Ideas are THREE: the third Game Jam in Boston

The USA is often said to be the hotbed of independent game development, so it was with much anticipation that the ART GAMES – Game Jam in Boston was set up from May 19 to 21 inside the old ornamented main hall of the Goethe-Institut Boston, complete with concert grand piano and embellished walls. 34 participants from diverse working fields and backgrounds participated in the jam to create a game about art and politics.

As all the ART GAMES – Game Jams the jam was co-organized by Maschinen-Mensch from Berlin. Riad Djemili moderated the event after a welcoming introduction by Annette Klein of the Goethe-Institut Boston. The participants were treated to a motivating keynote by Tale of Tales, who left a lasting impression on the teams who later often cited that keynote influenced their game decisions.

The German Jury was introduced next, before Riad Djemili announced the secret theme of the jam: “Unrealities”. New Media Curator and Professor George Fifield shared some final motivating words before the jam started proper with all the participants introducing themselves. Laughter and deep insights were shared when random groups were asked to agree on one word for topics such as “The most interesting game”, “Boston” and “The Future of the USA”. This was followed by a vivid and energetic round of brainstorming on what games could be created revolving around the secret theme.

After eleven teams formed spontaneously around the most exciting ideas, it meant hands down on keyboards and fingers wrapped around drawing pens for the next 2 days. The level of experience among the participants varied. One of the teams “Harmoni-us” featured old industry professionals, one team member even having over 20 years of game development experience going way back to the old Sierra days. Another team (“You Are What You Read”) featured three participants with relatively little game development experience coming together for their very first game jam.

This was the first time that two ART GAMES – Game Jams took place on the same weekend: on the other side of the globe motivated participants were jamming in Jakarta. Despite the time difference of 11 hours, teams from both sides of the world used a constant streaming connection to discuss and exchange game ideas.

The jam concluded after 48 hours with tired, but happy teams. The organizers were especially impressed by the fact that all of the teams were able to deliver playable games. The local jury consisting of Annette Klein of the Goethe-Institut Boston, Riad Djemili of Maschinen-Mensch and curator Stephanie Dvareckas of the Cyberarts Gallery Boston had a hard time narrowing down the extremely diverse games (and subjects) to just three games. In the end they chose: “Harmoni-us”, “You Are What You Read” and “Struggling Dreams”. Of these three, the jury in Germany chose “Struggling Dreams”, a game in which the player has to lead a group of fleeing people to safety. The game will be presented in Germany in 2018 by two of the team’s members. The wonderful variety of results shows how much the game jam profited from its diverse cast of participants and points of views.