Tag Archives: game jam

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:

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)

Puns and prototypes: behind-the-scenes at ‘Gamify your PhD’

There is a post on the Wellcome Trust blog that has some thoughts on the Gamify Your PhD session, images and also – most importantly – links to all of the games!

“Addictive, challenging and educational,” that was the remit for the 6 teams taking part in this week’s‘Gamify you PhD’ event at the Wellcome Trust. The two-day hack event brought together PhD researchers and games developers from across the UK for what Wellcome Trust’s Daniel Glaser called an “innovative interaction”. The aim? To create new games that could explore and explain the latest developments in biomedicine, and more specifically the PhD research of the scientists taking part.

Tomas Rawlings, gaming consultant for the Wellcome Trust, explained the rationale behind the initiative, saying, “Science and games are a natural fit: both are about the participant seeking to understand the rules that govern the world they find themselves in and achieving this by experiments such as trial and error.”

Front screen of Monsieur Baguette – Click for more!

Game Accessibility: Gaming For Everyone

There is a growing awareness that we need to make the games we create more accessible   As such a number of people have been pushing the issue:

With gaming becoming a more popular and pervasive form of entertainment, accessibility issues are starting to be recognised and tackled by the professional game development community. “There are four types of disability – visual, hearing, cognitive and motor,” says Hamilton. “By knowing and thinking about these groups upfront, game designers can easily avoid the barriers that may have prevented gamers with disabilities being able to enjoy playing.

“Even a simple thing, like choosing blue instead of green for a team colour, as Treyarch recently did with their colour-blind friendly mode for Call of Duty: Black Ops, can make your game playable by significant swathes of the population that would otherwise have had great difficulty. The red/green colourblindness that Treyarch addressed affects 8% of males, meaning they were finally able to tell their team-mates from their enemies.”

Hamilton reckons a big part of the challenge is helping developers to recognise that greater accessibility doesn’t necessarily mean masses of extra development time or resources. “Fully functioning and accessible games being produced in the space of 48 hours is a really powerful demonstration that accessibility doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult,” he says. “Also, the results are often great examples of nice simple design principles that can be applied across the industry.”

So at the Bristol event we were organising, we added a special prize for acessibility to spur the developers on; and there is more on the winner here.

Super Space Snakes in Space – an Accessible Game!

There is now an online resource about this issue for developers to help them understand accessibility:

15-20% of gamers are disabled (PopCap). Other conditions that aren’t registered disabilities can also hit barriers. 15% of the adult population have a reading age of below 11 years old (NCES / BIS), 8% of males have red-green colour deficiency (AAO), and many people have temporary impairments such as a broken arm. Many more have situational impairments such as playing in a noisy room or in bright sunlight, and all players have different levels of ability – there’s no ‘typical gamer’.

This information is now collected at the resource: gameaccessibilityguidelines.com – we have used these documents for Gamify Your PhD and will be including the information therein for all the game jams we run from now on.

All About the ‘Gamify Your PhD’ Project

Gamify Your PhD was a project conceived and produced by Auroch Digital for the Wellcome Trust.  In this project the scientists will became the game designers.  To show scientists how one might gamify science we assembled the team of MobilePie, Wired and the Wellcome Trust to create this guide to designing games (complete with mini-games):

Wired wrote a great article about the project:

The Wellcome Trust has launched an initiative — called Gamify Your PhD — to bring together researchers with developers in order to create games that explore the latest developments in biomedicine.

Researchers are invited to send their ideas about how their PhD research could be illustrated through a game. In order to inspire them, Mobile Pie (with the advice of Wired.co.uk editor Nate Lanxon) has created an interactive embeddable guide to basic gaming mechanics, featuring 16-bit minigames. These include a Darwin-inspired survival-of-the-fittest pigeon game, a Mendel genetics puzzle game, a game based on Asch’s work on conformity and a Newton-targeting apple physics game.

Meanwhile, teams of three or four game developers are invited to apply to join a game-hack in London in September in order to bring the researchers’ ideas to life. Each team must have all the necessary skills to create a prototype game in two days — design, code, art and audio — plus their own equipment. The best team will receive funding to develop their idea into a releasable game.

Where they quoted Auroch Digital’s Tomas Rawlings:

The initiative is the brainchild of Wellcome Trust’s gaming consultant Tomas Rawlings, who said: “Science and games are a natural fit, both are about the participant seeking to understand the rules that govern the world they find themselves within and achieving this by experiments such as trial-and-error. Gamify your PhD is an exciting twist and evolution of these areas.”

Here is the official press release:

The Wellcome Trust invites researchers to gamify their PhDs
11 July 2012: An innovative new way of communicating science research launches today with Gamify your PhD, a project from the Wellcome Trust which brings together researchers and games developers to create new games exploring and explaining the latest developments in biomedicine.The Trust is inviting researchers to share ideas for games based on their PhD work in biomedical science or the medical humanities, and small teams of games developers to turn these ideas into addictive, challenging and educational games.  Those selected will partner at a two day hack in which the games will be created.

The best of these will receive funding to develop into a releasable game.To help inspire ideas and give researchers a flavour of what’s possible a web-app http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/gamify, developed by Mobile Pie, has been commissioned, offering an interactive and fully embeddable guide to the nuts and bolts of mechanics and motivation that lie behind successful game design.  The web-app also features sample 16bit mini games to illustrate the different elements of gaming, including a Darwin inspired survival of the fittest pigeon game, a Mendel genetics puzzle game, a game based on Asch’s work on conformity, and a Newton-targeting apple game.Gamify your PhD is part of a wider commitment by the Wellcome Trust to using games and gaming culture as a means of engaging people with science.  A range of awards schemes is open to developers interested in creating innovative, entertaining and accessible games based around biomedicine and medical history.Daniel Glaser, Head of Special Projects at the Wellcome Trust said: “The engaged researcher has lots to learn from gaming and game design can benefit hugely from the latest scientific advances. That’s why the Wellcome Trust is throwing its weight behind this innovative interaction.

Today’s brightest researchers understand that science does not take place in a vacuum and the best research can engage with the most popular culture. I’m very curious to find out what these teams will come up with.”Tomas Rawlings, the Wellcome Trust’s gaming consultant said: “Science and games are a natural fit, both are about the participant seeking to understand the rules that govern the world they find themselves within and achieving this by experiments such as trial-and-error. Gamify your PhD is an exciting twist and evolution of these areas.”The deadline for applications from researchers and developers is 12 August, and the games hack will take place between the 3-4 September 2012. The resulting games will be made available online.  All details about the scheme and the web-app guide to gaming can be found at www.wellcome.ac.uk/gamify

The project’s twitter hashtag is #gamifyyourphd

So the event got lots of interest via twitter (you can see a sample here). Plus we’ve been getting some great press coverage pre-the actual jam of it including: