A few weekends back, I participated in a HOG jam. HOG is the House of Games organization, and the game jam theme was ‘Games for Good’. This was a pretty interesting theme, as I had never done anything remotely similar in any other game jams before. After the initial introductions, I jumped on a team with an artist I worked with on both Douse and Lignum, Constance Chen.
We immediately started brainstorming ideas when we sat down, and I can safely say that the first couple were not prize winners. We kept mulling over this idea and that one, the implications of each one, and whether or not it would actually be doing good. After about an hour of a half of that, we were both spent. With the last bit of creative whimsy left in my brain, I blurted out the words ‘kids with credit cards’. Constance was quickly sold on it, and off we went designing a game around teaching children about finance.
The game itself is pretty simple: A point and click adventure akin to “Putt Putt” games that’s meant to teach kids about the basics of finance. It covers topics like credit cards, loans and interest, and taxes. It’s not meant to be overly heavy handed, but just introduce the basic concepts. Though time didn’t allow, I would’ve had a little bit of interactivity in each area, showing rather than telling each concept.
The actual creation of the game went smoother than any game jam previous. I planned out the general layout with Constance and immediately went to work creating it. An initial obstacle for me was creating the text boxes. I didn’t have experience with too many GUI plugins, so I decided to just rough it out the best I could. I had to find solutions to things like word wrapping and text size and placement as fast as I could, but once that was up, I got to focus on the little bits of interactivity we had budgeted out. We were working on a ‘at least get to this point then reevaluate’ sort of basis when it came to features. With the velocity that I ended up having though, we ended up with a nice handful of extra bonuses we hadn’t initially planned for.
After the 48 hours, we were finished. We got to do a nifty little presentation in front of everyone else there, and it felt very well received. Constance’s art has a great style to it, and gives the game a charming feel. We didn’t end up winning one of the two spots, but one of the judges stopped by to tell us that he enjoyed the game quite a bit and we were a close third. The website and subsequent game can be found here. It’s definitely a simple game but it could definitely be something interesting if we expanded upon it, who knows what the future holds.