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Toronto Board Game Jam Roundup – Part 1. the Broad strokes.

February 28, 2012

What did you do this past weekend?   Maybe you went to the mall, or out for some drinks with some friends, or catched whatever bad winter season rom com is in the theatres.    While you were doing whatever you were doing, myself, my partner (@allypattern on twitter) and 70+ other people participated in the 2nd annual Toronto Board Game Jam.  *please note that this post is more of a everything that happened at the Jam post, a personal post about teh development of our game will come in the next day or two.

You might be asking yourself, what’s a board game jam?   Well imagine you get together with a group of other people for a weekend, with the goal of creating a board game over the course of the weekend.  So in less than 48 hrs you and your team have to conceptualize, build, and play test a board game.   If it sounds like a lot of pressure, well it kind of it, but it’s also designed to have you think about your limited time and resources and put together something playable and fun.

The weekend started out with a talk/ exercise by coordinator Adam Clare, who teaches game design at George Brown College (the Jam itself also took place there).

The exercise that Adam planned for us used tiny wooden play pieces called Meeples.  In the exercise we had to concieve of a way to make a very simple game (3 humans must destroy a “robot” before it gets them) that had a set of rules that would make the game fun and give it replay value.  It was actually a very interesting exercise.   When people think of board games, they generally think of kids games, but there are a vast amount of adult oriented boardgames with sophisticated rulesets and game mechanics to keep people engaged, interested and playing.

After the game rules/ mechanics exercise, all the group split off in search of a space where they could make their games.   The game jam provided old board games and other miscellaneous do dads for us to use as game pieces, lunch, coffee (oh the endless coffee) and snacks to keep us fueled up.    Day 1 (Sat consisted of getting our games mocked up, worked out and some rudimentary testing of our rules/ mechanics.   We had until about 7pm at the College, then parted ways to return home to deprive ourselves of sleep, only to return to the Jam by 10am the next day to polish, print, and play test our games, before having to finish at 6pm.

Above we see the team who created Heavy Metal Combat, a dice/ paper game where you build robots and have them compete.  Best part was the sales floor/ auction aspect of the gameplay.

Here we have Andrey and Bo’s game Subways, Subways, Subways.  It’s a city council simulator, where one side plays the Ford Nation trying to build subways through intimidation and dirty tricky and the other plays as City Council trying to get LRTs built.   I had the opportunity to play this game, and while the rules were (at first) complicated, once I got into it, I have to say it was AMAZING!  My favorite game of the Jam.

Here’s Black Hat Tycoon, where you play a Wild West era robber baron, trying to profit in sneaky and underhanded ways…..

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So after we built and playtested, it was off to the Central, a bar in the Annex district in Toronto to showcase our games to the public at a play party!

A packed house full of players and over 20 Board Games made in LESS THAN 48hrs!   Truly it’s a remarkable thing, the calibre of the games were incredible!  Here’s a few more pics of the games.

RATRACE!

Hungry, Hungry Hipsters, a game about consumer goods, chain stores and pop culture trivia!

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The evening ended with an ad hoc awards ceremony, Where Adam and the rest of the Board Game Jam team held raffles and gave out awards for games.

@Allypattern and I were lucky enough to win a raffle for free participation in the 2013 Board Game Jam!  Which was pretty awesome, others won gift certificates to the awesome game cafe in Toronto, Snakes and Lattes.

Then came the award for Crowd favorite, which went to Black Hat Tycoon.  Best use of the theme of the Jam (SCIENCE!) went to Frankenfood.  And best overall game of the Jam (as David, one of the Jammer organizers put it, the JamSpeil) was WE ARE LEGION!  Which was the game that Alison and I made for the Jam, in which you play cooperatively as anonymous attempting to hack corporate servers and win the public relations war!

Needless to say that we were very suprised and very honored to be given top prize at the Jam, particularly since this was the first board game we’ve ever made.   We won a gift certificate for The Game Crafter, a site that will print to order your indie made games! So we’ll be producing more copies, after a redesign and rule tweak after some feedback from playtesting.  But more on that later.

If you have never participated in an event like this, I highly recommend it.  It provides a unique challenge where you need to take something from concept to finished product in a very short period of time, which really brings out the best in problem solving, creative thinking, and collaboration.  Kudos to everyone who made games at the Jam, so amazing!  And thanks to Adam, David, Charlie and the rest of the team for putting this together.   I had the time of my life doing this.

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