Category Archives: Story Roundup

We round up stories from other sources, summarize them, and create commentary in order to form a more cohesive overview of an event, group, or community.

Stories from Train Jam 2016

Strangers on a Train, Creating Video Games

Adriel Wallick, founder of the Train Jam, says, “It’s hard to not be inspired by all of the changes and beauty around you.”

Simon Parkin did an article for the New York Times about the Train Jam 2016, describing the lush landscape along the train’s route from Chicago to Emeryville, California.

Wallick also says, “I realized that a cross-country train ride would work perfectly as a game jam.”

The article quotes Susan Gold, founder of the Global Game Jam, who says of the Global Game Jam, “It is a place to fail, happily.” Of course, such a phrase could be adapted to any game jam, which is exactly why the article brings it up.

The article also goes into some detail about the history of game jams, attributing Chris Hecker as the creator of the term.

The article ends with a quote by one of the Train Jam organizers, Andrea Hasselager:

“We feel the medium misrepresents the world we live in, and needs to be less narrow in gender, stories, themes and game mechanics.”

She also adds, of the jam itself, “There’s an intense feeling of belonging to a group. Combine that with a space where you shut out the concerns of everyday life, and the adrenaline rush of working all night and day to see something come to life, and it becomes irresistible.”

Train Jam brings game designers closer on a cross-country trip to GDC

photo from Polygon
photo from Polygon

An article on Polygon by Charlie Hall went into more detail about the logistics of the jam, explaining that the lack of reliable internet led to relying on each other’s problem-solving abilities.

The name of the path that they took is the California Zephyr.

One of the more interesting revelations in Hall’s article was the relationship between the game jam participants and the other people on the train. “The jammers are all talking to the other people on the train, explaining what the event is, explaining about GDC,” says Wallick. “Regular people are just asking all these questions and getting very interested. Then they can go back and approach games again, but from a creative perspective.”

Other interesting mentions were the sponsors (which included Epic Games, Oculus VR, Intel, and Sony) as well as one jam team made up of Media Molecule employees, developers of LittleBigPlanet.

Polygon will also interview Wallick on their podcast Polygon Backstory.

Welcome to Train Jam: The ultimate game developer road trip

photo from CNET
photo by Izzy Gramp from CNET

Jason Imms takes a more Gonzo approach in his CNET story. “I’m shooting down 2,400 miles of American railroad and I’m torn.,” he says.

“What’s more impressive: The breathtaking scenery outside the California Zephyr’s windows, or Train Jam 2016, the greatest game jam experience a developer could hope for?”

Imms’s article still focuses on the game jam and its founder, Adriel Wallick. “It makes me feel very happy that I get to give this experience to people,” says Wallick. “They get to meet a bunch of people from all over the world, make new friends, have this really cool journey experience. This pilgrimage to GDC.”

The article ends with a quote by Wallick about GDC, the final destination for the trip.

“At the end they even get to show off their games at the largest game development conference in the world. It’s just such a cool opportunity for so many people. ‘Wow, I just got to show off my game at GDC, I never thought I’d be able to do that!'”

Hacking Game Boys and Sharing Whiskey on the Game Jam Journey Across America

photo by Cleapresso
photo by Cleapresso

Jason Imms did a much more detailed piece for Kill Screen in which he has a more in-depth interview with Wallick and describes some of the games being developed.


“When the real train shook and rattled it was meant to help me believe in the existence of the virtual one projected in front of my eyes. Throughout the demo, I was crouching to duck under tunnel arches, leaning left and right to avoid giraffes for some reason, and jumping over the gaps between cars.”

The article goes into more detail than the CNET article of the physical journey itself and the feeling of being involved with the game jam.

“It feels very cliché to say ‘oh it’s so inspiring to see the mountains and the fields,’” says Wallick, “but it really is!”

The article ends by discussing the game being created by a group of people from Campo Santo and some students. “Theirs was one of the most accomplished games to come from Train Jam 2016,” writes Imms, “but that isn’t really the point.”

Other Links

featured image by Jason Henry for the New York Times, believed to be used in accordance with fair use.

$18 Million for International Dota 2 Championships

The $18 million prize pool for Dota 2 (PC/MAC 2013, Des. IceFrog) was split between the 16 teams with the smallest pool of $55,133 going to the bottom four teams and the highest, $6,616,014, going to the first place winners, team Evil Geniuses. 1

Not only does this make each of the Evil Geniuses a millionaire, it’s also the largest payout of any competitive video gaming competition in history, beating out its own record for the third year in a row. In fact, the top ten highest paying video game competitions have been Dota 2, Smite (PC 2014, Des. HirezScott), and League of Legends (PC/MAC 2009, Dir. Tom “Zileas” Cadwell), all of which are derivative of Defense of the Ancients (DotA), a user-created mod for Warcraft III: Frozen Throne (PC/MAC 2002, Des. Rob Pardo). 2

The reason for such large payouts for Dota 2, a free game, are because of the game’s publisher, Valve Corporation, who owns Steam, one of the world’s largest marketplaces for PC games. Valve directly donated $1.6 million. The rest of the money came from the purchase of in-game items. Like its competitors (such as League of Legends), Dota 2 sells items that can be worn or held by its in-game characters. To date, Valve has made about $400 million from the three games they’ve developed that take micro-transactions, Dota 2, Team Fortress 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. 3

Team Evil Geniuses is composed of Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora (26, USA), Kurtis “Aui_2000” Ling (23, Canada), Clinton “Fear” Loomis (27, USA), Peter “ppd” Dager (23, USA), and Syed “Suma1L” Hassan (16, Pakistan).

Valve also broadcast The International 2015 on YouTube, and the final match can be viewed below.

featured image Copyright 2015 All Rights Reserved Valve Corporation, used in accordance with fair use