Retrospective: DIA Game Jam #2

Playing with playfulness for displays.

Retrospective: DIA Game Jam #2
Photo by Rubenz Arizta / Unsplash

The DIA Game Club runs a monthly game jam where members get together and have fun making games in a supportive environment.

In this series we're giving non-Game Club folks a chance to see what it's like participating in a game jam and sharing what we learned along the way. We hope you learn something new after reading!

Take two!

Welcome back, everyone! The DIA Game Club is back and with another game jam to talk about.


Desired outcomes

For the first jam we wanted to see if our initial attempt was:

  • Effective. Would it help us be more creative and intentional?
  • Sustainable. Could we consistently do this?
  • Enjoyable. Is it fun to do?

Seeing how successful last month's jam was, we decided to continue monitoring its desired outcomes and added on a new one:

  • Replicable. Can this format hold up with different themes, tools, etc.?
Er, maybe not "replicable" as in exact clones...

The tool

For the second DIA Game Jam we chose Twine, a tool for making hyperlink-based interactive fiction games.

Screenshot of the Twine interface. 

We wanted to continue learning and practicing with approachable tools considering our limited session times. In addition, we had interest in specifically learning Twine, which only cemented our decision.

The theme

This month's randomly generated one-word theme was "display", which could refer to the showing of a museum artifact to people, a digital monitor, or even a performance meant to attract attention.

Don't you just love that old computer display feel?

"helmet" from last month was already a little unexpected, but this one was tricky... Which meant this was even more of an opportunity for interesting game ideas!

Participants and their entries

This time around we had Justin Kim and Alex Forseth return. Alex was totally new to using Twine while Justin had already learned it before.

Justin's entry is a piece about choosing one gachapon toy to keep amongst multiple display cases.

Alex's entry is a piece about discovering what happened to a civilization through accessing a display terminal.

Our observations

Here are some of the observations we made for the second DIA Game Jam.

What would the World's Greatest Detective™ observe?

For the jam

  • Enjoying the tool more than we thought. We both didn't expect to like using Twine so much. Alex enjoyed the branching and writing aspects of the tool while Justin liked how he could experiment with structure and narrative.
  • Concepting took longer than expected. At least for Justin, the concept phase took up too much time relative to the implementation phase.
  • Underestimating scope. As if taking too long on the concept phase wasn't bad enough, our two members also bit off more than they could chew when implementing their games.

For Justin's game

  • Resonating on a personal level. The game making the player reflect on their own similar experiences struck a chord with them.
  • Giving without telling. Showing the story to the player made the player character's history interesting to learn about.
  • Hinting at potential. The unfinished mechanics showed the player a potential gameplay experience they feel they'd enjoy.

For Alex's game

  • Pacing the narrative. Giving the player bits and pieces of the story at a time built tension and made it easier to digest.
  • Building off a classic concept. Alex putting his own spin on the found-footage film and epistolary novel by combining them with the apocalyptic genres made the game fun to read.
  • Letting AI speed up the process. Notion AI writing content for a diegetic, or an in-universe, game object reduced the amount of time it would have taken to create it.

If we had more time...

  • Finishing mechanics!. Justin would have fully implemented the mechanics he intended his prototype to have.
  • Including more narrative touchpoints! Alex would have made more opportunities for players to learn about the world his game describes.
The cycle of grief 😭


We found this second jam to be:

  • Replicable. Despite using a new tool and theme, we found this month was just as effective, sustainable, and enjoyable like last month.

DIA Game Club is hyped to accomplish another game jam. Stay tuned as we continue this strange and fun experiment!

How it feels when we finish a game jam!

That's all, folks!

Thanks for reading about our game jam! To keep up with future jams we do, don't forget to subscribe to DIA's newsletter and follow us on LinkedIn.