reFOURm: the fourth Game Jam in Jakarta

In the center of the Indonesian capital, more precisely in the newly opened Jakarta Creative Hub, 37 people all told gathered to develop artistic-political games at the fifth Game Jam of the ART GAMES project from 19 to 21 May 2017. Like all game jams in the series, this one was created in cooperation with Maschinen-Mensch and was funded by the German Foreign Office. Other local partner institutions were the Duniaku Network and Asosiasi Game Indonesia.

Great effort was made to ensure that the participants came from different professional backgrounds and levels of know-how, so there was also a good mix of experience with game development at the Jakarta Creative Hub. After the official opening ceremony, Johannes Kristmann (of Maschinen-Mensch), Patota Putra Tambuna (freelance developer) and Yanuar Tanzil (member of the AGI) revealed the secret theme of the Game Jam: “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” - which is also the national motto of Indonesia and translated means as much as “unity in diversity”. The theme triggered strong and emotional responses in many participants and an exciting discussion emerged. Then with the help of get-acquainted games the participants came to together in teams and began work. It was two o'clock in the morning before the first went off to sleep.

Saturday morning began with lectures by Johannes Kristman and Yanuar Tanzil on independent game development, in which they talked about what employment in this field means and how to attain it. The aim was that this input should be particularly helpful for the predominantly young professionals present.

A very special moment of the Game Jams was surely the live broadcast, via the internet, to the Goethe-Institut in Boston, where another Game Jam of the series was taking place simultaneously. People on two different sides of the globe sat in front of the cameras and exchanged views on their ideas about political games and their own projects.

By the end of the Game Jam, the teams had developed ten playable games, of which the local jury chose four: “Room of Truth”, about interrogating an alleged criminal and focusing on presenting police methods and showing the problems of limiting violence and the authority of state power; "Shoojump", a cooperative game that at first glance has little to do with politics, but whose basic mechanics is that no player has any chance on his own so that mutual agreements, coordination and trust are absolutely necessary to be successful; "Follow Me!", about building a following, which begins with the players determining themselves in one of three different ways that will influence how they can acquire new followers in the course of the game; and "Babel-o-Rama", in which players can connect to each other locally via a great number of smartphones, allowing games of up to 15 people. The latter game is about translating words whose translations, in turn, can be found in lists that the other players see on their smartphones. The result is a game in which the players constantly call out different words (with different emphases) to each other until the "final" translation is found and the successful group receives a point. It was great to see how most of the game happens directly between people and not through devices. This game was chosen by the jury in Germany for the finalists contest. Together with the winning games of the seven other sites, it will be exhibited at the A MAZE. Festival in Berlin (April 25 to 29, 2018).

Goethe-Institut Jakarta