Bringing Stockholm to Global Game Jam 2015

Last weekend I attended my ninth ever game jam – the first in which I didn’t actually jam. But that’s okay, because I spent the weekend wearing a Game Jam Stockholm staff t-shirt – one of a few neat flourishes as our recently-founded, non-profit organisation stepped up from the cosy SETI-Jam of last October to a full-on, public-facing event.

A public playtesting session on day two of the event.
A public playtesting session on day two of the event.

Global Game Jam Stockholm 2015 returned to Tekniska Museet this year, and was organised by the aforementioned non-profit as well as a team of enthusiastic volunteers. It was an event sponsored by all sorts of local companies: from a 3D printing supplier to a local tabletop club and a crowdfunding agency. We also had a program of talks, with practical guidance on matters such as version management and submission to pan-Swedish contests.

I also stepped into the programme as a representative of Diversi, to deliver a brief talk on the organisation and on the importance of inclusivity in games, along with a few tips on how to address the relevant topics in a game jam context. It formed a small part of the event’s overall focus on accessibility, welcoming as we did a group of early-teenage jammers, and members from TjejHack – another organisation I work with, in order to promote grass-roots game development amongst girls and women.

Jamming

Being a part of the organising team for an event of this size held its own revelations. Although SETI-Jam was our first hosted event, its pool of around a dozen participants presented considerably fewer demands than the 80-odd who came along to this, the largest Global Game Jam site in Sweden. Of course, none of this would have been possible without our t-shirt-adorned team of volunteers, nor the co-operation of the museum which hosted us. It was, however, rather satisfying to be able to simply provide a location and meet the basic needs of comfort, nutrition and occasional reassurance, and let the event’s own momentum take care of the rest.

In the end, Global Game Jam Stockholm yielded 14 projects, plus a game entitled CityPVP, from our youth jammers. All of these were of course inspired by the event’s world-wide theme, “What do we do now?” The responses were quite varied, from Princess Overdrive‘s story of a heroic rescue gone wrong to the experimental gameplay of RandomFighter and the co-operative, blind problem-solving of Say What? The idea-creation phase at the start of the jam was refined from that used in GGJ 2014 and SETI-Jam, in which participants wear their idea as a talking point.

The refined "ideation" process, led by Jon Back.
The refined “ideation” process, led by Jon Back.

Most excitingly, we not only kept the public-facing format of last year but managed to expand upon it. More museum attendees came by to test the jammers’ games from a very early build at the 18-hour mark, through refinements a few hours later and then towards the end of the jam. They were also invited in to see the jammers’ presentations, at a stage area overlooking the jam site itself. All of this serves as creative fuel – arguably as much for the visitors getting their first taste of game development, as it does the jammers who have to make that early push towards playability.

Global Game Jam Stockholm 2015 was, in my opinion, a successful expression of what Game Jam Stockholm takes to heart: making game jamming accessible. Not only did we attract a great deal of first-time jammers from many creative disciplines, but we set them loose in an environment where members of the public could also come by, to see what this particular strain of game development is really about. The jammers benefit from the public’s feedback throughout the development process, and they in turn inspire others to consider creating games. I, for one, am very proud to be a part of that.

Retired T-shirts

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