— Meaningful Gameplay

The second Meaningful Gameplay Game Jam will be happening May 25th – 27th. The jam will be held in Des Moines, IA, through the Iowa Game-Dev Friendship club, and in Pittsburgh, PA, through Mindful XP at Carnegie Mellon. Remote participation is also welcome!

More details to come soon.

For more information about the idea behind it, go here: http://www.godatplay.com/2011/07/a-meaningful-gameplay-game-jam/

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The "goaterpillar" is about to eat blocky strawberries

Hunger is a game prototype created by Dusty Peterson and Ryan Hoffman in the span of about 16 hours. The idea of this project is to try and communicate the idea of hunger through gameplay, and do so without text or gauges. It’s not a political statement about starvation or world hunger, we just wanted to recreate that feeling that everyone gets a few times a day.

While the subject itself is very simple, it actually turns out to be pretty difficult pull off. Video games are great for sound and visuals, but we can’t really give people a physical sensation. We decided to work around this by attempting to recreate symptoms of hunger through an avatar which the player feels empathy towards.

Download Hunger Here (Windows only)

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Learning To Fly screenshot

Note: The art in the game is from StencylForge because I didn’t have enough time to add Daniel Xiao’s excellent art. His feedback throughout development helped make the prototypes better than they could have been.

Learning to Fly Prototype #1
Learning to Fly Prototype #2

“I wished to say to men, ‘If you desire to continue freely in your creative work, it will be necessary for you to enter the struggle and conquer the forces of darkness that are about to invade the world.’” –Jacques Lipchitz, on his sculpture Prometheus Strangling the Vulture II

“Learning to Fly” puts you in the role of a bird struggling to fly as high as possible. It’s also a game about how I’ve felt in my first year as a full-time indie game developer. My overall goals for the project were to convey the following ideas through game mechanics:

  • that you should celebrate your accomplishments and progress
  • that you should avoid comparing yourself to others
  • that you should enjoy the journey instead of doing things for external rewards
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“To change with change is to remain in the changeless state.” ~ Bruce Lee


Download the Prototype(Windows Only) : Here

Requires : OpenAL & DirectX 9

In the zip file is a 3rd party folder. This contains Visual Studio 10 run time files. If you don’t have VS 10 on your system, you will need to install either the 32 bit or 64 bit depending upon your os.

It doesn’t have sound but the engine requires OpenAL.

When looking at ideas for what to explore at this jam. I kept coming back to things like commitment, drive, tenacity. As I thought more on it, I began asking myself what do these things have in common? To me the big thing is that they are all components to achieve something, specifically for me, these things relate to my goals as a game developer of being able to operate my own studio. But why are these things important and why is there such an urgency from these things? The answer, impermanence. Impermanence could be looked at simply as change. We are all impermanent, we will live for any undermentioned amount of time, and we will die, at least at this point, all of us. Now what death is and what actually happens there is another topic entirely. But what can be said is that for any of us, dealing with impermanence is something that we must all endure.

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Free Will vs. Predestination

Molinism’s Middle Knowledge is a puzzle/god game prototype that is intended as a small part of a larger game about the debate regarding whether free will or predestination is a true description of humanity’s relationship with the Judeo-Christian God. This prototype explores the concept of “middle knowledge” defended by a philosophical & theological concept referred to as Molinism that attempts to support both sides at once.

Analysis after the jump…SPOILER ALERT :P

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The first Meaningful Gameplay Game Jam has ended, so here’s an overview of what happened, starting with what people will be most curious about: the games (in the order they were shown).

Meaningful Gameplay Game Jam #1 Games

Giga WifeGiga Wife
Ryan Green & Keith Riddle

A “virtual pet”-style simulation game that explores how Ryan isn’t the romantic husband he thought he was.

Learning to FlyLearning to Fly

Two prototypes (#1 here, #2 here) of a flying game that explores Gianfranco’s frustration with taking so long to finish his first game as a full-time indie game developer.

Free Will vs. PredestinationFree Will vs. Predestination
God at play

A puzzle/god game prototype that explores the concept of “middle knowledge” defended by Molinism in the debate regarding free will vs. predestination.

Hunger gameHunger
Ryan Hoffman & Dusty Peterson

A hunting prototype that explores what hunger feels like.

Relic gameRelic
Will Canada & Nick Silhacek

An exploration prototype that explores how impermanence affects gameplay.

Post-Mortem after the jump…

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The Physical Location

418 6th Ave, Ste 1210
Des Moines, IA 50309


BitMethod is on the 12th floor of the Liberty Building, accessed through a door facing East that’s between a Hyatt Place and Gym F/X at the corner. Go in the door, take the elevator up to the 12th floor, and walk away from the glass doors to the NW corner. The doors to the building lock after 6pm on Friday, so there will be a phone number(s) printed on a sheet of paper on the door that you can call to be let in. So bring your cell phone or leave a comment to arrange getting in.

Online Location

UStream: http://ustream.tv/channel/meaningful-gameplay

The UStream channel will act as a live feed of the event.

Google Hangout (requires a Google Plus account): https://talkgadget.google.com/hangouts/690ab51fdc1b4b661c515f6c4228999fce4f0caa#

The Hangout will act as a group video chat. NOTE: This link is subject to change once we actually get it up! Check back in on this site tomorrow afternoon to make sure this is the correct URL.

The Schedule

Friday, 5:30pm – 8:30pm

Mingling, team forming, food runs

Friday, 8:30pm – 9:00pm

“Opening ceremony”

Friday, 9:00pm – Sunday, 10:00am

Game jam

Sunday, 10:00am – Sunday, 2:00pm

Analysis, writing, blogging – game critics welcome!

Sunday, 2:00pm – Sunday, 5:00pm

Show & tell – general public welcome!

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Several people who are interested in participating in the Meaningful Gameplay Game Jam are asking for more information. A few of them aren’t even sure how a game jam works, so that is the first order of business.


What is a Game Jam

A game jam is an event where game developers get together to hang out and make games. This usually takes place over the course of a weekend, starting Friday evening and ending Sunday evening. A game jam is usually centered around a single theme or concept that participants should make their games about – in our case “gameplay that is significant for or provides purpose for how one lives life.”

GGJ 2010 CF 6

A jam usually starts with a sort of social hour, followed by brainstorming game ideas and breaking off into teams to make the games. Recently, we’ve been trying to end a jam Sunday afternoon with a show & tell so everyone can see what was created.

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Meaningful Gameplay Game Jam 1 Poster

The first game jam has been organized for August 12-14, thanks to the openness of a club called Iowa Game-Dev Friendship. The goal of this game jam is to explore meaningful gameplay through developing several prototypes of a mechanic or other game element and then critically analyze the prototypes and share the result.

In addition to being hosted on-site at BitMethod in Des Moines, Iowa, USA; it will also be hosted online. I’m still working out the details, but it will most likely involve setting up a UStream and/or video conference. Will Canada has a post about the game jam on his site, too. Spread the word!


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