Living the indie life: mapping creative teams in a 48 hour game jam and playing with data

Truna aka J.Turner, Lubi Thomas and Cameron Owen

In contemporary game development circles the ‘game making jam’ has become an important rite of passage and baptism event, an exploration space and a central indie lifestyle affirmation and community event. Game jams have recently become a focus for design researchers interested in the creative process. In this paper we tell the story of an established local game jam and our various documentation and data collection methods. We present the beginnings of the current project, which seeks to map the creative teams and their process in the space of the challenge, and which aims to enable participants to be more than the objects of the data collection. A perceived issue is that typical documentation approaches are ‘about’ the event as opposed to ‘made by’ the participants and are thus both at odds with the spirit of the jam as a phenomenon and do not really access the rich playful potential of participant experience. In the data collection and visualisation projects described here, we focus on using collected data to re-include the participants in telling stories about their experiences of the event as a place-based experience. Our goal is to find a means to encourage production of ‘anecdata’ – data based on individual story telling that is subjective, malleable, and resists collection via formal mechanisms – and to enable mimesis, or active narrating, on the part of the participants. We present a concept design for data as game based on the logic of early medieval maps and we reflect on how we could enable participation in the data collection itself.