São Paulo High FIVE: the fifth Game Jam in São Paulo

The fifth Game Jam of the ART GAMES series took place in São Paulo. From 23 to 25 June, 2017, 47 game developers, artists, musicians and games enthusiasts from other areas foregathered at the Goethe-Institut São Paulo to develop games together.

Some of the participants brought with them a lot of experience; others were at a Game Jam for the first time. “I’ve always wanted to participate in a Game Jam, but didn’t dare before, since I study humanities and don’t come from the area. So I thought it was great that this Game Jam expressly sought people without proven previous knowledge”, said one of the participants at the kickoff to the Jam. Others thought it great that the Jam focused on games with a social-critical potential: “This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for”, said the journalist and writer Ian Quint Leisner. “Computer games could change the world – I’m convinced of that. When I saw the announcement for the Jam, I absolutely wanted to be there. To entertain people and at the same time stimulate them to thought is for me the perfect combination.”

Prof. Gilson Schwartz, a media scientist at the Universidade de São Paulo, gave an introductory lecture on the emancipatory potential of play in the tradition of Schiller: play as an experience of wholeness and freedom. From this he even derived the theme of the Game Jams: emancipation. After the first brainstorming, the participants quickly got together into eleven groups and the actual Game Jam could begin. The ideas for the games were as diverse and exciting as the concentration of the participants was intense, ranging from impressive VR simulations and complex political games in which the players voted by lifting up their mobile phones to a moving virtual museum about coming-out experiences.

In the following 48 hours the jammers spread themselves out over the entire institute and could be found in the library, cafeteria, auditorium, garden, hammocks hung in the reading garden and in the corridors. On Sunday afternoon, the proud groups presented their results amid cheers before all the games were played together. Late into the evening, the participants discussed and celebrated the shared art of games. Not without pride, a game developer announced that, for the first time, one of her games moved a player to tears.

Finally, a jury consisting of Sérgio Nesteriuk, Professor of Game Design at the Universidade Anhembi Morumbi and curator of the BIG Festival for Independent Games in São Paulo; Claudio Gusmão, Professor of Animation at the Universidade Anhembi Morumbi; Eduardo Cachucho, a visual artist from South Africa; and Katharina von Ruckteschell-Katte, Regional Director of the Goethe-Institute in South America, chose four games: The Fire Inside, Link, A.M.E. and Freeman. The jury in Germany, to which the games of all Jams are submitted for final selection, plumped for Link. The game will be presented in Germany in 2018. Independently of the jury’s choice, one thing is certain: the acquaintances made and networks established during ART GAMES will continue long after the Game Jam itself.