2020 Games for Our Future/IndieCade Climate Jam Recap

From games about bats facing habitat destruction, climate revolutions, wildfire management, and finicky fornicating pandas on the mission to ensure the survival of their species — the 2020 Games for Our Future (GFOF) Game Jam had it all. This year’s event in collaboration with IndieCade, allowed game jammers from across the country (and planet!) to create games focused on the theme of ‘Community, Nature, and Resilience in the Face of Global Crises’, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. The event from April 17th – 23rd drew over 150 game jammers who submitted a total of 49 diverse games, all centered around pressing environmental issues, in just 5 short days. 

This was the 3rd Annual GFOF Game Jam, and despite last minute adjustments due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, shifting the event online allowed for many slightly unexpected benefits. The Game Jam had research mentors and speakers virtually participate from across the world, including keynote speaker, Dr. Elizabeth LaPensée, Assistant Professor at Michigan State University, and award-winning writer, artist, and Indigenous game designer. 

Dr. LaPensée provided an insightful talk centered around Indigenous ways of knowing, and how we can better address our collective actions for the future. In her talk, Dr. LaPensée described how despite the climate crisis we are all living in, “There is hope. How, then, can we look to those who came before us to help inform our actions right now with hope for the future?”. Through her own involvement in developing games, Dr. LaPensée explains her experience witnessing a rapidly changing climate, and the Indigenous ideology carried throughout the games she creates, such as reciprocity, balance, and traditional ecological knowledge, while retaining optimism for the future. 

Dr. LaPensée’s keynote presentation is available to watch here, along with all of the other great research mentor talks, discussing matters such as the intersection of queergaming and the environment, building emotional connections with the non-human world, and much more. 

With the inspiration and guidance from the event’s research mentors, both beginners and long-time game jammers were able to create a wide variety of games in a fast paced, yet positive, encouraging, and accepting environment. Game jammers across the world produced a GFOF Game Jam record of 49 total submissions, in a broad range of genres including adventure, simulation, strategy games, and more! 

Check out and play the submissions here!

Below are all of the award winners of the Game Jam: 

Additionally, none of this would have been possible without all of the community members involved with GFOF, the IndieCade team, and the dedication of our research mentors: 

  • Dr. Elizabeth LaPensée, Michigan State University
  • Dr. Jennifer Atkinson, University of Washington
  • Dr. Sara Jo Breslow, University of Washington
  • Dr. Elizabeth Chang, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Dr. Edmond Chang, Ohio University
  • Crispin Freeman, anime and video game voice actor
  • Dr. Dargan Frierson, University of Washington
  • Dr. Elif Sürer, Middle East Technical University
  • Graham Zimmerman, alpinist, filmmaker, and climate activist

As well as the event’s other sponsors including: 

Niantic, Riot Forge, Global Game Jam, Seattle Indies, AIE, Indie Game Collective, IGDA Victoria, The University of Texas, and Pacific Science Center