What is this thing? Well, IndieCade organized a game jam in honor of Earth Day. It was to be a five-day, intensive, world-wide, game development festival, in which several dozen small teams each made a small game addressing some issue related to climate change. Feeling a little overwhelmed with big, slow projects, and looking for a short side-gig, I reached out to my friends at Explorasaurus Studios, asked if they wanted to collaborate, and that was that!
Why cows? We all agreed that cows kinda suck. They’re cute, sure. They also contribute to climate change, and drive deforestation. Hence, our tagline, “Cows suck. Why not suck back?” Yes, I will personally take credit for that one.
Odd and Interesting Prototypes
The Climate Jam inspired 49 entries. You can find them all here. I spent yesterday afternoon exploring the entries. They’re ... interesting. Every one of the games has severe flaws (including ours). And. And. Every one of these games is care-full. Calling out some of the games that made an impression:
- Night Flyer: A remarkably simple and affecting game about bats.
- Fire Season: A fire-fighting simulation. As a former assistant to the Fire Ecologist at SAMO, I struggle to talk about fire. Most articles, simulations, and so on, are vastly oversimplified to the point of being deceptive via omission. Complexity is critically important. This game, while small and simple and limited in scope, isn’t misleading. It is instead, appropriately challenging.
- Panda Smash: Perhaps inspired by true events.
- E-Missions: The only game to even attempt to address climate change in an authentically complicated manner. Wow.
- Fire Tree: I don’t know what this is. But ... it makes me feel something.
Students were Challenged
To make games for change. The 2020 Games for Change Student Challenge happened too. All submissions were due by the end of April, judging happened last week, and I volunteered a bit of time to help out as a judge.
Most of the games followed the same general pattern, but there were several standouts. One lightweight life sim required you to make balanced choices about life and health while living as a smoker. (Hint: Smoking caused problems.)
Mindful Mammoth is now Sparklier
Over the past few months, Subplex has been working behind the scenes to upgrade the Mindful Mammoth website. Originally, it was a thing that I designed by myself. For good and bad, you could tell. It was authentic, but also rough, and probably not as enticing as it could be to potential partners and clients.
As of today, it is enormously improved. Check it out here.
Layouts, fonts, navigation – all are cleaner and stronger and more attractive. There are a few minor bugs to work out, mostly in the form of dangling links that need reconnecting, but those things are straightforward to fix.
The website always looked like it was built by someone with heart, because it was. Now, it looks like it was built by someone with heart and skillz, because it was! Thank you, CC.
In this wonky world, I am grateful for friends and family, colleagues and patrons – we’re all in this together. As an extra special thanks to those of you who supported us at the $10/month level and above, I’m sending you a signed page of Cows code.
Yes, three pages of code in three months is a little repetitive. It’s also authentic. Most of our current work is in a digital space. I’ll try to find something a little more offbeat for next month.