Launching on Hallowe-en and running for 48 hours, the Asylum Jam is set up to seek out inventive horror games and disrupt tropes involving asylums and the stigmatisation of mental health issues.
Last year saw the inaugural Asylum Jam which attracted 385 participants and produced around 60 games. You can find those on the original website – there are things like Sea Nothing which is an undersea sim where you have to follow a tether to a diving cage and not get eaten by monstrous fish or swallowed up by the darkness.
The reasoning behind the challenge is that horror games usually derive their power from the unknown, the unexpected or the things we don’t understand. Mental health issues are one of these subjects, despite the fact that a significant number of people are affected by them (1 in 4 British adults, for example).
As per last year’s introduction:
Many horror games use the negative portrayal of those who suffer from mental illness as extremely violent or sadistic, usually as the villain or antagonist, as an easy crutch to rest their story, characters and motivations on.
This year’s announcement goes into more detail on the subject:
To recap, Asylum Jam is a 48 hour game development challenge in which devs are challenged to create a horror game without negative mental health stereotypes (à la Outlast), or painting the medical profession in a negative light (à la Shattered Memories).
This is not supposed to be a jam saying ‘these are bad games’, but simply a positive way to explore outside of tired, harmful tropes and to expand on horror – which is such a big place for us to explore with the rise of VR, especially.
If you’re interested in taking part it starts at 7pm GMT on October 31st.