Casual Dragon hosting local leg of 2024 Global Game Jam

Jan. 25—LOCKPORT — Casual Dragon Games is hosting the 2024 Global Game Jam this weekend, and owner-operator Jason Gough says it's the experience, not the competitive aspect, that makes his game jams memorable.

The game jam at 136 Walnut St. will feature the creation of new board games, new card games and new video games, with free admission for designers as well as spectators. People of all ages and skill levels are invited to "dip their toe" into game design.

"I want to stress that this is newbie-friendly," Gough said. "A lot of people say, 'I was interested but I didn't go because I don't know anything about it.' This is where you go when you don't know anything about game building. It's fun and it's free."

Gough compared the game jam to running uphill as challenges are overcome and ideas flow, then there's a plateau — maybe you take a break, eat a Pop Tart and brainstorm some more — then another hill of work, until finally it's finished, about 48 hours later, and then, "there's a feeling of accomplishment."

According to Gough, teams of people work on a game, but there are other ways of participating that might appeal to, for example, an artist.

"Artists, many times, tend to bounce between many different projects, helping everybody," he said. "Just because you're focusing on a board game doesn't mean you're not bouncing around. A video gamer might say, 'This is an idea that I have, but I can't program it, and maybe you can?' "

At Casual Dragon, the game begins with set-up at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Participants bring in laptops, drawing supplies, headphones and anything else that may help them create. The kickoff is at 7 p.m. when the game jam begins simultaneously around the world and the theme is announced. There is no pre-planning, Gough said, and the theme is kept under wraps until that moment.

"One year it was one word, 'waves'," he said. "So there were radio waves, ocean waves, sound waves."

Snacks, drinks and Papa Leo's pizza are available on-site. Sponsors include Ichiban Games, Papa Leo's, Dare to Dream Graphics and Stickboy Productionz Concerts and Events.

While the Global Game Jam has some competition, that's not the case at Casual Dragon.

"I want everyone to work together. I want everyone to have fun. I want everyone to have a positive, memorable experience," Gough said.