Last weekend, I participated in a special game jam here in Chile organized by LA.PCERA. Why special? Besides being a competition with a $1000 USD prize, the jam was about making games for scientific divulgation, a really respectable goal. I just went for the fun of the jam, especially since this time I was participating with friends (I usually go solo and join a team on site) and I never really thought about the prize… until I won! Totally unexpected…
Each team had to ally themselves with a investigation center, and we choose ESMOI, the center of Ecology and Sustainable Management of Oceanic Islands. One of their lines of investigation was marine birds, and we thought it could translate to a game really well. We took forever in the brainstorming phase (6 hours), but the result was a 2D side shooter where you played as a “bird riding insect” fighting against the bird’s predators, such as rats. We also decided to emphasize the importance of the birds excrements, since the elements they released when they descomposed in the sea served as nutrients for sea planktons. The name we went for was “Ka Hoki Te Manu”, “Return of the Birds” in the Easter Island language.
It was a fun jam! There was a ton of food and drink, in part thanks to the goverment backing this event had. Oh, and did I mention it was free? It was great working with people I knew and that knew what they were doing, and the game came together really smoothly, although part of me worried the scientific divulgation part was kinda forgotten… The final presentation was pretty long, and lots of the games were really interesting. I wasn’t expecting much when it was time for the prize, but… they suddenly called our game’s name! The mix of happiness and surprise was interesting to say the least.
But the story doesn’t end here… Another reason this jam was special is because it was co-organized by the “Future Congress”, an organization dedicated to scientific divulgation that hosts a yearly expo in January. Now that we won the jam, we were tasked with developing an expanded version of the game to be presented in next year’s expo. Actually… we won’t get the $1000 USD until we finish that version of the game XD
But I’m looking forward to continuing this game! It’s my first step to slightly more profesional gamedev, so I’m looking forward to seeing where this will lead.