Recruitment Underway for Inaugural Ocean Video Game Jam in February 2024
Recruitment is officially underway for the national video game design competition hosted by Dr. A.R. Siders at the University of Delaware.
All competitors must be enrolled in a part-time or full-time two- or four-year college undergraduate or graduate program in the United States. Non-students can submit games but are not eligible for prizes. No video game design experience is required, and participants may enter as a team or individually. Students with a background in video game development, visual arts, or climate or marine science are encouraged to participate.
The themes of this year’s competition are climate change, oceans, and women leaders.
Whether submitted projects portray how oceans are affected by climate change or have content featuring female scientists, judges are looking for creativity and surprising perspectives. Participants are encouraged to consider how gender influences the way people interact with and are affected by the world, oceans, and climate change.
Cash prizes up to $1,000 will be awarded to the top entries in three categories – science communication, women leaders, and creativity – and honorable mentions for standout games in other areas.
- Science Communication: Games in this category will convey climate change or ocean-related science to a public audience in accurate, engaging, and understandable ways. We particularly want to challenge you to think about the goal of the climate content in your game: for example, is your goal to raise awareness of climate in general, educate about a particular issue, highlight solutions, build community, imbue empathy, and illustrate a range of futures?
- Creativity: Games in this category will challenge norms or conceptions, take a new spin on an old idea, or demonstrate aesthetic creativity or creativity in their game design. Games may demonstrate particular technical skills in game development, art, and music.
- Women Leadership: Games in this category will advance women as leaders – in life, science, or game design – and demonstrate thoughtful consideration of gender representation and inclusion.
Additionally, the top games in each category will be made available for the public to play at the University of Delaware e-sports arena. They will also be hosted online and used in teaching demos over the next year. Developers retain all rights and will be credited for any use of their games.
Game Jam Schedule
The video game jam will kick off on Thursday, February 1. A series of optional pre-jam webinars related to the themes will be held for those wanting to know more about game design, ocean science, or women and representation in games. Competitors will have a little more than two weeks to design and submit a game on the Jam’s itch.io site by Sunday, February 18th. Winners will be announced at an in-person festival on Friday, March 8 at the University of Delaware’s eSports Arena. Participants are encouraged to attend the events, but attendance is not required.
Calendar of Events
- January 23-28: Webinar #1 (Game Design & Game Jam 101: An Introduction for New Designers and Tips for Experienced Jammers)
- January 30: Webinar #2 (Ocean Science Inspiration – Ask a Marine Scientist)
- February 1: The video game jam opens. Teams may continue to join throughout the course of the event.
- February 1-18: Resources, videos, and tips on environmental game design and science communication are shared on Discord server
- February 18: The jam closes. Judges score game submissions and provide feedback.
- March 8: Winners are announced at the end-of-event celebration. As part of the University of Delaware Geek Week, there will be opportunities for networking, open game play, food, and presentations.
This event is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Kaleta A. Doolin Foundation Ocean Decade Champions program, Mangone Climate Change Hub, UD College of Arts and Sciences and College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, Delaware eSports, and Delaware SeaGrant.