Aspiring game designers are being invited to attend a host of free workshops which are being staged during this year’s Moray Game Jam in Elgin.

The annual digital and analogue game design competition, which will takes place over 48 hours next weekend (from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 March), is now in its fifth year (the deadline for teams to enter is this Monday, 12 March). The talks and workshops have become an integral part of the programme of the Game Jam, which is held at Moray College UHI in Elgin.

The free Moray Game Jam (MGJ) sessions will take place on Saturday and topics covered include; writing and programming your own adventure, working out what players want in the realm of online gaming and ‘a guide to being awesome in game development’.

Moray has a thriving game development scene and several speakers live and work in the region.

Gary Groves, who runs computer game development company, Strange High House, also lectures part time in Interactive Media at Moray College UHI. As well as being a judge in MGJ, Gary will deliver a hands-on lecture on writing and programming a game from start to finish using open source Ink scripting language; a tool used for the creation of branching stories for games such as 80 Days and Sorcery.

Another highlight of the day will be co-judge Louisa Gallie, chief creative officer of Elgin-based Hunted Cow Studios, describing how she broke into the games industry.

Louisa explains: “A lot of people want to know how to break into the games industry, but it’s just as important to know what to do when you get here. How to work within a team, moving forward in your career, and how to tackle tough situations.

“I’ll also be talking about the lessons I have learned along the way from being a wide-eyed graduate to leading a team. This will also include a rapidfire round on how NOT to mess up your application, because this whole talk is redundant if you’re still trying to get over this first hurdle!”

With this in mind, Karolina Jacobsson, Junior 2D Artist with Hunted Cow Studios, will start the day with a presentation about how we learn through failure, how to expand beyond a comfort zone, and offer tips to help would-be game designers along the way.

Members of the public are invited to sign up for the free sessions.

Amanda Millen, director of co-organisers, ScreenHI, said: “There’s a really vibrant game development scene in Moray thanks to the ongoing work being done by the likes of Hunted Cow Studios and Moray College UHI.

“The workshops and sessions which we have held in previous years have been oversubscribed so I’d urge anyone with a genuine interest in making a career in game development to sign up. The hands-on expert advice on offer is invaluable.”

Jacqui Taylor, head of marketing and external relations with Moray College UHI, said: “Moray College UHI has hosted Moray Game Jam since 2013 as we wanted to develop an opportunity to introduce the game jam phenomenon to the north of Scotland.

“We have seen the event grow and strengthen over the years and the Moray Game Jam is now a regular item in the Moray calendar. We want to thank all our sponsors and supporters who have helped to make this event such as success.”

Andrew Mulholland, director of Hunted Cow Studios, added: “The Moray Game Jam has been a great success since its inception and has really helped to highlight the creative talent in the north east. Although it’s competitive, the teams in the Game Jam all collaborate and share their learning which makes it a very rewarding experience for all involved. As well as many new faces, we see many of the same teams enter each year, which I’d say means we’re doing something right!”

Once the teams of ‘game jammers‘ finish their 48-hour-long game design marathon at midday on Sunday, a pop-up a gaming playground will open to the public. It will be open to anyone who is interested in testing the prototype games before the announcement of the winning teams is made.

Moray Game Jam is organised by a partnership comprising ScreenHI, Moray College UHI and Elgin-based games studio, Hunted Cow Studios, with funding support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

New for 2018, in recognition of the now infamous MGJ Saturday night pizza-run for hungry game developers, is a generous offer from Domino’s Pizza to supply pizzas to competing teams.

Last year, just under 100 budding game developers applied to be part of the game jam which sees teams devising a game which could potentially reach millions.

For updates follow Moray Game Jam on Facebook and Twitter.