Just a few weeks ago, eleven game developers from China, Sweden and Denmark met in Viborg, Denmark, to participate in a week-long game jam. The game jam yielded not only cultural understanding but also two games and plans of future cooperation.
Adonis Flokiou is a happy man. The leader of Arsenalet Game Incubation has just finished another successful game jam – although this one has been special in more ways than one.
Where normal game jams last around 48 hours, this one lasted an entire week. But perhaps the biggest deviation from “normal” came in form of the eleven participants who represented three different countries: China, Sweden and Denmark.
“I’m surprised by how well it went,” exclaims Adonis and adds “very pleasantly surprised.”
Because despite jetlag, some language barriers and Danish cuisine not agreeing with Chinese stomachs, the participants not only produced two games but also worked so well together that they will continue the production of said games from each their side of the pond.
All the participants work professionally with games as programmers or artists and a narrative design student from the University of Skövde supplemented them. Where the Scandinavian participants came from Arsenalet Game Incubation and Game Hub Denmark, the Chinese participants were all part of indienova’s network.
Games that resonate across borders
The game jam started as a mere idea to explore the Chinese game industry and figure out if Chinese and Scandinavian game developers could work together but gained further traction when delegates from Game Hub Scandinavia traveled to Shanghai and Beijing for the second time this year.
Here they met with indienova – an indie game ecosystem that specifically focuses on creating a bridge between China and the rest of the world. The Beijing-based company was quick to jump aboard and thus the “Game Hub Jam 2017” was born.
With the arrival of the Chinese partner, the jam transformed from a fuzzy thought to a unique meeting between different cultures and a goal to create a product, which resonates across borders in both markets.
indienova’s Head of Marketing, Qiao, explains why they were interested in collaborating with Game Hub Scandinavia:
“First of all, we like novel and interesting games and your games are definitely our type. We admire your incubation environments because they are quite effective and lead to great results.”
Effective is certainly a word that can be used about game jams in general and this one was no exception as the teams produced one fully playable game and one prototype.
An adventure into madness
“It’s awesome to work with foreign teammates,” Su Jiang, a game artist and one of the Chinese participants, exclaims when asked about his experience in Denmark.
Su Jiang was part of the team that created “Bites”: an interactive novel about a crow that lands on roofs in Hong Kong and observes the inhabitants.
While the game is only a prototype, the representative for indienova, Allen, was so enthused by the product that he wants to publish it on indienova’s own platform when it is finished.
Su Jiang and the rest of his teammates will continue their cooperation, and the Chinese artist agrees that it is not an idea they would have come up with on their own:
“I think the art of the game and the type of game is not common in the Chinese game market.”
In the other game, “Cathulu – Adventures in Madness”, you lead a team of cats through the maddening halls of Semeowkhet’s summer residence. The game is fully playable and can be downloaded here.
As with “Bites”, the concept of this game also inspired learning about each other’s cultures.
“I didn’t know Cthulhu at all. I would have made a puzzle-platformer instead if I hadn’t been part of the cross-cultural team,” says Feng Pan, programmer and artist from CCTV and indienova.
With one cross-territorial game jam under their belt, Game Hub Scandinavia and indienova are keen to arrange another – this time in China.
Whether the goal of creating games, which can be successful in China as well as Scandinavia, will be fulfilled remains to be seen. But the happy co-hosts, Allen and Adonis, are hopeful:
“With everything we’ve learned from this game jam, we believe that the next one will be even better!”