The Jam To-morrow

Two quarts of Bertolli. 55 cans of fizzy pop. Several bottles of wine. Two cartons of apple juice. Four trays of assorted dips (no nachos). Bananas, crisps, oranges. Jam. Bread. Uncountable bottles of cheap beer. Five empty pizza boxes spilling out of overfilled bins. Twenty assorted laptops and associated smelly men. This is the content of our gamejam.
I came along to see the raw productivity of a gamejam in flow, but I’m left baffled. How is this is considered an activity for grown-ups to do? It’s a throwback to a scout camp or a school trip, where boys can get away with being dirty and doing things bad for their health. It literally stinks. Eating crap, drinking beer, not washing, sleeping badly on a floor and getting all competitive up in someone else’s grill; this is not an activity, surely, that adults choose to indulge in? The two women who came along, both board level members of UKIE, went home to the safety of their beds late last night, leaving us to the bonhomie of the fart joke.
Lawks, amongst this extremely right-on audience, who at eight o’clock were discussing the sexual politics of the Eurogamer Expo, last night one man suddenly awoke with a Archimedes leap, Eurekaed his way over to his programmer and, I swear, bellowed that he’d had a dream about shotgun mechanics to the sleeping halls.
And now it’s 8.00a.m. and scoutmaster Luton should be assembling the semi-dressed manflesh for breakfast (woe betide you should you miss it.) Yet, I’m impressed at the work ethic of the coders. My coder was up until 4a.m. Another stayed up nearly all night, even though his prototype was finished, just polishing endlessly. The other two coders are in exactly the same position, attitude and clothes as I when I went to be four hours ago. This is how they live. They’re in thrall to the code, and last night, as the exhausted journalists-turned-devs scattered themselves in stinky heaps on the floor, the coders commented about how ‘this isn’t late’ and ‘I’m not even sleepy’. Admittedly, they’re all still students, so they have an advantage over normal humans, but students tend to stay up all night writing essays or partying not… coding.
Though I’ve loved the raw productivity of this gamejam, I’m not convinced this children’s party atmosphere and setting is inherent to it; surely a more sedate situation, with a remote jam, would work just as well. I have a horrible feeling it’s just a way of coders, who stay up this late anyway, to get some company in the wee hours and to network, doing what they would have done anyway.
I don’t know yet if I would do this again. I’m very impressed at what’s been created so far, but I’m also very, very tired and aware that my involvement is very much secondary to the magic of the coders. (And I want to be at home playing XCOM.)


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