Games, 150 participants
Without taking too many chances, I think it is now safe to assume that
we are the biggest game jam in the world.
This number is nearly twice as many as last years, which again had
twice as many participants as the year before.
Last year we had a very mechanical theme, with five constraints. This
year we tried something else, which was a combination of abstract theme
and some mechanical constraints.e
The main theme was based the concept of Taboo. Whatever the
participants took from that was up to themselves. However the event was
launched with the following words from Miguel Sicart:
"The NGJ is not looking for the
most provocative game, but for the most
interesting game that tackles the topic of taboo. We are appealing here
to creativity, not to cheap provocation. As it has already been pointed
out, think satire, but not insults. Taboo
interesting topic because taboos are what we cannot see,
what we cannot say, what we cannot do, and games are everything about
what we can see, say, and do. Exploring that tension with computer
games is the creative goal of the NGJ. Again,
are not looking for cheap provocation, but for thoughtful,
entertaining games that explore taboos in a mature, creative way."
Constraints besides the topic of taboo, their was
mechanical constraints that the games had to adhere to. The game had to:
Have a game loop (winnable, with a high
Be playable with a controller
Be multiplayer - either with NPCs or
Just like last year, the game jam had 2 prize categorizes.
This year we had a panel consisting of 4 persons:
Stephaníe Munck, Programmer Deadline Games
Erik Robertson, Nordic Game Program
Troels Linde, Senior Lecturer in Production,
Department of Game Design, Narrative and Time-Based Media, University
Alessandro Canossa, ph.d. student, Danmarks
Based on the following criteria, they picked Love Child as the winner:
The role of
the panel in the Nordic Game Jam is to give a prize to the most
innovative project, yet still taking into consideration how playable
and engaging the game is. The goal of the panel is to give a prize to
that game that, while being playable and interesting, also pushes the
boundaries of gameplay expression and game design and technology. The
panel should reward daring ideas that to some extent are practically
implemented. In short,
these are some questions that could act as guidelines for the panel’s
- Is the
game playable? (a good concept that is not playable at some state
should not be awarded) - Is the
game engaging? (a good concept that is not engaging as a computer game
should not be rewarded) - Are the
goals of the game clear? - Are the
game mechanics innovative? - Is the
programming innovative? - Is the
artistic vision innovative? - Have we
seen this gameplay before? (if the game is just a “sharp” clone, it
should not be awarded) - Does the
game contribute to computer games as entertainment? (if the game does
not think about entertainment in original and innovative ways, it
should not be awarded) - Does the
game have artistic merits as computer game? (provided you understand
games as somewhat a technological work of art, does the game contribute
to expanding what we understand as the art of videogames, from a
technical, aesthetical and design perspective?) - What is
the experimental potential of the game? (rather than the pure economic
The goal of
the NGJ is to free developers to create the wild ideas that could never
be funded. The goal of the panel is to recognize those innovative ideas
and award them beyond their merits from a commercial standpoint.
The coveted People's Prize is decided by voting. Only participants can
vote. This year the prize was won by Segregation.
Guest - One Laptop Pr Child Foundation
This year we had some special guests from the OLPC Foundation. This
also made it possible for the participants to choose to develop for the
OLPC. As an added note, ITU was granted one machine by the foundation,
so that students there now can develop for it.
Day 1 had 3 essential parts, talks &
registration, group forming and brain storming.
The first part was a series of talks that people could attend, while
also signing for the events.
The program on the friday afternoon was as follows. As you can we had
some special guest stars, including
Check in (Luggage and tech gear can be stoved in a locked room all
Tech talks 14.00: XNA
tutorial by Morten Pedersen, Microsoft Student Partner - Games 15.15: Unity
tutorial by David Helgason, OTEE 16.30: OLPC
(One Laptop Per Child) tutorial by Jesper Taxbøl
Art talks 14.00:
Development process and character design by Katherine Isbister 15.15:
Adaptive Sound Design by Torsten Kjær Sørensen, Lead Sound Programmer
Taboo... or Not Taboo - Thematical Food for Thought by Andreas
Lieberoth , Uni S.
Keynote: Balance == Death (and other thoughts on design) by Jonathan
After the keynote, everyone gathered in the big auditorium for a
welcome. And then the group forming could begin. The group forming
consisted of 3 steps:
to know each other exercises
Just like the previous last 2 years, Henriette repeated her exercises
from last year. The exercises are really good for getting people to
mingle up and relax. This year we were so many people, that this had to
be done in the atrium of ITU.
After the social exercise, people were put into groups of around 3
people. Each group then had 20 minutes to come up with at least 1 game
pitch each. After this, the pitches were presented in the big
auditorium. Each presenter had at most 30 seconds to pitch the idea.
After all ideas had been pitches, the group forming could begin. The
group forming was one big auction house, with only 2 rules; no one
could leave the room untill everyone was in a group and groups had to
have a broad enough representation of skills to make sense.
When the group forming ended around 10 PM friday evening, we had 19
groups. Most groups started work on their idea immediately.
2 - Work
harder, damnit! Work harder!
Saturday is always the very hardest day. Please start early and work
very late into the night.
Besides the good mood, one thing that characterizes the Nordic Game Jam
is the amazing food. We provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for the
participants on saturday and sunday. Not your average conference junk,
but really good food.
After the breakfast, each group do a really quick presentation in front
of everyone else. After that, everyone continue their hard work. The
complete saturday program was as follows:
10-11: Status: Presentation of ideas feed back by other groups on the
13-14: Working Lunch.
Symbiosis and Release
Deadline for handing in the games was sunday afternoon at 3 PM. This
day is really exciting, and you can see how the look of desperation
increase on peoples' face as they struggle to make the deadline.
After the deadline, the panel and the particants had 90 minutes to try
the games, before the presentations would start.
After this, the presentations would begin. With 19 presentations, and
each presentation taking around 10 minutes, approx 3 hours of intense
and exciting talks awaited.
After the presentations, there was 15 minutes for voting, after which
the winners were announced.
After a big applause for everyone, it was game over, and the hardcore
continued the party in the bar!
The game jam will definitely be held again next year. I think we proved
that even though the has grown to 130+ people, it is still possible to
keep a friendly and intimite atmosphere.
However, with so many people, we also learned a few lessons again this
The group forming was a little disfunctional
with so many people. We will do something about this next year.
The Nordic Game Jam seem to have become an
institution, which causes people to become more competitive and more
prepared. Some people seem to come with a lot of work already done.
Perhaps this can be remedied with more than track next year.
Too much paper. Everything will be done
electronically next year, but we will also be a bit more harsh on
people fulfilling the submission guidelines.
The helping crew was swarmed in work. Things
need to be professionalized for next year.
If you have any constructive criticism, negative or positive, please
don't hesitate to contact the organizers.