Yum Me

Jealous Gods

Mass Salvation

Cooking Mama

Gore Girlz

Love Child

Domestic Demons

Crazy Bird

Dodge or Die

Dark Room XX

Social in the Elevator

Lonely Bird

Drunken Bums / Alcoholics

Super Best Vacation


Taboo Tiles




Nordic Game Jam 2008

Taboo is a our game!

19 Games, 150 participants
Without taking too many chances, I think it is now safe to assume that we are the biggest game jam in the world.
This number is nearly twice as many as last years, which again had twice as many participants as the year before.


Last year we had a very mechanical theme, with five constraints. This year we tried something else, which was a combination of abstract theme  and some mechanical constraints.e

The main theme was based the concept of Taboo. Whatever the participants took from that was up to themselves. However the event was launched with the following words from Miguel Sicart:

"The NGJ is not looking for the most provocative game, but for the most interesting game that tackles the topic of taboo. We are appealing here to creativity, not to cheap provocation. As it has already been pointed out, think satire, but not insults.

Taboo is an interesting topic because taboos are what we cannot see, what we cannot say, what we cannot do, and games are everything about what we can see, say, and do. Exploring that tension with computer games is the creative goal of the NGJ.
Again, we are not looking for cheap provocation, but for thoughtful, entertaining games that explore taboos in a mature, creative way."

besides the topic of taboo, their was also 3 mechanical constraints that the games had to adhere to. The game had to:
  • Have a game loop (winnable, with a high score)
  • Be playable with a controller
  • Be multiplayer - either with NPCs or humans
Just like last year, the game jam had 2 prize categorizes.

Panel Prize
This year we had a panel consisting of 4 persons:

  • Stephaníe Munck, Programmer Deadline Games
  • Erik Robertson, Nordic Game Program
  • Troels Linde, Senior Lecturer in Production, Department of Game Design, Narrative and Time-Based Media, University of Gotland
  • Alessandro Canossa, ph.d. student, Danmarks Designskole/IO Interactive

Based on the following criteria, they picked Love Child as the winner:

The role of the panel in the Nordic Game Jam is to give a prize to the most innovative project, yet still taking into consideration how playable and engaging the game is. The goal of the panel is to give a prize to that game that, while being playable and interesting, also pushes the boundaries of gameplay expression and game design and technology. The panel should reward daring ideas that to some extent are practically implemented.
In short, these are some questions that could act as guidelines for the panel’s role:

- Is the game playable? (a good concept that is not playable at some state should not be awarded)
- Is the game engaging? (a good concept that is not engaging as a computer game should not be rewarded)
- Are the goals of the game clear?
- Are the game mechanics innovative?
- Is the programming innovative?
- Is the artistic vision innovative?
- Have we seen this gameplay before? (if the game is just a “sharp” clone, it should not be awarded)
- Does the game contribute to computer games as entertainment? (if the game does not think about entertainment in original and innovative ways, it should not be awarded)
- Does the game have artistic merits as computer game? (provided you understand games as somewhat a technological work of art, does the game contribute to expanding what we understand as the art of videogames, from a technical, aesthetical and design perspective?)
- What is the experimental potential of the game? (rather than the pure economic potential).

The goal of the NGJ is to free developers to create the wild ideas that could never be funded. The goal of the panel is to recognize those innovative ideas and award them beyond their merits from a commercial standpoint.

People's Prize
The coveted People's Prize is decided by voting. Only participants can vote. This year the prize was won by Segregation.

Award Ceremony

Special Guest - One Laptop Pr Child Foundation
This year we had some special guests from the OLPC Foundation. This also made it possible for the participants to choose to develop for the OLPC. As an added note, ITU was granted one machine by the foundation, so that students there now can develop for it.

Day by Day

Day 1 - Arrival
Day 1 had 3 essential parts, talks & registration, group forming and brain storming.
The first part was a series of talks that people could attend, while also signing for the events.

Talks and Registration
The program on the friday afternoon was as follows. As you can we had some special guest stars, including Jonathan Blow.

14.00-19.00: Check in (Luggage and tech gear can be stoved in a locked room all afternoon)

Tech talks
14.00: XNA tutorial by Morten Pedersen, Microsoft Student Partner - Games
15.15: Unity tutorial by David Helgason, OTEE
16.30: OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) tutorial by Jesper Taxbøl

Art talks
14.00: Development process and character design by Katherine Isbister
15.15: Adaptive Sound Design by Torsten Kjær Sørensen, Lead Sound Programmer IOI.
16.30: Taboo... or Not Taboo - Thematical Food for Thought by Andreas Lieberoth , Uni S.

17.45: Keynote: Balance == Death (and other thoughts on design) by Jonathan Blow

Group Forming
After the keynote, everyone gathered in the big auditorium for a welcome. And then the group forming could begin. The group forming consisted of 3 steps:
  • Social, get to know each other exercises
  • Pitches
  • Group Forming
Just like the previous last 2 years, Henriette repeated her exercises from last year. The exercises are really good for getting people to mingle up and relax. This year we were so many people, that this had to be done in the atrium of ITU.
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After the social exercise, people were put into groups of around 3 people. Each group then had 20 minutes to come up with at least 1 game pitch each. After this, the pitches were presented in the big auditorium. Each presenter had at most 30 seconds to pitch the idea.
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After all ideas had been pitches, the group forming could begin. The group forming was one big auction house, with only 2 rules; no one could leave the room untill everyone was in a group and groups had to have a broad enough representation of skills to make sense.
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When the group forming ended around 10 PM friday evening, we had 19 groups. Most groups started work on their idea immediately.

Day 2 - Work harder, damnit! Work harder!
Saturday is always the very hardest day. Please start early and work very late into the night.
Besides the good mood, one thing that characterizes the Nordic Game Jam is the amazing food. We provide breakfast, lunch and dinner for the participants on saturday and sunday. Not your average conference junk, but really good food.

After the breakfast, each group do a really quick presentation in front of everyone else. After that, everyone continue their hard work. The complete saturday program was as follows:

9-10: Breakfast.
10-11: Status: Presentation of ideas feed back by other groups on the basic concept.
13-14: Working Lunch.
19-20: Dinner.

Day 3 - Symbiosis and Release
Deadline for handing in the games was sunday afternoon at 3 PM. This day is really exciting, and you can see how the look of desperation increase on peoples' face as they struggle to make the deadline.

After the deadline, the panel and the particants had 90 minutes to try the games, before the presentations would start.
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After this, the presentations would begin. With 19 presentations, and each presentation taking around 10 minutes, approx 3 hours of intense and exciting talks awaited.
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After the presentations, there was 15 minutes for voting, after which the winners were announced.
After a big applause for everyone, it was game over, and the hardcore continued the party in the bar!

Next Year
The game jam will definitely be held again next year. I think we proved that even though the has grown to 130+ people, it is still possible to keep a friendly and intimite atmosphere.

However, with so many people, we also learned a few lessons again this year:
  • The group forming was a little disfunctional with so many people. We will do something about this next year.
  • The Nordic Game Jam seem to have become an institution, which causes people to become more competitive and more prepared. Some people seem to come with a lot of work already done. Perhaps this can be remedied with more than track next year.
  • Too much paper. Everything will be done electronically next year, but we will also be a bit more harsh on people fulfilling the submission guidelines. 
  • The helping crew was swarmed in work. Things need to be professionalized for next year.
If you have any constructive criticism, negative or positive, please don't hesitate to contact the organizers.

See you in 2009!

Please don't hesitate to contact Gorm (3 Lives Left & IGDA) and Miguel (ITU & IGDA) if you have any questions or comments.

Previous Years
The homepage for Nordic Game Jam 2007
The homepage for Nordic Game Jam 2006

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