On the eve of June 1st, many developers and game enthusiasts could be seen chatting excitedly around Concordia University's EV Building. So why all the commotion?
A game jam, of course! In most game jams, participants are invited to conceptualize and develop a game idea in 48 hours, based on a given theme.
But this was no ordinary game jam - it was a Random Hacks of Kindness Game Jam where UNICEF
, and other notable organizations, collaborated with the Montreal gaming community. Beyond the usual motivations for networking, portfolio building, and just plain 'ol fun, this event was fueled by the desire to do good; every team was required to identify a social issue and design a game that addressed that issue. Among the different global problems concerned were: lack of access to potable water, homelessness, street children, and others. The teams were incredibly creative in tackling the issues with their game ideas. Here are just a few examples:
Doctor W.H.O. (Winner: Jury's Pick) - Resistor 7. A matching puzzle game where players must manage their limited resources to address the varying needs of those seeking aid (food, water, and medicine).
Hunger Run (Runner-up: Jury's Pick) - Decode Global. A 2D sidescrolling platformer where the player must flee from starvation while saving endangered children along the way.
UNICEF Build a School (Winner: Social Impact) - Team Plumpy Nuts. A Facebook management game that invites players to take on the challenges of building and managing a school in an underdeveloped area.
Quest for UNICEF (Runner-up: Social Impact) - Team Quest. A mobile game that uses GPS to invite players to participate in real world scavenger hunts and quizzes for the benefit of UNICEF.
Impossible Mission Force created their first release during the weekend, a picture puzzle game to play on your own and with friends.
Save the Worlds: Burrito Edition
(Winner: Audience Favourite) - Snail Team
. A storytelling adventure game that tells the tale of a snail on a mission to save the world(s).
Bleak Street (Runner-up: Audience Favourite) - Team Bleak. An RPG that puts players in the shoes of a homeless man in an urban area. The game challenges you to face the daily difficult decisions often experienced by those in this position.
But Concordia was not alone in its random hacking for kindness. 900 people from 14 different countries around the world were busy working towards a better world, one line of code at a time.
If you're in the Montreal area and are interested in seeing live demos of these games for social change, make sure to check out the July meetup of the Mont Royal Game Society