Global collaboration through the Cross-Cultural Impact Jam
The Cross-Cultural Impact Jam brought together students from 18 universities across Canada, the United States, Senegal, and France to build games centered on inclusivity.
Unity recently participated in the Cross-Cultural Impact Jam, a week-long virtual event presented by Games for Change, Unity, and the French Embassy in the U.S., with the help of the French Embassy in Canada and the Consulate General of France in Quebec. The event brought together 70 student developers and 19 educators for a global collaboration exploring how to integrate inclusivity and social impact into their work.
Unlike most jams, which generally “crunch” development into a weekend, the Cross-Cultural Impact Jam took place over an entire week. The extended schedule enabled collaboration between teammates across global time zones and allowed students to balance their school and personal schedules.
“We wanted to be sure that the structure of the Impact Jam encouraged a counter-crunch mentality as much as possible, particularly since these students will soon be entering the workforce. Time is a precious commodity these days, so giving students space and flexibility to self-organize their remote productions was key,” said Susanna Pollack, President of Games for Change.
Students participated in various preparatory activities and workshops, including a series of conversations led by the IGDA Foundation that offered practical tips for embedding diversity, equity, and inclusion concepts into their projects. They were also invited to a design workshop utilizing the Games for Change Impact Methodology. Students were then given the theme of “Amplifying Voices,” which was selected to encourage students to consider how best to uplift and advocate for meaningful social issues and underrepresented voices in our communities.
At the end of the Impact Jam, teams presented their work to a panel of guest judges, including Alain Wong from Unity, Jehanne Rousseau from Spiders, Kishonna Gray from the University of Illinois – Chicago, and Krystel Theuvenin from the School of Interactive Arts. Together, the group celebrated a week of cross-collaboration, and four student teams were honored with awards for the games they created during the event:
- Most Creative Award: Automated Days – A game that involves playing as a warehouse worker in an industry aimed at becoming more efficient, despite human well-being.
- Making an Impact Award: Mask – A game about masking and the risks and rewards of revealing yourself to others.
- Best Visual Design: Piggy – In this horror-themed platformer game, the player is a pig trying to escape a slaughterhouse.
- Grand Prize Winner: Paving the Way – This experience puts players in the position of a visually impaired person by helping them navigate a town using tactile paving.
All of the games created during the jam are playable through the Cross-Cultural Impact Jam Showcase page on Unity Play. Want to learn more about the games students created? Check out the Unity Twitch Stream here. Learn more about the Unity Social Impact program here.
Thanks to the participating schools:
Arizona State University, Carnegie Mellon University, Centre for Digital Media, Cnam-Enjmin, Ecole Supérieure Polytechnique de Dakar, Ecole Supérieure Multinationale des Télécommunication, Groupe IAM (African Management Institute), IIM DIGITAL SCHOOL, ISART DIGITAL, Langara Centre for Entertainment Arts, New York University, POLE 3D, Polytechnic School Thiès, Rochester Institute of Technology, Sheridan College, Spelman College, Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Université virtuelle du Sénégal