Heritage Game Jam 2020
From 31 July to 7 August, 150 participants came together to design and develop 29 games in the first-ever Heritage Game Jam (HGJ). Organised by The Sagakaya team, comprising Gwen Guo, Jedidiah Siah and Jewell Koh, Heritage Game Jam 2020 was a week-long competition where teams designed digital games around the theme, “Heritage”. The event aims to promote the usage of the medium of Games to talk about and feature Singapore heritage: past, present, and future, reflecting also on the “Singaporean Identity”.
Another aim of HGJ is to promote collaboration between the games industry and other industries. Participants are encouraged to be exposed to other disciplines than their own, and allow a greater exchange of ideas across them. HGJ 2020 participants came from various backgrounds: aspiring game design students, industry professionals, as well as those outside the industry - civil servants, story writers and even a political scientist.
Participants were sorted into teams based on their skill sets, such that each team had sufficient complementary technical skills to design a digital game. During sign-ups, participants listed skills that they would be utilising most during the game jam. The communication platform, Discord, allowed participants between teams whenever the need arose.
Winners of HGJ2020 were awarded prizes that totalled $3000 in value.
Due to COVID-19 safety guidelines, HGJ2020 was held entirely online. The communication platform, Discord, was used to simulate the conversation spaces of an in-person event. Each team was given their own voice channels and rooms to post and share their progress updates, as well as a public channel to interact with other participants and ask for advice. Participants were free to join channels of other teams to listen in and contribute to the discussion - fostering the community-vibe where competing teams helped each other during the course of the Game Jam. HGJ 2020 also featured a diverse group of advisors who guided participants in their game development process. Advisors comprised professionals from the arts and game industries, as well as active lecturers from Game Design schools. Advisors were also welcome to enter the team channels on Discord to check-in on them and to help solve any problems that they were facing. A networking event was also held on the first day of HGJ2020. The event was facilitated by Prout, an organisation that runs a platform to connect members of the LGBTQIA+ community with queer-run and queer-inclusive events and resources. Prout is also well-known for their trivia events, which the HGJ2020 networking event was modeled after. The networking event aimed to help participants to get to know each other better, as well as prime them for the “Heritage” theme of the Game Jam. Participants played a trivia session that challenged their knowledge of Singapore heritage. The Sagakaya team is currently in the midst of planning a virtual exhibition which would host not only the winning games of HGJ2020, but also feature the artistic qualities of Games made locally in Singapore. This exhibition would also include other officially released games made by local developers. The exhibition is expected to be held in mid-2021. Siah shared in the opening event, “...Games are essential. They can help make complex but important topics, such as the Singaporean identity,more approachable, and engage players in a meaningful way. By doing so, it gives us, as players, opportunities to critically reflect on what our relationship with Singapore should be.”
The Sagakaya team hopes that the Heritage Game Jam will “encourage the development of more games that can inspire others to keep these conversations going.”
Heritage Game Jam 2020 was supported by Singapore Games Association (SGGA) and Prout, sponsored by AlterCulture Studios, Difference Engine, DigiPen (Singapore Institute of Technology), Domino’s Pizza, Facebook Gaming, and Unity.
Games from HGJ2020 can be viewed, downloaded, and played at www.heritagegamejam.com.