In the Summer of 2020, in the midst of COVID-19 lockdowns and protests for racial and economic justice, I thought a lot about the role that games and game jams can play in creating solidarity in local communities. Neighborjam was a month-long remote game jam with the goal of making games about (and in support of) local businesses, community organizations and mutual aid groups.
Several people entered and worked on games inspired by their local communities; interestingly, some groups collaborated across continents and timezones and shared knowledge about community action in their own local spaces. Unfortunately, several groups had to drop out of the jam due to time and energy constraints – very understandable during the pandemic – but one of the entries, Golden Mart by Michael DeAnda and Carly Kocurek, showcased at Wordplay 2020!
As the jam organizer, I created original promotional materials, organized weekly check-ins, workshopped ideas by jam participants and managed a Discord server for the jam. Despite the small number of submissions in 2020, I am very excited about this model for game jams and hope to run it again in the future, hopefully with local support and in-person components once this is feasible!