Game_Jam, the Reality Show About Indie Game-Makers, Crashed and Burned on Day One

One part indie dev, two parts confrontational show design, an infinity of problems

By on April 1st, 2014 13:32 GMT

Game_Jam was a TV-style reality show focused on portraying the woes of indie game developers, designed to show off the personalities and skills of various indie devs to the world outside. Surprised you haven't heard of it? Well, that's because the show imploded before it got a chance to take off.

Indie gaming is more than a trend, it's a certain way people embrace life, one that has evolved and spawned its own media outlets and dedicated communities that live outside of the conventional world of big budgets and business meetings.

While indie devs live and breathe just like the rest of us, their aura of folk heroes has inspired filmmakers throughout time, most notable being Indie Game: The Movie, an award-winning feature documentary about all the tribulations and hurdles the creative individuals that dare step outside the lines of mainstream face.

As can easily be seen by watching the horrible adaptations to film of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise, gaming is best left to gamers. It may sound elitist, but it's just a matter of respect. Imagine how the Jersey Shore show would turn out if somebody made them all start reading fancy books in order to cater to librarians.

The reality show, aptly named Game_Jam, began as a sort of documentary that was supposed to illustrate the tightly-knit sense of community shared by indie developers, as well as the actual atmosphere that governs working on games and the difficulties they have to face and how they manage to band together and overcome them, presented through the lens of some YouTube personalities.

The idea grew until it caught the attention of The Man, so to say, attracting the attention of major sponsors and creative production executive who slowly turned the show concept into something more along the lines of entertainment than documentary.

The notion was that the Jammers (devs) and Gamers (YouTubers) would compete in a sort of game show for various meaningless but branded prizes, and then it slowly collapsed into a scripted reality show that was focused on creating drama for the sake of the audience, with less than 25 percent of the scheduled shooting time available for sitting down and actually doing some work.

Game_Jam
Game_Jam
The rest of the timetable was filled with arts and crafts, physical challenges and competitive gaming, but the developers did not yet know that what was awaiting them would be so much different than what they initially signed up for.

As such, the first day was lost arguing over draconian contracts that would insulate the producer from any kind of resulting legal issues, with the wording failing to understand what it is exactly that game developers actually do.

The aggressive wording on the contracts ran right into the livelihoods and independent agencies of every Game_Jam contestant from the very beginning, so the contract was negotiated and eventually changed.

In a nutshell, the whole thing went south the moment when questions such as "Two of the other teams have women on them. Do you think they're at a disadvantage?" started popping up.

When asked whether a team felt like they have an advantage because they had an attractive woman on their side, the leader said that yes, they have an advantage because she is a good programmer.

The developers and YouTubers banded together and rejected the violation of their principles which was imposed on them for the sake of drama, and gradually left the set in varying degrees of fury.

A much more detailed report on the whole thing is available on IndieStatik, and is worth a read for everyone who dislikes the Jersey Shore television show.
Game_Jam
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   Game_Jam

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