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
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:
21st MARCH 2012, BRISTOL, UK: The controversial newsgame, Endgame Syria, has been updated on Android and released on two new platforms - PC and Facebook and yet the developer is still struggling to release the original title on Apple’s App Store. After three rejections, the developer has had to not only remove references to specific groups that are part of the conflict, but any reference to aswell as the actual word ‘Syria’ too. As a result the much-amended version of Endgame:Syria has made it past Apple’s approval process as ‘Endgame:Eurasia‘.
The developer, GameTheNews.net’s Tomas Rawlings remarked, “We’ve come to the end of three rejections and one appeal and the only way we’ve been able to get Endgame:Syria out on iOS was to remove all references to the real world and sadly that changes it from a ‘newsgame’ into just a ‘game’. We’ve released this game version so at least players with Apple devices can get a feel for what we originally intended for the platform. We are of course disappointed to not be able to release the game and hope that our experience informs a wider debate about how games have matured into a form that would benefit from a reappraisal by some.” To help players using the App Store version to get a feel for the original title they have released a conversion guide to explain how the wording of the game has had to be changed. By contrast to Apple’s policy decision, Endgame:Syria has been recognized by Games For Change, one of the world’s leading exponents of how games can be used beyond play.
The updated version on Android and for PC adds newer events from the ongoing war including Scud Missile strikes and the enhanced fears over WMDs. The game is free and available now from Google Play. It is also free on PC and can be downloaded from Desura, GamersGate, IndieCity, Indievania, and GameJolt.
Endgame:Syria was launched last year and allows players to explore the difficulties and options open to the rebel side in the ongoing Syrian civil war. The game attracted wide coverage for not only its subject matter but how it was received by gaming and non-gaming audiences. The developer, GameTheNews.net, has released a wide variety of games that explore current affairs from a commentary on the horse-meat scandal to covering science and technology news.
Endgame Syria to Eurasia
Card Changes in Endgame:Syria
Some of the coverage of this release includes:
BRISTOL, UK MARCH 4th, 2013: The creators of Endgame:Syria have turned their development attention to the ongoing horse-meat scandal in their latest release. In ‘Cow Crusher‘ the player runs their own meat processing plant and must ensure that its output is 100% beef, in an irreverent comment on the speed and mechanisation of our food production process. Players need to hit the right button to squish the animal into the right meat product and keep the quality high; while making sure they don’t process any horses in the works. Cow Crusher is the latest game by GameTheNews.net with the development taking around 3 days to create it’s newest newsgame. GameTheNews’s design and production director Tomas Rawlings commented, “Cow Crusher is part of an ongoing experiment into how games can play a role in news and current affairs and this time we’ve opted for a more fun approach to the topic.” The game is out now to play for free online as HTML5 and for Android devices via Google Play.
GameTheNews became a global talking-point following the release of ‘Endgame:Syria’ a game covering the ongoing war. The developer says they are still “in process” with an Apple version of Endgame:Syria and also have another serious title in production themed around the War on Drugs in Mexico.
Cow Crusher by GameTheNews.net – click to play.
“As soon as I saw this game I had to get it, one; For the humor, and two; Because it actually looked like a great game with continuous playability and that’s just what it is!” n3rdabl3.co.uk
BRISTOL, UK JANUARY 18th, 2013: Having made waves worldwide by covering the brutal Syrian civil war in the form of a game, the developers behind Endgame:Syria have released their latest ‘news game’ and this time the subject is not war, but carbon. Titled ‘Climate Defense‘ the free game released today for Android devices, offers the player the chance to stop CO2 emissions from reaching the atmosphere by capturing it in nature’s carbon sinks, trees. However there is a twist – before the game begins the player is offered a choice, if they want to play the game for fun or as a more realistic simulation – a choice that will lead to a very different gameplay experience. The games designer, Tomas Rawlings, explained more; “Normally with a video game, the developers will have made huge concessions to ensure the game is fun so with a shooting game you may be able to be shot and recover many times over which is not realistic, but does make the game fun. In Climate Defense, that distinction is apparent so you can have fun playing the game or you can choose a more realistic experience and see how our continued emissions will impact our world.” The game is free to download from the Google Play store or from the GameTheNews website.
The creators of both games, GameTheNews, became a global talking point over their release of a game covering an ongoing war, have clearly decided that making games about difficult and controversial topics is not something they are willing to shy away from. There is no sign of them turning to the more traditional topics of gaming such as zombies or aliens and they are currently developing a game about the ‘War on Drugs’.
Screenshot from ‘Climate Defense’ Click to Download from Google Play.
BRISTOL, UK DECEMBER 18th, 2012: GameTheNews.net, the team turning news into games have released their latest offerings; ‘My Cotton Picking Life‘ a game about the cruelty of child labor in Uzbekistan. The game puts the player in the role of a cotton-picker in the former Soviet state of Uzbekistan, where vast amounts of men, women and children are forced into picking cotton for the enrichment of the regime and to supply cheap material that ends up on the shelves of western stores. The game’s designer, Tomas Rawlings remarked, “The game replicates the monotony of the work these children have to do – we challenge the player to see how long they can last as a cotton picker and point out that while they can quit at any time, those forced into doing this sort of work don’t have that luxury.” The game is free and available now on the Google Playstore and on their website at http://bit.ly/mycottonpickinglife
The game took only a day to create and continues the developers direction of making games that target difficult issues, their previous game being an exploration of the Syrian conflict titled, ‘Endgame Syria‘. Both projects were created using GameMaker Studio development technology. Game the News is supported by the University of Abertay Dundee’s Prototype Fund with additional help from the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol.
Our GameTheNews.net project looking at creating games from news an current affairs has launched with a game about the war in Syria, Endgame Syria. Here is the press release:
New Game Explores War in Syria
BRISTOL, UK DECEMBER 13th, 2012: Games have been growing in force as a medium but still tend to be seen as pure entertainment. That perception is being challenged by a new release that explores the war in Syria in an interactive form, titled ‘Endgame Syria’. Developed as part of the new project GameTheNews.net, creators Auroch Digital are using rapid-game development methods to build games quickly in response to real-world events. Created in a development time of two weeks, the game allows users to explore the options open to the rebels as they push the conflict to its endgame. Each choice the user makes has consequences – the types of military units deployed, the political paths trodden. Not only does each choice impact the current situation but they also affect the final outcome. While the game was made rapidly, the developers report that even over the two weeks of development, they still had to change elements to reflect events happening in the real-world. “We wanted the events and actions in the game to mirror the real situation,” the game’s designer Tomas Rawlings explained, “So while creating this experience, we were also continually looking at the news and adding or removing components to keep the content current.” Endgame Syria is free to download.
Some may think that the choice of a game as a medium for this subject is questionable, but Tomas is adamant this is not the case, “As game developers, games are a natural way for us to express our thoughts on the world around us. Games don’t have to be frivolous or lightweight; they can and do take on serious issues and open them up to new audiences.”
Objections to the medium might be an issue of understanding the form, Tomas continues, “If the word ‘game’ is troubling then we’re happy for this to be called a ‘simulation’ or an ‘interactive experience’. For us, the point is that we’re using this medium as a means to express and explore the uncertainties of this situation. A game allows you to re-explore the same territory and see how different choices play out and understand that those choices have far-reaching consequences.”
The developers say that if this game brings the issues of the war to an audience who might otherwise not have engaged with it, then the risk of making something controversial rather than playing it safe will have been worthwhile. The game free to download for Android via Google Play and is available to play on the GameTheNews.net website as a HTML5 game and also due out on iPhone, iPad and iPad Touch imminently. Full details can be found at http://bit.ly/endgamesyria.
The project was created using GameMaker Studio development technology. Game the News is supported by the University of Abertay Dundee’s Prototype Fund with additional help from the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol.
We also launched with an article on GamesIndustry.biz looking at games, war and news:
By making Endgame Syria I hope that we’ve encouraged some people who didn’t know much about the situation in Syria, to find out more. After all, the chances are your taxes are going into this war in one form or another. We also hope that we’ve joined the ranks of other games that have been unafraid to take on serious subjects and cover them with sensitivity. If either of these are the case, then the risk of making something controversial rather than playing it safe and making games about shooting Nazis or grumpy avians will have been worthwhile.
Endgame Syria Screenshot
Our Creative Director, Tomas has been looking at reactions to the game over on his blog. We’ve also been getting coverage of the launch online:
Endgame: Syria is a neat little game that does not deserve being shackled to a small window in the browser. The game oozes quite some quality and is actually fun to play. Players familiar with card games like Magic: The Gathering should have no problems playing this game as the rules are very much simpler here.
The subject matter for Endgame: Syria should not however be looked on from a trivialized angle; people and civilian casualties are dying everyday over in Syria. Hopefully with this unique gamification approach, it will make more people aware of what is happening today in the beleaguered country of Syria.
The iOS version of the game was rejected by Apple, which generated a lot of press interest in the project: