Category Archives: games jam

GameTheNews to Join Europe‘s First Newsgames Hackathon

The New York Times’ most popular story of 2013 was not an article. It was an interactive quiz. The Times They Are A-Changin. Games as the defining medium of the 21st century are obviously starting to disrupt journalism.

In order to accelerate this process the independent game studio, the Good Evil and the Cologne Game Lab are organising Europe‘s first Newsgames Hackathon in Cologne, Germany this spring.

Journalists, programmers and game designers are invited to conceptualise and produce working prototypes in 48 hours. The results will then be presented during this years Clash of Realities, an international acclaimed computer game conference.

The young genre has already been tried out worldwide by innovative media companies like The New York Times, Huffington Post, Wired, BBC, Channel 4, The Guardian and Le Monde.

“In a clear distinction to classical linear approaches Newsgames allow the interactive experience of content and are very well suited to explain systems“, says Marcus Bösch. The german journalist and co-founder of the Good Evil is the Hackathon’s initiator.

For several years he has been busy exploring Newsgames. After having given workshops, talks and media appearances on the topic he, together with his game studio, has designed PRISM – The Game: Germany‘s very first Newsgame, published by Arte Future.

Now the Good Evil in cooperation with the Cologne Game Lab, an institute of the Cologne University of Applied Science, wants to bring together journalists, game designers and programmers on May 6th and 7th.  Dr. Tomas Rawlings from GameTheNews, shortlisted for a GamesIndustry.biz Innovation Award, will hold a keynote,“We see newsgames as a means of talking to gamers about the world around them in a language they understand. Games as a form has expanded and we’re seeing them being put to use for everything from curing cancer to teaching maths. When it comes to news and current affairs we’re right at the start of an exciting journey.“

Attendance to the event is free of charge. Anyone interested can apply online until March 20th: http://newsgames-hackathon.tumblr.com/applyhttp://newsgames-hackathon.tumblr.com/apply Participants from Austria or Switzerland can apply for a scholarship that covers travel and hotel costs thanks to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and the Forum Journalismus und Medien in Vienna. Deutsche Welle, Germany‘s international broadcaster is the main media partner of the event.

Newsgames Hackathon. May 6th and 7th in Cologne, Germany. The results will be presented during this years Clash of Realities Conference on May 8th.

Coverage:

Royal Society invites online gamers to vote for their favourite science inspired game

Online gamers and visitors to the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition are today being invited to vote for their favourite science inspired game. Gamers will be able to play and then vote for one of four games developed at a 12 hour Game Jam hosted by the Royal Society in May. The Game Jam saw scientists taking part in this year’s Summer Science Exhibition team up with experienced games development studios to bring the science behind their exhibits to life.
The games can be played online on the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition website or found as free PC downloads via the IndieCity website. They will also be available to play at special games stations throughout the Summer Science Exhibition at the Royal Society.

Players will be encouraged to vote for the game that they think is the most fun, playable and explains the science best. The game with the most votes will receive funding to be developed further – perhaps by adding another level or extra characters or making it available on more devices. Voting closes on Sunday 7th July. The games competing for further funding are:

  • A Pinch of Salt: an ocean set 3D game which sees players pilot an ocean glider and measuring sea salt and trying to cover as much ground as possible in a limited time, developed by Kanko and the University of East Anglia.
  • Cell Invaders: a puzzle-action game exploring the complex life of sugars, developed by Robin Baumgarten, Gorm Lai, Benjamin Donoghue and the University of Manchester.
  • Out Both Ends: a biomedical puzzle game about identifying the source of an outbreak of disease, developed by Opposable Games, Force of Habit and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
  • Quantum Revolution: an excitement packed space shooter game based on quantum physics, developed by Bossa Studios and Toshiba Research Europe Ltd.

Professor Peter Sadler FRS, chair of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition selecting committee, said: “We’re delighted that our first ever Summer Science Exhibition Game Jam was such a success. It was great to see the enthusiasm with which scientists and developers alike approached the gruelling 12 hour Game Jam. The games that they were able to develop in such a short time are absolutely fantastic. The Summer Science Exhibition is all about communicating the wonders of science to the public in new and exciting ways. I’ve certainly had a wonderful time trying out all of the games and I look forward to seeing which game triumphs in the public vote!”

Unity Technologies, a games development software company, has supported the Royal Society in designing and running the Game Jam, through Unity, the flexible and high-performance development platform used to make creative and intelligent interactive 3D and 2D experiences. The Royal Society is partnering with indie game distribution portal, IndieCity, to share the games produced at the jam. The vote’s Twitter hashtag is #RSgamejam

Auroch Digital produced the event and also developed a game for one of the exhibitions, Zombeetle & The Fossil Colour Quest.

 Zombeetle and the Fossil Colour Quest

Zombeetle and the Fossil Colour Quest

Some links to this:

Royal Society invites game developers to bring research to life at Summer Science Exhibition

The Royal Society is looking for experienced games development studios to take part in new initiative that will turn some of the research on show at its annual Summer Science Exhibition into video games. The Royal Society will host a 12 hour game jam on 24th May that will see developers work with the scientists behind exhibits to produce five exciting new games.

Royal Society Game Jam 2013

Royal Society Game Jam 2013

Unity Technologies, a games development software company, will support the Royal Society in creating fun interpretations of the science that will be on show at this year’s Exhibition. Of the 23 exhibits taking part this year, 5 will be selected to take part in the game jam. The Royal Society is partnering with indie game distribution portal, IndieCity, to share the games produced at the jam.

The game jam will take place at the Royal Society in London. Five development teams of up to 4 developers will be partnered with the selected exhibitors for an all-day game jamathon from 10am – 10pm. Each development team will receive £2,000 to further develop their games after the game jam so that they are ready to be played at the Summer Science Exhibition which runs from 1st – 7th July. The games will be available free online and at the exhibition itself so that the public can cast votes for their favourite game. The team that receives the most votes will receive an additional £2,000 to further develop the games once the Exhibition closes.

Professor Peter Sadler, chair of the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition selecting committee, said:

“The Summer Science Exhibition is one of the highlights of the Royal Society’s year. It provides a unique opportunity for members of the public to interact with scientists and ask them questions about their work. We’re very excited to be introducing a new element to the Exhibition this year in the form of the Games Jam. An increasing number of exhibitors have used games as a way of communicating their science over the last few years and we’re hoping that by giving some of them an opportunity to be part of the Games Jam it will bring state-of-the-art creativity and innovation to their video games and some fantastic news ways of bringing their cutting-edge research to life for our visitors. I’m really looking forward to playing with what’s created on the day!”

The Royal Society invites the UK’s talented games development sector to join it in communicating the fun and fascination of science. Interested developers can find out more about the competition and how to apply from the Royal Society’s website at bit.ly/RSgamejam .The event’s Twitter hashtag is #RSgamejam

This project is being produced for the Royal Society by Auroch Digital (aurochdigital.com) in conjunction with Unity 3D and IndieCity.   The accompanying image for the event can be found here.

Links to articles:

Amy from MM on XX Game Jam

Amy from Media Molecule has written a great blog post all about the XX Game Jam, which is well worth a read:

We made a game called Android Grim Reaper – you play the Grim Reaper and have to find and harvest souls as their timer runs out. About 30 minutes before the end of the jam we didn’t have a game that ran, but with a lot of head scratching, and plenty of ingenuity, we pulled together and got a build limping towards functionality. Of course we were over ambitious, tried to do far too much in the 24 hours available, but that’s half the fun and makes for a tense and exciting finish! We’ll be polishing the game and hopefully in a week or so it’ll still be fun, but will also be vaguely understandable to players other than the dev team :)

It was an awesome day, so inspiring and a lot of fun! I’m pregnant which makes you pretty tired at the drop of a hat, so it has taken a week or so to recover from the late nights, but it was SO worth it.  I’ll definitely be GameJamming again soon!

Android Grim Reaper game concept from XX Game Jam

Winning Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam Entries now Online to Enjoy!

A busy audience assembled at the ExPlay event in Bath on the 2nd of November to hear the winning games announced from the eight short-listed titles. After much anticipation Professor Bruce Hood awarded the winning teams their prizes:

First Prize: HIVe (Java download, video)

In HIVe the deception moves to a molecular level, where one player is a HIV infected cell disguised as a normal cell, seeking to infect other cells. The second player is an antiretroviral seeking to find and destroy the infection. The developers write, “The objective of the HIV player is to infect as many cells as possible before being caught by the antiretroviral drug player. We felt that the lifecycle of a virus is a constant battle of deception with the body and our game tries to capture this whilst at heart still being a game and being fun. We felt using HIV as the virus was important for its relation to scientific research and global social issues.”

HIVe screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

Second Prize: Qualit-eye Control (iPad, video)

Based around the structure of the human eye and using the inspiration of the Thatcher Illusion, where it becomes hard to detect changes in an upside-down face. In this puzzle game, the player must select if a given object is really the same as its mirrored counterpart. The developers wrote of their game; “Given the theme of deception in science, we began thinking about how the human eye is an astoundingly amazing tool – yet deceptive. The human brain has to process a lot of data continually, so will occasionally make assumptions and take shortcuts, meaning we occasionally interpret false images in line with our expectations… So we developed Qualiteye Control, a game that puts the player in the position of a miniature scientist acting as a controller between the eyeball and the brain of Prototype X1.”

QualiteyeControl screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

Wildcard Prize: InCogNeto (Android download)

A two-player game in which each player must connect cogs to a top wheel and at each turn select it to mask their actions or advance their plans. The developer wrote of their game, “…inspired by the idea of subterfuge, how we deceive ourselves and create false realities when we don’t have all the information… Strategy and tactics play an important role as you read your opponent’s body language, listen for audible clues (i.e. the rack moving) and use spatial memory to spot changes in the playspace. While your body is performing quality control of a widgetoid factory – you must decide what widgetoids are correct, and which ones are being falsely interpreted and need to be rejected quickly.”

InCogNeto screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

The judging was based around the balance of the gameplay and the science so the judges looked for great games that integrated the science into the gameplay.

The judging was based around the balance of the gameplay and the science so the judges, Professor Hood, Dr John Williams, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust and Dan Efergan, Creative Director at Aardman Digital, looked for great games that integrated the science into the gameplay. The games needed to be fun to play; they were not looking to develop a ‘worthy’ game, it needed to be fun in its own right. The aim was to make the combination of the science and the gameplay engage the player; those that did scored well.

The games were created on the 5th and 6th of October during the Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam. The event, held over two locations, the Science Museum in London and the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol, saw over 100 developers create 22 entries around the theme of Deception. Where possible, the games from the event are available online at: explay.co.uk/gamesjam and are free to play.

Links to this story:

Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam Shortlist Announced!

On the 5th and 6th of October this year we held the Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam (also see here). This event, over two locations, the Science Museum in London and the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol, saw over 100 developers create 22 games around the theme of Deception. The theme was presented to the group by Professor Bruce Hood.

The judging panel, Professor Hood, John Williams – Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust and Dan Effingham – Creative Director at Aardman Digital, reviewed the games, and eight out of 22 were then shortlisted to be shown at the ExPlay Festival on the 2nd November. Prize-winners will also be announced at the event for first and second place and a Wildcard place too. The judging was based around the balance of the gameplay and the science so the judges looked for great games that integrated the science into the gameplay. The games needed to be fun to play; they were not looking to develop a ‘worthy’ game, it needed to be fun in its own right. The aim was to make the combination of the science and the gameplay engage the player; those that did scored well.

The shortlisted games (in no particular order) are:

Alien Laser Bunnies (Unity download) – video link
A two-player game about hiding within the crowd. Players must figure out which of the identical bunnies is them, then collect objects and use their laser to kill the other player before they can do the same. The movement of the other bunnies is based on an algorithm that records the movements of the players and re-uses them for movement of AI controlled bunnies. The developers wrote of their game; “Winning at Alien Laser Bunnies requires people to exercise social mimicry. They must imitate the movements of previous players in order to best deceive their opponent. In this respect it provides a strong framework for various tactics of deception. Further, the game tends towards a state of homeostasis as the mimicry creates a feedback loop of behaviours.”

Alien Laser Bunnies screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

Qualit-eye Control (iPad) – video link
Based around the structure of the human eye and using the inspiration of the Thatcher Illusion, where it becomes hard to detect changes in an upside-down face. In this puzzle game, the player must select if a given object is really the same as its mirrored counterpart. The developers wrote of their game; “Given the theme of deception in science, we began thinking about how the human eye is an astoundingly amazing tool – yet deceptive. The human brain has to process a lot of data continually, so will occasionally make assumptions and take shortcuts, meaning we occasionally interpret false images in line with our expectations… So we developed Qualiteye Control, a game that puts the player in the position of a miniature scientist acting as a controller between the eyeball and the brain of Prototype X1.”

QualiteyeControl screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

InCogNeto (Android download)
A two-player game in which each player must connect cogs to a top wheel and at each turn select it to mask their actions or advance their plans. The developer wrote of their game, “…inspired by the idea of subterfuge, how we deceive ourselves and create false realities when we don’t have all the information… Strategy and tactics play an important role as you read your opponent’s body language, listen for audible clues (i.e. the rack moving) and use spatial memory to spot changes in the playspace. While your body is performing quality control of a widgetoid factory – you must decide what widgetoids are correct, and which ones are being falsely interpreted and need to be rejected quickly.”

InCogNeto screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

HIVe (Java download) – video link
In HIVe the deception moves to a molecular level, where one player is a HIV infected cell disguised as a normal cell, seeking to infect other cells. The second player is an antiretroviral seeking to find and destroy the infection. The developers write, “The objective of the HIV player is to infect as many cells as possible before being caught by the antiretroviral drug player. We felt that the lifecycle of a virus is a constant battle of deception with the body and our game tries to capture this whilst at heart still being a game and being fun. We felt using HIV as the virus was important for its relation to scientific research and global social issues.”

HIVe screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

DupliCity (Unity download) – video link
This action game sees the player running along trying to avoid objects, but with a twist, as the game itself sets out to confuse and deceive. The developer states: “You and your shadow run simultaneously in mirror worlds populated by obstacles. Why? To escape. Also because there’s fireworks at the end! Through the use of asymmetry, transparency, repetition and subliminal signs, the game helps you overcome the obstacles but also misleads you. A briefly flashing arrow directing you; a sign on a truck; a crate that looks real but isn’t – things that you notice and take for granted even if you aren’t paying attention.”

Duplicity screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

Doors of Deception (Flash download)
In this game we have to ask ourselves to question the truth of what the game is telling us. Can the game deceive us more that we can progress? The game is a five level puzzle game of truth, lies, deception, illusions and more. You can only progress if you figure out how to solve the puzzles in spite of the seemingly helpful narrator.

Doors of Deception screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

The Art of Deceit (Web-Comic) – video link
A web-comic about deception, the developers write, “The Art of Deceit is an interactive science fiction comic for children that explores the role of falsehood and misinformation in the intelligence services. Set on a distant asteroid, the player takes on the role of a spy with a vital top secret mission… Success is dictated by the player’s ability to correctly spot and interpret optical illusions. As a whole the game highlights that visual perception cannot always be trusted. The components of an object can distort the perception of the complete object. Our mind is the final arbiter of truth.”

The Art of Deceit screenshot (Wellcome Trust ExPlay Game Jam 2012)

Blood Stream Bandits (Android download) – video link
In this action game, we again return to the molecular level, “Working together with a neurobiologist, we came up with a game inspired by viruses that enter the bloodstream and deceive body defences by pretending to be harmless cells. In our game you control triangular shapes, which can be combined to form squares. There are two types of monsters, one eats triangles and the other eats squares, and each can be deceived by arranging your units in the corresponding opposite shape. The game requires reflexes and quick thinking to arrange your units to deceive as many enemy cells as you can.”

Remember, each of these games had a maximum of 24 hours of development and given many teams elected to catch a few hours sleep, most of them had less. So a huge well done to all the teams who competed, not just those shortlisted; the judges had a tough time with their selections!

All About the XX Game Jam

We produced the first ever all-women game jam!  The XX Game Jam in was in London on the 26th and 27th October 2012. It was kindly been hosted by Mind Candy (the creators of Moshi Monsters) and has been supported by a number of organisations and people – UWE’s Digital Cultures Research Centre, UKIE, Ada Lovelace Day, Connection Point Technology, PlayMob, London Games Festival as well as us at Auroch Digital.  The event has had some great coverage, including:

Gaming Thinktank, GamesIndustry.biz, RantGaming & the BBC (also on video)

“Within eight days of the registration going live we had filled 40 spaces,” said Debbie Rawlings, “We have a waiting list of about another 40 already so we could run another next week and I’m totally confident that would sell out too.”

The theme for games created at the XX Game Jam was clockwork, a nod to Ada Lovelace, the female mathematician credited with writing the world’s first computer programs in the 1800s.

She worked with Charles Babbage, an inventor whose “difference engine”, a complex calculation machine which he designed but never built, is now considered to be the earliest computer.

Debbie from Auroch was the prinicapl producer of the event while Tomas joined a great group of judges for the event: Jo Twist from UKIE, Suw Charman-Anderson from Ada Lovelace Day and Martha Henderson from Wellcome Trust.

The XX Game Jam gets underway…(images from xxgamejam.tumblr.com)

Wellcome Trust ExPlay Games Jam a Huge Success!

The Wellcome Trust ExPlay game jam has happened and was, by all accounts, a huge success.  We’re still collating the games produced but over the 24 hours of the 2 sites the event ran at over 20 games have been produced – and the quality is very high!  It was expertly opened by Professor Bruce Hood – who gave the theme – Deception. Here’s a few images from the Bristol end of the event:

Prof Bruce Hood @ Wellcome Explay Game Jam 2012 Wellcome Explay Game Jam 2012 Prof Bruce Hood @ Wellcome Explay Game Jam 2012

It also got a good preview on RockPaperShotgun:

My home represents the ideal. I am a gamer, my wife is a scientist. And combined, our interests make us THE GREATEST COUPLE ON EARTH. (Except she hates games.) Presumably modelled on our union is this weekend’s game jam from the Wellcome Trust – a science-themed event called ExPlay 2012. (The same Wellcome Trust who are supporting this year’s Make Something Unreal, as it happens.) Taking place tomorrow and Saturday in Bristol and London, it aims to combine the hardcore explorative processes of game making with the mysterious magicks of science.

PS. There is a video of one of the games online. More to follow!

Professor Bruce Hood to open the 2012 Games Jam

The Game Jam is now sold out, which is great news, but even better is that we’ve got Professor Bruce Hood to open the 2012 Games Jam and announce the theme!

We are extremely pleased to announce that Professor Bruce Hood, who holds the chair of Developmental Psychology in Society in the School of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol, will be opening the game jam and revealing the theme for the following 24 hours of frenetic game development.

Professor Hood is known to millions of people from his numerous books, articles and TV appearances including the 2011 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures broadcast on the BBC, continuing the venerable tradition started by Michael Faraday in 1825. His written works include two popular science books “SuperSense” (HarperOne, 2009) about the natural origins of supernatural beliefs and “The Self Illusion” (Constable & Robinson 2012) about the fallacy that we are coherent, integrated individuals but rather a constructed narrative largely influenced by those around us.

Professor Hood said, “I’m really excited to be unveiling the theme for the 2012 Welcome Trust Game Jam – science opens so many potential doors of inspiration for developers, I will be fascinated to see how it inspires new games from this event.”

You can find out much more at Bruce’s blog.

Science Game Jam Starts Soon

The joint ExPlay, Wellcome Trust, Science Museum, PM Studio games jam is due to start in few days, as the Huffington Post reports:

Not everyone can make a great video game – and even fewer can make one in less than 24 hours.

But that’s just what 120 games makers are going to try and do in a few weeks, at the 2012 ExPlay Games Jam, hosted by the Wellcome Trust, Science Museum and Pervasive Media Studios.

The Games Jam – held simultaneously in Bristol and London – will give participants 24 hours to make a brand new game on a specified theme.

And yes – it has to be playable.

A Game Jam in Bristol (photo by Jon Cooper)