Spanning September 12-13, 60 participants across 16 teams came together for Tasmania’s first-ever statewide game jam: Tasjam. The themes of the jam were “Voices,” and “Access,” which were designed to evoke discussions and thinking about diversity, and the importance of having a voice and being heard, no matter who you are or where you’re from.
Tasjam was organised as a joint venture between the Tasmanian Game Development Society, and Startup Tasmania, as part of the Startup Spring festival. With venues in both Hobart, Launceston, and a satellite venue in Burnie, the event was truly statewide, and included participants of a wide variety of ages and skill levels. The event was featured in both the Mercury and Examiner print newspapers, and also on the ABC Drive program in both Northern Tasmania, and Hobart.
Tasjam was a huge success, honestly at this stage I’m still completely overwhelmed with just how well it went, how great our attendees all were, and the quality of the games that were produced! In fact, all of the Tasjam games are available to play over at the jam submission page hosted by itch.io.
Events in Hobart, Launceston, and Burnie went off without a hitch, which is pretty exciting for us, given that this is the first time that we’ve run a game jam. We had 60 participants across 16 teams, and a large number of observers dropping by in both Hobart and Launceston just to see what it was all about. This included Minister Michael Ferguson, who went on to speak of highly of the event, and the full Startup Spring festival, during standing parliament. Thanks for your support, Minister Ferguson!
I think my favourite thing about the event was the inclusion of the Hobart CoderDojo team, helmed by John Dalton and Ruth Howard. Ruth and John project managed a team of 8-12 year olds to produce Quest for the Lost Voices, a game about a world held together by music, which has since fractured. The player is tasked with gathering musical notes and finding the last recorded music in existence, and using them to return power to the machine that can make the world whole again.
The CoderDojo kids, Oliver Dalton, Sebastian Dalton, Harry Howard, Gypsy Polacheck, and Leo Wang worked tirelessly throughout the weekend, and eventually produced a game using Scratch which included a cutscene, voice acting, and a beautiful hand-crafted aesthetic.
All of our attendees were amazing, and have produced some truly impressive games for a total of 32 hours of effort. It was fantastic to have Secret Lab in attendance, both for their experience, and the fact that they immediately disqualified themselves for choosing to spend the jam working on a game that not only didn’t meet the jam theme, but also had been in production in the days previous. It’s great that they decided to come along to soak up the atmosphere, and provide help over the weekend. Thanks Paris and Jon!
The Giant Margarita team were on site, and despite having their game idea crippled by a technical problem, forged ahead and produced a game that found a new angle on the theme.
I’m really in love with the concept behind Josh Bush‘s submission, Voices of the Past. The idea of concentrating on an elderly person’s fragmented memories, and the fact that often the elderly feel that their voices aren’t really heard in the wider community is a beautiful treatment of the themes of the jam.
Many lessons were learned, and even teams that didn’t reach their self-directed goals have said that they felt really positive about what they were able to achieve, and the new relationships they’ve formed with people of a similar mindset. It’s late and I’m tired, so I won’t continue to go through the submissions from our other teams. Suffice it to say, though, I’m ever thankful for the efforts and attendance of all of our participants for helping to make the inaugural Tasjam such a massive success.
We’ve had numerous people asking when the next Tasjam will happen, and all I can say at this stage is that this thing was far too excellent to leave idle for long. Stay tuned!
I would like to thank our amazing judges and mentors, Kamina Vincent (Tin Man Games), Katie Gall, and Lauren Clinnick (Both from Lumi Consulting) for making the trip down to Hobart from Melbourne to be with us. I believe their attendance and the role they filled is something that makes Tasjam unique, with many teams praising them for their constructive input on design and mechanic choice.
I would also like to thank our volunteers, and my co-organisers Eloise Macdonald-Meyer and James Riggall for their efforts to bring Tasjam to fruition. Their endless wells of enthusiasm and energy are an inspiration, and I very much look forward to working with them on future projects in Tasmania and more broadly!
Tasjam wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our generous sponsors!
- The Australian Computer Society
- The Tasmanian State Government
- Startup Tasmania
- Surprise Attack
- PAX Australia
- Lumi Consulting
- Tin Man Games
- Mighty Games
- The Typewriter Factory
- The Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery