Imagine this scenario, you are tasked with a 48 hour long project it has to be working and completed, yet all that is on offer is hard work and a few honorary titles by judges. Sleeping is on concrete floors or at your desk, food on the plus will be provided to minimise disruption to productivity…. if your boss or company suggested any such thing you would probably think they have lost their marbles somewhere and at a minimum grumble like crazy. Would you do it?
Now replace the company setting with a bunch of students going towards a game industry qualification and you have a crazy army of volunteer students opting in to the honours of potentially winning a game jam by coming up with a working game in the 48 hour period. Well that was my experience last weekend… and I would say epic would be about right. I had never done nor experienced any such thing and as far as game design studies are concerned I am in the early days, even with a masters in gamification design and several other qualifications and experiences, this one topped a lot of learning.
We all met up online via Skype in the days leading up to the game jam, but in fairness none of our team met each other for real before the weekend. Teams can be tricky business, but we were blessed to have a great mix of skill and personality and in some magic way we made it work. The decision made before we got together was to have a go at making something in Unity, which none of us had down before, but we were all willing to learn as we went along. I guess our team name lived up to it’s expectations, it takes a dream to achieve what we created with Unity Dreamers and our game Grave Choices.
The theme of the competition was left open and all we knew going towards our room is that we had 48 hours and game to design. Walking through a graveyard on the way to our room inspired us to work on this theme and explore our options. Well what a learning curve between google help, bing search, tutorials and mentors, we all learned how to manipulate parts of the Unity software and whipped our game into shape. We designed a 3-D first person platform game, which hopefully down the line our student studio can explain more about. We ended up with 3 working levels and are now working on more. We decided really early on that we had two real stakes to play for which we could control, one was innovation and the other team work and if we could have a working game we could be in with a chance to win best game.
Because Unity is such a visually pleasing software, we managed to create an impressive looking terrain, whilst everyone worked hard to make animations, code and other creations relating to the game work. Sleep for most of the guys was limited down to 1 to 3 hours over the whole weekend, I am easily admitting I took probably more than 5, but did my best to make up for it at presentation time.
I have to say the lessons for me from this weekend were that if you have a strong focus and a team that pulls together, anything is possible. I am still buzzing a few days later and our project is still under development. We won the Best Team prize and rumour had it we were also in the running for the innovation and best game prizes too and even caused debate for a potentially new and impressive prize for novices attempting the impossible ;-).
As one of our guys would say, we had the PPPP Power! and with that it is all possible.
Think about this when designing gamification rewards, 3 honours were on offer to win between 20-30 teams of 3 to 6 people and for 48 hours non-stop people worked and achieved something extraordinary. Something tells me intrinsic motivation is a strong driver combined with focus and team work, it becomes awesome!!!
What would you do just for honours?