The MIT Game Lab QUILTBAG Jam! on Saturday, April 6th

Last April, the GAMBIT Lab hosted our first ever “Gayme Jam,” bringing together local designers, artists, and interested people in a one-day event to create games with LGBTQ themes. The event was a ton of fun, and one of the games produced that day – Lesbian Cat Wars – made an appearance at the 2012 Boston Festival of Indie Games.

This year, we’re happy to keep this tradition rolling, but as the lab has undergone some changes, so too has the jam. So, without further ado, I am proud to announce the rebirth of the Gayme Jam as:

The MIT Game Lab QUILTBAG Jam!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wait, what’s a game jam?
For those who don’t know, a game jam is an event – usually 1-2 days – where people come together to make games, often on a theme or central idea. At the recent Global Game Jam, the theme was “the human heartbeat.” If you’re a Twitter fan you might know the Peter Molydeux parody account; some fans held a jam where the theme was to create games based on the Molydeux tweets.

Um, I don’t know how to sew. Also how do you make games about quilting?
Your homework is to parse out what the various words in the QUILTBAG acronym are. I’ll even give you a hint: “qu” go together in one word.

Okay. I did my homework, so: the theme is queer stuff? Why do this, anyway?
Kinda! Part of the purpose of this jam is to encourage creating games with queer themes. However, this year we also have a specific theme for the games: “Gay Planet.” If you’re interested in more about the theme, consider playing Anna Anthropy’s Twine game Hunt for the Gay Planet.

As for the “why?”: we think games are pretty great. More than that, we think games have the potential to share ideas in new and interesting ways. For many queer people, creating games that reflect their experiences is a way for them to tell their own story in a way that really pulls people in and makes them part of it. Plus: you’re freakin’ MAKING GAMES. How awesome is THAT?

Photos from last year’s Gayme Jam

Do I need to identify as queer to participate? Who’s going to be there? Definitely not. Open-minded and interested parties of all kinds, persuasions, and identities are welcome.

christine_laptopAs for who’s coming? EVERYONE. That’s right. EVERYONE. Included in ‘everyone’ is Christine Love, world-famous visual novel and game designer. Christine’s games have cleverly dealt with queer themes and ideas, and her most recent work – Analogue: A Hate Story – was a finalist at Indiecade 2012. She’ll be on hand as a special guest jammer for the event. FOR REALSIES. Super exciting!

Right. Uh, I can’t draw or program or compose music. I’m not sure I should come.
Don’t be silly! All you need to participate is enthusiasm and/or interest. Part of making games – a really important first step – is prototyping and brainstorming, and all you need to do that is ideas.

Awesome. But… I can’t make it to Boston.
Not a problem. Get some people together where you are and make a game there! Naturally you’ll have to provide your own materials, but we’ll be providing space online for people to upload games they make as part of the jam to share with the world. Also, like most MIT Game Lab events, the jam will be livestreamed so you can watch what’s going on here as well. If you’re interested in participating from afar, email me at tlharper@mit.edu and we’ll help you arrange things!

Okay, so wh… actually you’ve cleverly covered all the reasons why I can’t go. D:
That’s right. Now you have to come. Mwahaha!

Will… will participating make me queer? D:
Only if you pass the entrance exam at the end of the event.

What diabolical minds are behind this amazing event?
Zoe Quinn works toward making game development more accessible to anyone who wants to do it, regardless of background. She’s an experienced game designer whose credits include the recent and critically-acclaimed Depression Quest. Zoe is also one of the minds behind Toronto’s Dames Making Games initiative, which seeks to empower women to explore game design in a safe and supportive space.

Todd Harper is a researcher at the MIT Game Lab who specializes in queer representation in games and e-sports and competitive communities. He is the product owner of two Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab games: A Closed World and Fugue.

Sign up for the QUILTBAG Jam!

As Studio Manager for the MIT Game Lab, Rik Eberhardt spends his days playing Tetris: with people, boxes, tasklists, equipment, and time. When not staring at a spreadsheet trying to fit in another computer purchase, a last minute event budget, or placing undergraduate researchers on a Game Lab project, he's chipping away at spreadsheets on his DS, reproducing pixel-art in Picross and Picross 3D. His favorite moments on the job are working on projects with student workers and having fun social interactions forced on him despite his busy schedule. Contact him about research projects at the MIT Game Lab at gamelab-request@mit.edu

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