Video Game Studio Association, sat on the board of the IGDA Malta chapter and runs the Malta Unity User Group. Having worked to establish the Maltese digital game industry in its beginnings, Stephen is now focused on helping it grow even further. He also organises various events and workshops and regularly speaks about the technical and business aspects of game development at local and international events.

Kevin Spiteri - Co-founder Level Academy Malta

Kevin is a co-founder of Level Academy, Malta’s first esports training academy specialising in education and training for video games and esports, from both a professional and an athletic perspective. He has a background in education and training having spent over 20 years in various roles such as that of a teacher, teacher trainer, academic director, materials developer and accreditation consultant. He is also the founder of TETRA an Educational Consultancy specialising in ELT and Further and Higher Education.

Elina Roinotti -

Local Mentors:

In addition to the Expert Panel we will have a number of global mentors (from game studios all over the world provided by the Global Game Jam themselves) who can answer questions and troubleshoot during the event. We will also have a pool of local experts composed of lecturers and students of the game design M.Sc. and PhD to assist the jammers if they encounter any game design problems.


Areas of Expertise

Times available


Ionnais Brellas - M.Sc Student Institute of Digital Games

Unity and Game Design

Monday 26 - 19:30 -21:30

Wed 28 - 19:30 -21:30

Thurs 29 - 19:30 -21:30

Friday 30 - 19:30 -21:30

Monday 2 to Thursday 4 - 19:30 -21:30


Aphrodite Andreou - M.Sc. Student at Insititute of Digital Games

Game Design and Art

Monday - Friday 17:30-19:30


Christian Paller - M.Sc. Student at Institute of Digital Games

Game Design

Mondays and Fridays - 10.30 - 12.30



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.

Schedule of the Jam

** participants are advised to keep an eye on the schedule as it is developing over the days in the run-up to the game jam **





Monday 26 July


Introduction to the Global Game Jam NEXT. On Zoom (link TBA)

Information about the event, introduction to the Discord server and the GGJNEXT website, scheduled events, presentation of the IDG people (organisers, mentors, presenters, experts)

Tuesday, 27th July 10-11:00 Game Design Workshop by Iro Voulgari Iro goes through the process of designing a game.

Wednesday 28 July


From Passion to Profession - Self-assessment in esports by Kevin Spiteri

What is that sets apart the players from the pros? What does it take to set off on the path of an esports athlete? The ability to accurately assess yourself is key to enabling the shift from good to great, from player to pro. In this session we take a look into the importance of self-assessment and how you can start identifying your own strengths and weaknesses, with the aim of following a more targeted, structured and effective development process and to take your gametime from play to practice.

Thursday 29 July 10-11:00 ArtBot: Developing a Game about Artificial Intelligence. by Marvin Zammit In ArtBot players of all ages learn the basics of Artificial Intelligence. Your quest is to find and retrieve stolen art objects. You train your AI helper to recognise and locate the objects hidden in a maze of dungeons, and see how supervised and reinforcement learning work.
Thursday 29 July 11-12:00 Game Narrative Workshop. By Elina Roinioti and Iro Voulgari How to make narrative and game mechanics align.

Friday 30 July


Playing with Dolphins - Aphrodite Andreou

Presentation of research on designing games for captive dolphins for entertainment, health, and diagnostics.

Monday 2 August


Initial Game Ideas / Brainstorm

Participants present their games (initial stages) or game ideas. Discussion with Experts. On Zoom (link TBA)

Tuesday 3rd August 10 - 11:000 GameMaker Workshop Iro will take the participants through the basics of GameMaker. (Zoom)
Wednesday 4 August 10-11:00 Progress Report Participants present their games (initial stages) or game ideas. Discussion with Experts. On Zoom (link TBA)
Friday 6 August 10:12:00 Arcade Mode We play the games the jammers have made!