Summer of Science: The Royal Society Game Jam

By Adam Smith on April 4th, 2013 at 8:00 pm.

For someone like me, a history buff who hasn’t done anything scientific since setting fire to his school tie with a Bunsen burner, the Royal Society is pretty much a mythological institution. Its presidents have included Christopher Wren, Samuel Pepys and Isaac Newton, and the current holder of the position, Paul Nurse, is both a Nobel Prize winning geneticist and a believer in strong public discourse about scientific matters. In May, preceding its Summer Science Exhibition, the venerable institution will host a gamejam, teaming developers with the scientists behind the exhibits that showcase the best of current research and technology in the UK. Pepys would have approved. All the details, including how to enter yourself for consideration, are below.

The jam will last for twelve hours and is scheduled to take place on 24th May:

The Royal Society is looking for experienced games development studios to take part in new initiative that will turn some of the research on show at its annual Summer Science Exhibition into video games. The Royal Society will host a 12 hour game jam on 24th May that will see developers work with the scientists behind exhibits to produce five exciting new games.

Unity Technologies, a games development software company, will support the Royal Society in creating fun interpretations of the science that will be on show at this year’s Exhibition. Of the 23 exhibits taking part this year, 5 will be selected to take part in the game jam. The Royal Society is partnering with indie game distribution portal, IndieCity, to share the games produced at the jam.

The game jam will take place at the Royal Society in London. Five development teams of up to 4 developers will be partnered with the selected exhibitors for an all-day game jamathon from 10am – 10pm. Each development team will receive £2,000 to further develop their games after the game jam so that they are ready to be played at the Summer Science Exhibition which runs from 1st – 7th July. The games will be available free online and at the exhibition itself so that the public can cast votes for their favourite game. The team that receives the most votes will receive an additional £2,000 to further develop the games once the Exhibition closes.

I tend to grimace when I see interactive elements in art galleries and museums because I’m an archaic curmudgeon, but if the exhibits are based in the history or indeed future of science and technology, I’ll take every opportunity to learn or engage by doing something. The last time I visited Manchester’s own Museum of Science and Industry I spent a few hours in the interactive section, convincing my girlfriend that it’s not just for kids, even though we were pretty much surrounded by kids who were patiently waiting to have a turn on the block-building earthquake simulator.

The chair of the Society’s Summer Science Exhibition selecting committee, Professor Peter Sadler, had the following to say about the importance of both the exhibition and, specifically, the inclusion of games:

The Summer Science Exhibition is one of the highlights of the Royal Society’s year. It provides a unique opportunity for members of the public to interact with scientists and ask them questions about their work. We’re very excited to be introducing a new element to the Exhibition this year in the form of the Games Jam. An increasing number of exhibitors have used games as a way of communicating their science over the last few years and we’re hoping that by giving some of them an opportunity to be part of the Games Jam it will bring state-of-the-art creativity and innovation to their video games and some fantastic news ways of bringing their cutting-edge research to life for our visitors. I’m really looking forward to playing with what’s created on the day!

Promoting thoughts and knowledge about science through invitations to the public and game developers, and promoting the value of play as a tool for learning, communication and enjoyment. Excellent. More details, including instructions on how to apply, are available at the Society’s website.

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6 Comments »

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  1. Brun says:

    I fully expect Kerbal Space Program to make an appearance.

    EDIT: Okay, not really that kind of event. But it should appear anyway, because science.

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  2. phelix says:

    Summer? It’s barely even stopped snowing here.

  3. rb2610 says:

    12 hour GameJam? That’s a bit short isn’t it? :/

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      Not with SHODAN taunts in the background… You parasite!

    • royalsociety says:

      Yes the game jam is only 12 hours but we are covering costs for the developers to continue working on the game over the following couple of weeks to get it polished.