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Local Game Developers Gathering to Help Solve Global Water Crisis

Walker Evans Walker Evans Local Game Developers Gathering to Help Solve Global Water Crisis
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The independent video game development industry is quickly and quietly growing in Columbus, and David All wants to bring that to your attention.

“It’s potentially the biggest game development community in the Midwest,” he says. “More than 600 members are in the Central Ohio GameDev Meetup Group, and over 1,200 attended the Ohio Game Developers Expo at COSI last year.”

As the founder of CivicHacks, All is helping to launch a new event series called Game Jam, which brings local developers and designers together to collaborate over the span of 48 hours to work on a big project for the greater good. The first Game Jam takes place this weekend, and the focus is on the international water availability crisis.

We spoke with All to find out more about Game Jam, about video game development in Columbus, and what other good can come from working together to bring awareness to big global issues. Our full Q&A can be found below:

Q: How did the idea come about to launch the Game Jam, and how did the focus land on water availability issues?

A: The idea for Game Jam was a collaboration between Calvin Cooper of NCT Ventures, Kelsey Langdale of packH2O, Nick Davis of Lumos Columbus and myself. Generally we’re all really impressed with the work packH2O is doing and wanted to find a way to do our part to help. Lumos is, among other things, an incubator for video game developers, and we all agreed that doing an event that pulled all of our resources together fit well with the mission of CivicHacks.

From a game development point-of-view, we have heard from participants that the mechanics of water are really interesting and inspiring. Video games are a global medium, so the broad appeal of addressing the water crisis can capture the imagination and interest of many people beyond Columbus. Of course, the story would point back to our community of civic-minded game developers and artists who created it. That’s a big potential win-win for Columbus.

Q: Is the event targeted at experienced game designers and developers or can those with a more casual interest get involved?

A: Participants signing up are a blend of full-time game developers, casual game developers, designers and artists, and gamedev students from Ohio State. We want to reach and encourage anyone excited about using their skills in video game development for a good cause that could add value when participating. Not everyone can give up 48 hours, so we’ve also opened it up to the the curious types who can come to the final presentation at 6pm on Sunday, Jan 18 for some free Jeni’s ice cream.

Q: Outside of the main goal of addressing the water crisis, what other good can come out of an event like this?

A: The game developers I’ve talked with are most excited about having a fun experience doing what they love for a good cause. The very act of designing and creating a game in a short time-frame that could potentially make an impact is quite appealing. The event itself has been curated to maximize networking opportunities with game devs, and also open up the game dev community to the broader innovation ecosystem in Columbus. For example, our judges include social impact investor Tony Wells and NCT Ventures’ Rich Langdale — so this could start a conversation that leads to great things for gaming (for good) in Columbus.

For more information about the Game Jam, visit www.civichacks.org.

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