Pixel Jam 2023 Roundup

Early in 2023, GB Studio Central founder Emi Paternostro suggested I organize a pixel art jam with the site, which I was delighted to do. I enjoy exploring GB Studio as a tool for self-expression, so perhaps I was the person for the job.

I had considered making a pixel art jam to have a browsable gallery of images with GB Studio. However, we realized we could create a much more interesting Game Boy ROM with a relationship with the completed jam pages on itch.io. But how were we going to achieve this and include everyone?

We wanted as many pixel artists to participate as possible, but we also wanted a sense of craft in the submissions. The technical requirements included submitting a .png file at 160×144 pixels at or under the classic 192 unique tile limit. These simple restrictions allowed us to make the ROM and bypass any critical judgement about the content. With this, we set up a short 48-hour jam with a theme — An Awesome Discovery. 

Excitingly, 306 people joined the jam, and 142 entries were submitted. All who participated produced quality and interesting interpretations of the debut theme. Some participants even wrote accompanying notes on their itch.io pages, which I recommend reading.

The ROM we made is a bit of a technical marvel thanks to the knowledge of Emi and members of the GBSC staff. It uses GBVM, Python and an index to display the images in a slideshow as well as allow the user to find a specific submission they want to view. We created a time capsule of the pixel art community and formed a genuine innovation in the online game jam space.

Participants gave great feedback, saying that this jam was fun and accessible due to its short time frame and low barrier to entry. We are thankful that many have since expressed the desire to participate in a similar jam to come. In the meantime, check out the full gallery of incredible submissions here.

Liked it? Take a second to support GB Studio Central on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!