game jams

My Oddball DreamHackathon

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Last weekend I took part in my first competitive game jam – the inaugural DreamHackathon, at Stockholm’s Ericsson Globe. This 24-hour game jam had a 100,000kr pize pool and counted eye gaze hardware manufacturer Tobii amongst its sponsors. It brought together some 90-odd jammers comprising 27 teams, and it sat right alongside one of Europe’s biggest esports tournaments. In the middle of all that, I teamed up with 4 other people to make a game in which you play as improbably fat cats, lusting after surströmming.

Team Oddballs, 5 hours into jamming

Team Oddballs, 5 hours into jamming

Given that I’ve attended game jams before at settings including a museum, the headquarters of Mind Candy and a boat moored in København, it didn’t feel quite so strange to bring my laptop and game controllers along to the world’s largest hemispherical structure; home to ice hockey matches, major concerts and of course, this major esports gathering. The venue was still impressive, though – replete with banners, posters and merchandise from the likes of World of Warcraft and Counter-strike: Global Offensive. I made my way past all of that, wearing a green “competitor” wrist-band, in order to reach the colourfully-lit bar which would be home for the next day.

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Lyst Summit Write-up (part 2)

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Part 1 of my recap-cum-travelogue was published a short while ago; you can read it here!

There’s an unwritten rule of almost every game jam I’ve taken part in, which states that the first 5 or so hours will be devoted to anything but the final project. I’m pleased to say that with practice, this period has shifted from becoming something terrifying, to actually rather productive for me. When the jam starts, we (as a group) will tend to fixate upon an idea which seems feasible, expressive and daring within the bounds of the jam. We’ll sketch it out, start prototyping.. and then realise the idea has no traction or depth.

I panicked, the first time this happened in a jam – thinking I was a lousy designer, unqualified to play my part in a game jam team. I’ve soon learned, however, that quite often sleep will bring with it an epiphany. This is precisely what happened at the Lyst Summit game jam.

As the conference deck filled up, our team retired below to set about paper prototyping.

As the conference deck filled up, our team retired below to set about paper prototyping.

Read More »Lyst Summit Write-up (part 2)

Lyst Summit Write-up (part 1)

I’m certainly embarrassed by how long it’s taken me to get around to my Lyst write-up – things have been very busy in recent weeks – but in some many ways, it’s taken until now for me to actually process the glorious things which happened there. What follows is more of a travelogue than a simple game jam recap, split into two parts for your convenience.

Lyst Summit is a unique gathering on the subject of love, sexuality and romance in games, and its first event was held in early June aboard the MF William Jørgenson – a boat moored in København (Copenhagen), Danmark. I was honoured to be able to attend, so taking part in a fascinating series of talks, followed by a 48-hour game jam unlike any other. It was my first time visiting the Danish capital since a very brief change of trains last year, and I’m pleased to say it was as rich in friendship as it was in inspiration and creative output.

The "Love Boat" at Holmen

The “Love Boat” at Holmen

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Genes in Space

Today, Cancer Research UK have launched the game which they and Guerilla Tea developed as a result of the #CRUKgame hackathon in March 2013.

Genes in Space

Play to Cure: Genes in Space (iStore & Google Play) is a shockingly addictive resource-gathering game, in which you play a pilot on the hunt for Element Alpha. This substance appears along a track in the form of clouds, which correspond with ticks on graphs of genetic data. It’s these graphs which Cancer Research UK need analysed, and so whenever a player plots a course across these graphs, or collects Element Alpha within the game, they are actively contributing to data analysis which furthers the fight against cancer.

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