Tag Archives: Campo Santo

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.”

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