It takes a great imagination and drive to dream up (and execute on) one of the most inventive game jams yet conceived. Say, for example, a much-anticipated game jam on a boat in wintry Norway, as code is crunched to create excellent game experiences. Enter SPLASH 2016 and its innovative organizers, Henriette Myrlund, with Framverk, and Runa Haukland, with Hamar Game Collective. We were able to connect with one of the busy organizers, Henriette Myrlund, for a Q&A about this unique game development event.
Q: Henriette, please tell us about yourself and your background and also tell us about your organizing co-captain, Runa Haukland.
A: I used to work as a game designer for Playfish, but when the studio got shut down by EA, I started my own company called Plus Point. After about three years, I also became the project manager for Framverk, which is a network of game companies, and we’re co-organizing SPLASH together with Hamar Game Collective.
Runa is in charge of everything over at Hamar Game Collective and have been doing that for the last two years. She’s getting really good at organizing things and has been involved in all the major events that they do such as Global Game Jam, Lyst and now a game jam on a boat.
Q: We understand the idea of hosting a game jam on a cruise ship was inspired in part by Train Jam and the lack of trains in Norway, but why host a mobile game jam? What are the pros and/or cons of a mobile game jam versus a standard game jam?
A: Mostly we just want to shake it up a bit! A moving jam gives some restrictions that could give interesting results, and this jam in particular will let the participants be inspired by the stunning Norwegian coastal scenery, and the jam is finished when they have to get off the boat. It also gives jammers from all over the world a chance to come together and meet some new people!
Q: Have you organized other game jams, or is this your first? What challenges did you face organizing a game jam on a cruise ship?
A: I’ve participated a few game jams and have been part of organizing one we call the Arctic Game Jam, while Runa has experience in organizing the biggest Global Game Jam in Norway for the last three years, in addition to smaller internal jams for the Hamar Game Collective. The biggest challenge is that nothing is in the same place — we’re in completely different parts of the country, and so is the boat. Logistics have been tricky, especially having to communicate with the booking department of the boat.
Q: SPLASH sold out its 100 spots in 10 minutes. Is there a wait-list, and if so, how many people are on it? What’s the main hype from registrants and those wanting to participate?
A: The wait list is LONG, way longer than we anticipated. Currently almost 100 people are on it, and 70 of them signed up the first day tickets got sold out. Unsure of what the hype is, except the new-ness of it, perhaps? And of course, many want to be lucky and see the northern lights.
Q: Do you have any surprises planned, beyond the memorable experience of a game jam being hosted on a cruise ship?
A: YES, but it’s super secret for now (and extremely Norwegian).
Q: What are the main goals you hope to accomplish with SPLASH, for Framverk and the Hamar Game Collective, as well as for attendees?
A: We hope the attendees get to meet and work with some new people and that they relax and have fun and will return to their daily lives inspired and refreshed. If we pull this off, it’ll be great press for the Norwegian games industry and promising for further collaboration between HGC and Framverk. Norway hasn’t had many international game-related events in the past, so we look at it as a chance of bringing the world to us instead of having to travel outside of Norway to make new contacts.
Q: How is the company you work for, Framverk, and your event partner, Hamar Game Collective, working together to build SPLASH?
A: We’ve split the workload 50/50-ish, and all communication goes through Skype, Slack, email and similar channels. I think we’ve met in person only twice … so, again, the logistics are tricky to manage, but we make it work, and we’re very happy with what we’ve been able to pull off!
Q: What other partners are involved in SPLASH, and how are they helping to organize it?
A: It’s actually just the two of us doing the actual organizing of the event, and we’ve been lucky to receive funding from Innovation Norway and the Norwegian Film Institute. We’re also extremely happy to have Unity with us! We couldn’t have pulled this off without our sponsors, and we love them to bits!
Q: Do you hope to make SPLASH a recurring event, especially if the 2016 first-time event is successful?
A: YES. We also know that there’s an old submarine base just outside of Tromsø … Who knows what we’ll come up with next!
Q: Lastly, what fun or interesting tidbits do you have to share about the Norwegian game industry?
A: Tricky question! The Norwegian games industry is definitely growing fast, and with clusters and co-working spaces now appearing all over Norway, it looks like the companies start working more closely together. We didn’t have many big game companies just a few years back, but now the industry is fully blooming, and we have some well-known titles in our backpacks and some very interesting titles on their way!
Also, we heard some crazy people are traveling on a boat just to make games …
SPLASH 2016 takes place Feb. 19-22, 2016, on a cruise ship in Norway.