Be sure to register your Arctic Climate Game Jam site at bit.ly/ACGJsite!
Note of appreciation to the the organizers of the Global Game Jam (TM), especially Lindsay Grace, Vice President of the Global Game Jam(TM) and Director of the American University Game Lab for assistance with this inforamtion.
Jam Site Participants
Decide whether you want open sign-ups, invited participants, or a mix. Inviting participants will give you more control over the balance of skills and skill levels on site during the jam. Open sign-up, however, will make the jam more accessible to new or less well-known jammers, and increase the chance of unexpected and unusual collaborations. A mix may work well: you can hold a few spaces for invitees who bring in needed expertise and provide visibility, but otherwise keep sign-ups open, or reserve a certain number of slots for people with specific skills (e.g., programming, board game design) or backgrounds (e.g., students, academics).
Jam Site Theme
- It is recommended that you stay with the general theme of Arctic climate change. You can focus on how this connects to your local community or organizational mission.
- Your site can also pick a more specific set of topics. Will your site focus on a specific educational level, issues in your local area, etc., or allow a broader range of projects?
Offer the tools your jammers will need.
- Encourage participants to bring laptops and other tools they expect to need, but you may want to have a few computers available with common programs/platforms loaded, plus a few more basic design tools. Additional technology includes a digital projector (and dongles for different computers), audio amplification (microphones, speakers for computers) and powerstrips for laptops.
- Other materials to have available include:
- Nametags for participants
- Pens, pencils, markers
- Paper (white, construction, large format, etc)
- Small sticky pads
- Large sticky pads
- Dry erase boards and markers
- Art supplies (if you have having participants create paper prototypes)
Decide whether to encourage team formation in advance or on-site.
- Global Game Jam participants enjoyed themselves more with team formation on site–though they tended to enjoy themselves either way!–but were happier with their games when they had the chance to do some planning in advance. If people are going to form teams on site, have a plan for supporting a good mix of skills and skill levels, and for “matchmaking” if anyone has difficulty.
- Encourage participants to form teams on site; many people find this to be an important part of the intensive game jam experience.
The right on-site advisors can make a big difference.
- We’re planning to have a few climate scientists and designers available online so that teams can ask questions and check their understanding of scientific details. However, if you have a few experts on site for at least part of the jam, it can add energy to the design process and give people a more personal connection with the issues. If you have a local theme, include advisors who can focus on that area specifically. We will also put out a call for climate scientists in your area to come to your site at key times of the jam.
- Think about the advisors who’ll be most useful for your site, and invite them early. Offer participation options that are respectful of their time (for example, being on site for a few hours on Friday night or Saturday morning, as people get their projects started).
Decide how to balance the intensity of the schedule.
- It is up to each site to decide the timeframe of their game jam. If you’re tight on time, mini-game jams that run for just 3 hours can produce basic yet creative prototypes. Some schools may wish to run their game jam over the period of week, encouraging students to work on their games during a daily class period or after school. And other sites may wish to stick with the more traditional and intensive 48-hour game jam model.
- Some people enjoy the energy of a 48-hour intensive dash to create a prototype–and you can lose momentum if everyone heads home at 10 PM on Saturday night! At the same time, many people aren’t physically up to an all-nighter, or aren’t in a position to catch up on sleep before going back to work on Monday, and would see a 24/7 expectation as a barrier to participation.
- Most sites should announce core hours of 9AM – 12 AM, but with options available for those who want to keep working all night. Some sites may have security or other needs that will require more rigid hours–make sure your participants know what to expect.
- Remind people at the start to keep stray and tangent ideation minimal. Use timers and verbal announcements to make total time left for the jam highly visible. Keep these reminders fun and exciting–think “New Years Eve” or “Jeopardy,” not “timed exam.”
- As described above, have tools available for a range of projects, and talk about non-digital as well as digital games in your outreach. Encourage participants to think about–and research–different types of players, and how they might want to learn about adaptation strategies. What media do they use, and what kinds of platforms and materials do they have available? Help teams manage time.
- The intensity of the jam and the short time frame can encourage great work, but are also an unusual situation. Teams benefit from regular reminders of the time frame and the focus needed to get a prototype ready. Encourage many kinds of games.
- The Climate Education Game Jam encourages the creation of video games, board games, card games, alternate reality games, mobile games for both smart and basic phones… any format and medium that participants are interested in working on. Not only will this attract a wider range of participants, but it will also increase accessibility for players. Adaptation to climate change is a global problem–and in many places where the problem is most urgent, technology is limited.
Document what happens at your site. There are many ways to track and record what happens at your jam. These records can help make more vivid publicity afterwards, but they’re also useful for figuring out what went well, and what can be improved in future jams. Each site should have copes of the NOAA Talent Release form so that images associated with the gamejam can be used later. Options include filming teams at work, interviewing them throughout the process, and having “reporters” who can observe the jam and write down their impressions. We’ll have more specific recommendations on this topic as we get closer to the game jam weekend, but at minimum each team should produce a 2 minute video of their work to upload at the conclusion of their development time. Publicity As we get closer to the jam, we’ll have talking points and templates available to support publicity efforts. Here are some ideas for prizes and recognition.
- The Climate Education Game Jam overall isn’t a contest, but a chance for people to have fun while they learn about climate adaption, find new ways to teach others, and get recognition for their creative ideas. Follow-up showcase events will highlight some of the exciting games coming out of each site.
- Your site might want to offer local recognition and prizes in addition to the awards of the National jam. Consider your expected participants pool and think about what categories you could recognize, what criteria you’ll use for winners, who will do the judging, and what kinds of rewards you can offer. Prizes don’t need to be monetary–they might include mentorship, opportunities to participate in future events, or just medals and certificates that people can show off. Consider looking for sponsors who can donate these things or support their creation.
- At minimum, have a “people’s choice” or a few judges on site to pick games for later recognition at showcase events. Each site will receive a box of materials that can be used for recognition purposes or game planning.
- Jams make the biggest difference when you stay in touch with teams afterwards, and support them as they develop their work. Can the people who come to the jam become a resource for your organization later, and you for them? If people want to turn their prototypes into full games, are there ways you can help–or can you at least check in, let them know you’re interested in their progress, and publicize whatever happens next?
- Follow-up is likely to vary widely between sites, but at minimum, save contact information from sign-ups and track team formation. This should be provided to the national coordination team who will stay in touch with teams and track completed games for consideration in showcases and game development mentoring.
Anti-Harrassment and Inclusiveness Policies Anti-harassment policies show clearly that your jam site welcomes everyone who’s interested in participating. They make it easier for people on site to focus on having fun and creating great games, rather than personal conflicts. They also reduce liability, by setting policies for handling conflicts that do arise. The Climate Game Jam (CGJ) focuses on bringing communities together through collaboration, innovation and experimentation. No sexism, racism, discrimination or any kind of exclusion will be tolerated in association with the CGJ and we reserve the right to refuse and/or remove content based on those principles. We encourage inclusive and welcoming environments in all our locations. We encourage a free and open activity where creativity should know no censorship and we hope all participants will exercise their creative freedoms. CGJ is not liable for anyone’s specific views and opinions. We are committed to providing a friendly, safe, and welcoming environment for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, appearance, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship, socioeconomic status, and religion (or lack thereof). Appropriate Behavior
- All participants must exercise consideration and respect in their speech and actions, attempt collaboration before conflict, and refrain from demeaning, discriminatory, or harassing behavior and speech. We also expect the same consideration and respect to be applied to games and content created during GGJ events.
- Be mindful of your surroundings and of your fellow participants. Alert community leaders if you notice a dangerous situation, someone in distress, or violations of this Code of Conduct, even if they seem inconsequential.
- Unacceptable behaviors include: intimidating, harassing, abusive, discriminatory, derogatory or demeaning speech or actions by any participant in our site locations or online community, at all related events and in one-on-one communications carried out in the context of community business. Community event venues may be shared with members of the public; please be respectful to all patrons of these locations.
- Harassment includes: harmful or prejudicial verbal or written comments related to gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, appearance, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship, socioeconomic status, or religion; deliberate intimidation, stalking or following; harassing photography or recording; sustained disruption of talks or other events; inappropriate physical contact; and unwelcome sexual attention.
Consequences of Unacceptable Behavior
- Anyone asked to stop unacceptable behavior is expected to comply immediately.
- If a community member engages in unacceptable behavior, local site organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, up to and including a temporary ban or permanent expulsion from the community without warning.
- If you are subject to or witness unacceptable behavior, or have any other concerns, please notify your local or site organizer as soon as possible.
- If you feel you have been falsely or unfairly accused of violating this Code of Conduct, you should notify your local or regional GGJ organizer with a concise description of your grievance.
- Geek Feminism’s open source anti-harassment policy.
- Ada Initiative round-up of resources for safe programming spaces.
- Jim Hines’s anti-harassment policy starter kit.
Other Game Jam Models
- The Global Game Jam is a multi-site jam that announces themes at the start of the weekend. They encourage formation of teams on-site. They don’t restrict game formats but do focus on video games.
- The Nordic Game Jam is a single-site mixed-skill-level jam with a video game track and a board game track. Teams form on site and participants bring their own tools.
- Ludum Dare is an online jam held three times each year, with themes announced at the start of each. The focus is on video games. There is a solo track and a team track.
- The White House Education Game Jam gathered educators, students, and game developers in Washington DC to create new learning games. Teams formed in advance, and brought their own tools. Follow-up events and funding supported further development on several of the games.
- NASA’s space-themed game jam offers some useful lessons learned.
Guides for Running Game Jams
Other Useful Resources
- The Game Accessibility Site provides guidelines for designing games that are more usable by people with disabilities and other access issues. Think about how this may be helpful to different kinds of people–for example, older adults may want to learn more about climate change, but relatively few resources target their needs.
- A starting list of resources for jam participants.
- Another list of resources for jammers and independent game developers.
- Not everything in this guide to running a hackathon is relevant to a game jam, but there are some useful tips (we particularly recommend the section on making useful name tags that actively support teaming)
- Hansson, T. (2014). Enhancing game jam experiences: Finding more productive and focused group work interactions through establishing a framework. Interaction design Year 1 Master project, Malmo University. Available Online.
- Scott, M., Ghinea, G. & Hamilton, I. (2014). Promoting inclusive design practice at the global game jam: A pilot evaluation. Presented at the IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference. Available online.
- Turner, J., Owen, C. & Thomas, L. (2013). Living the indie life: Mapping creative teams in a 48 hour game jam and playing with data. Presented at the 9th Australasian Conference on Interactive Environment: Matters of Life and Death. Archived in the ACM Digital Library.
- JamToday is a European organization that supports the development & evaluation of educational games. They have a toolkit on their website containing “evaluation” materials, but it’s hidden behind a membership wall. Basic evaluation sheet here (used for determining winners)
Basic Rules of Videography
Each site should plan to share 2-3 video clips of 1-2 minutes each and 10 high resolution still photos of the game development process. Site coordinators were provided with a NOAA Talent Release form and each person appearing in any photography much complete a form.
These suggestions about good video (and photography) were compiled by the NOAA Ocean Today team.
- It’s about emotion. The first thing to consider is the story you’re trying to tell. Video stories are not about facts and figures. Video deals best with emotion and feelings. Use video to tell the viewer how your subject feels.
- Tell a story. The second thing to remember is that video stories are linear – you need a beginning, a middle, and an end. A video is like a short story, not like an inverted pyramid. Find a character.
- It’s visual. Third, video is a form of visual communication. The visuals must be compelling, with interesting shots and action. A talking head is not good video.
- Can you hear me now? And finally, the most important thing in video is the audio. If the sound is bad, you’ve lost your audience. Record carefully.
Shoot with the Edit in Mind
- Hold. Every time you hit record. Hold on the subject for at least five or ten seconds before you move the camera in any way.
- Movement. You can pan – side to side – up or down – onto the main scene you are filming. You can start with an establishing shot and then Zoom in close OR you can start with a close-up and Zoom out for perspective. Once you are on the person / scene hold the camera for at least 10 seconds before moving.
- In Focus. Basic, but always make sure that you what you are shooting is in focus.
- Orientation. If you’re filming with a cell phone, make sure to hold it so the video comes out horizontal, not vertical.
Tips for Success
- Plan. Plan before you go. For example, if you’ll be shooting a car crash, you’ll need video of witnesses – emergency workers, police, and survivors. For the wreckage – you’ll need a wide shot of the location, close-ups of broken glass, and emergency staff at work. And for B-roll – video of broken glass.
- Shoot with discipline. Besides shooting the interview, take video of everything the person talked about.
- Shoot for variety. Be conscious of the shots you take, and be very careful with panning and zooming.
- Sample Shot List:
- Location, both inside and out. Nice establishing shots of the building and the rooms where activity is taking place help orient us.
- Large groups of people.
- Activity, from group brainstorming discussions to coding.
- People having fun.
- Crunch time – when things get down to the wire.