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COME JANUARY 25, the fifth annual Global Game Jam hits the Art Institute of Portland. The 48-hour event tasks would-be game designers in locations around the world with creating a complete videogame based on a pre-selected theme. Instead of generating huge profits for some publisher, the goal is to educate people about everything that goes into creating a game—it's just bonus points if they end up developing something fun.

The best bit is that participating in the Jam is totally free. From 5 pm on Friday, January 25 to 7 pm on Sunday, January 27, the Art Institute of Portland will open its doors to Jam participants. Those of you who'd like to attend should register online, but the organizers won't pester you for an admission fee. 

But what if you're a lazy voyeur who just wants to watch? The Global Game Jam also offers a chance to witness other developers—some of whom are professionals—scramble to bring their ideas to life. The Portland Indie Game Squad—a group dedicated to fostering our budding game development scene—is once again hosting the Jam, and President Will Lewis suggests that observers not miss the first three hours of initial concept planning. More than any part of the Jam, this should be very educational for anyone with an interest in game creation. Oh, and be sure to try the games once they're done: According to Lewis, playable versions of the games the Jam generates will be available on Sunday for attendees to enjoy.

The best part of this whole thing? There's no profit motive to the event either—the Global Game Jam is a purely educational event. All games created at the Global Game Jam are the property of their creators under a Creative Commons license, and while this means that no one's going to get rich off of their Jam creation, it also makes the event even more valuable to those hoping to find a job in the games industry.

For more info and to register to participate, check out the Global Game Jam at globalgamejam.org and the Portland Indie Game Squad at pigsquad.com.

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