GAME JAM

From GamerGate Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

GAME_JAM, also known as Green Label Game Jam, was a planned independent game development reality show, sponsored by Pepsi and produced by Polaris, a Maker Studios subsidiary, which was canceled after just one day of shooting. It was organized by Jason Serrato and Aaron Umetani, with a reported budget of $400,000, making it the most expensive game jam ever organized.[1][2] The show was to be a typical game jam with competitive elements, involving eleven developers and four YouTube LPers split into four teams.[3][4] The developers were The Arcane Kids, Robin Arnott, Cale Bradbury, Mark Essen, Tom Jackson, Zoe Quinn, Adriel Wallick, Davey Wreden, and three student developers from USC; the YouTube producers were Jon Jafari (JonTron), Mark Fischbach (Markiplier), Samuel Thorne (Strippin), and Jordan Maron (CaptainSparklez); and finally, the judges were Joe Vargas and Kellee Santiago.[5][6]

Before Shooting

GAME_JAM faced trouble before shooting even started, due to number of issues, chief among them being how the project had evolved. Initially it was a more conventional documentary, but after acquiring the sponsorship from Pepsi, the project changed considerably into a competitive reality show, even losing much of the attention to game development, which wasn't properly communicated to participants.[7] Already uneasy with the paradigm shift, the contestants were asked to sign contracts with extremely restrictive clauses which indicated a lack of understanding about independent game development.[8]

Problems with the contract included language restricting developers from appearing in any other media including their own games, allowing the producers to misrepresent the developers for the sake of drama, a requirement for the developers to travel whenever the production needed them to at the developers' own cost, and a lifetime restriction on speaking ill of the production.[9][10] The contestants renegotiated their contracts, and many of the controversial points were altered, but it stalled filming for several days.[11][12]

Another serious problem was the excessive Mountain Dew product placement, managed by Matti Leshem, CEO of a branding management company who arranged for the Pepsi Sponsorship.[13][14][15] It was so excessive that developers were not even allowed to drink coffee or water on set.[16][17] Even the prizes were exclusively Mountain Dew themed, much to the disappointment of everyone involved.[18][19] The overbearing product placement, the lost of focus on game design, and the burnout from contract negotiation left the developers uneasy and wary of things to come.

First Day of Shooting

Despite the setbacks from before shooting even started, the first bit of shooting on Thursday, 27 March done went surprisingly well.[20] Before long, however, Jafari and Quinn, who were on the same team, got into a disagreement and went into the hall to discuss it.[21] Unexpectedly and at Leshem's behest, they were surrounded by cameras expecting to film the argument, however neither party wanted their differences to be misrepresented for drama.[22] Even after nothing became of Quinn and Jafari's discussion, Leshem pressured Jafari to speak ill of Quinn on camera, but Jafari refused.[23] Meanwhile, the computers provided to do coding on began to fail due to malware, and they were even loaded with unregistered software.[24]

Even once these issues were resolved, the production continued to fall apart, again due to Leshem. Adriel Wallick and Zoe Quinn were the only female developers there, leaving two teams with women and two teams without. Seeking to induce sexist drama, Leshem asked one of the all-men teams, "Two of the other teams have women on them. Do you think they’re at a disadvantage?"[25] The first team responded that they weren't, and so, not getting the answer he wanted, he moved on to the other, which also disappointed him.[26][27] Eventually he reached Wallick's team and asked them, "Do you think you’re at an advantage because you have a pretty girl on your team?" which was met with hostility from the developers.[28][29]

Leshem attempted to smooth things over after the fact by explaining that it wasn't personal, and that he marched for women's rights in the 70's.[30][31] However shortly after that, in what wound up being the final insult, he attempted to get an emotional response from Quinn again.[32] Quinn, Wallick, Robin Arnott, and Davey Wreden (who was only there to support Quinn) were all ready to quit the show at this point.[33][34][35] An emergency meeting was held with all the developers, where the four reaffirmed their intent to leave, but the others still tried to salvage the situation.[36][37][38] Unfortunately Leshem and the baggage he brought had sapped everyone of their enthusiasm for the event, and the most they could agree on was potentially trying something like this again at a later date.[39][40]

Rebel Jam

After GAME_JAM ended, Quinn was left with a desire to start a game jam of her own, run to her own standards.[41] The jam she decided to organize was Rebel Jam, which professes to be a documentary like GAME_JAM was originally meant to be.[42] The website for Rebel Jam was registered on 1 April 2014, 5 days after GAME_JAM was canceled, but has extremely few details, including no start date or formal plans.[43] Despite the lack of details, Quinn solicits donations for Rebel Jam on the website.

The eagerness to start collecting donations and her role in the collapse of GAME_JAM have led some to speculate that Quinn intentionally sabotaged GAME_JAM in order to promote her own jam. They point to the fact that if GAME_JAM were to fail, the interest in a televised game jam would remain, and could be transferred to her own Rebel Jam. However, there were a large amount of factors completely outside Quinn's control that went into the failure of GAME_JAM. Moreover, many of the developers seemed interested in another future project with Maker Studios and Polaris, and Rebel Jam seems unlikely to be able to compete with another production with Maker Studio's resources.


See Also

Zoe Quinn

References

  1. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    By then, the natal idea had already been picked up by Maker’s Polaris vertical, which deals in gaming entertainment and editorial offerings for a mostly YouTube-based audience and was tossed into the hands of Aaron Umetani and Jason Serrato...
  2. Soundself Blog - "GAME_JAM" and the Power of Integrity
    From casual conversations with the crew, I picked up that "GAME_JAM" was one of Polaris' most ambitious and most expensive project to date – costing about $400,000 to produce.
  3. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    A sort of competition, held between four teams of 'Jammers' (the developers) and 'Gamers' (the YouTubers) as they battled it out to see who could come up with the best game combining both development and entertainment skillsets.
  4. Adriel Wallick blog - Let's talk about accountability
    The description we were provided for this jam was simple:'Green Label Game Jam seeks to provide viewers with insight into the technical and artistic process of developing a game, in the format of a reality competition show. We seek to do for indie games what "Top Chef" did for cooking.'
  5. Eurogamer - Game jam reality show cancelled as indies wouldn't put up with its s***
    The show's code name was Game_Jam, and was to star Davey Wreden (The Stanley Parable), Mark Essen (Nidhogg), Zoe Quinn (Depression Quest), Tom Jackson (Surgeon Simulator 2013), Adriel Wallick (Rock Band Blitz), Robin Arnott (Deep Sea), Cale Bradbury (the Dezert), the Arcane Kids (Zineth), and a three-man student team from USC with judges Joe 'AngryJoe' Vargas and Kellee Santiago.
  6. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    The first shots of the day went smoothly. JonTron, Markiplier, Sam Strippin and CaptainSparklez were attached to their respective teams, and the whole procession was moved out to the competition floor with what was honestly a buzz of cautious excitement.
  7. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    That natal idea, and one of the themes central to all eleven developers agreeing to travel to Los Angeles for the shoot, was the production and filming of a game jam for a televised audience (or at least a YouTube audience) with the intent to document the ups and downs of actually developing a game... More importantly, it would be an opportunity for the group to share the closely-knit spirit of togetherness unique to indie development... At some point, GAME_JAM outgrew itself, attracting the attention of major sponsors, as well as a couple of our 'high creative' production executives from the adjacent office down the street, and over the next four or five months, the show began phasing into something less documentary and more docu-tainment... At some point which remains unclear, the show wholly dipped into a scripted reality slant and became less about making a game, and more about creating drama for sake of the audience, less than one day out of the four blocked off for shooting available to sit down and jam... But that wasn't communicated to anyone, and through Polaris' local contacts, the developers were signed up and flown out to Culver City, where they awaited their first hurdle in Maker’s legal department.
  8. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    What is clear, however, is that the pair fought a fairly bitter battle over the contracts everyone was supposed to sign with legal, who had drafted sweeping, draconian agreements meant to completely protect themselves from any kind of resulting legal issues. Standard practice for a production company, but the wording, once again, failed to understand what game developers actually do.
  9. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    Points of contention were numerous, but from what I've been able to gather from both sides, a huge issue was a clause that forced developers to avoid self-representation in any form of digital media during the time period the show was originally supposed to be broadcast... Another clause allowed for willful misrepresentation for the sake of drama, something that could sink the developers’ careers. Another required developerss to travel around on Maker’s timetable in the event interviews, talk shows or reunion episodes were required, but if anyone lived less than 200 miles away, they would have to foot the travel expenses themselves. Still more was a lifetime barrier against defamatory language against the company, even if something went horribly wrong.
  10. Adriel Wallick blog - Let's talk about accountability
    The contract was full of corporate legalese. There were clauses about being allowed to misrepresent us in any way on any topic for 'dramatic effect'. There were sections barring developers from appearing on any form of broadcast media for a period of time longer than anyone should be comfortable with (honestly even any time was too much time). Many of the participants were the sole faces of their company. We, off the bat, would be risking our reputations – our livelihoods – to participate in this jam.
  11. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    The digital competition clause was dropped. The travel and advertising clauses were altered. Time-sensitive restrictions were made more lenient, and the contracts became palatable enough for everyone to get on-board.
  12. Adriel Wallick blog - Let's talk about accountability
    We negotiated the contract as a group. We reworded the most egregious sections – but not before having to push back for days.
  13. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    Somehow, he had ended up as the most visible director on set, as well as what was described to me as a 'Pepsi Consultant.' I quickly took from his posture and the way people were interacting with him that he would spearhead the tone, the filming and the brand-friendliness of the entire affair – but I was wrong. He ended up being a creative consultant who had somehow slipped into the project through his connections to the sponsors, the de facto 'guy' by virtue of being the loudest.
  14. Soundself Blog - "GAME_JAM" and the Power of Integrity
    Matti had secured the sponsorship with Pepsi, so even if he was fired, choosing to stay would help save his reputation.
  15. Adriel Wallick blog - Let's talk about accountability
    You can literally trace back the entire crumbling of this show to one individual – Matti Leshem, CEO of Protagonist, a Brand Energy company... He is the one who headed up removing even un-labeled water bottles from being allowed on our desks. He is the one I heard asking around if there was any way that we could drink the water out of empty Mountain Dew cans.
  16. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    But no one, not a single person there, expected Matti to push the stuff so unnaturally, barring any drink that wasn't water or Dew from being consumed while the cameras were rolling. Even the development manna that is coffee was barred from set, and if anyone wanted some, they had to leave their workstations and get it... Davey was forced to take off his nail polish because he couldn’t hold the can with it on. Zoe had to take off the buttons she usually wears on her jacket, but shouted down a PA who tried to make her cover her tattoos. The Arcane Kids were screamed at for not holding bottles right, while the entire group was lectured on how to properly smile like you’re enjoying the product – a product that everyone was enjoying less and less.
  17. Adriel Wallick blog - Let's talk about accountability
    I was underneath a Mountain Dew sign, watching a team win their Mountain Dew lawn chairs where they could sip on their brand new Dew Pack of Mountain Dew... The product placement and forcing of the brand onto us was over the top. I understand who was sponsoring it and where the money to produce this event was coming from, but when I am no longer allowed to have easy access to water in order to hydrate myself after sweating under bright lights for hours because it wasn't Mountain Dew, then we have a problem.
  18. Soundself Blog - "GAME_JAM" and the Power of Integrity
    The hours that I’d expected we’d be able to spend making something we could stamp our names upon were instead siphoned off to polish a lie. 'Back to one, look more surprised and excited for the grand prize of a year supply of Mountain Dew.'
  19. Adriel Wallick blog - Let's talk about accountability
    Every prize for our mini 'challenges' was a branded prize (dew colored lawn chairs, cases of Mountain Dew, etc). Even the grand prize – a year’s supply of Mountain Dew, a trip to a Mountain Dew sponsored extreme sport event in Breckenridge, CO
  20. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    The first shots of the day went smoothly. JonTron, Markiplier, Sam Strippin and CaptainSparklez were attached to their respective teams, and the whole procession was moved out to the competition floor with what was honestly a buzz of cautious excitement.
  21. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    JonTron and Zoe butting heads was something I was worried about from the second I saw their team line-up. Tensions were high, and everyone was out of their element, but if any two personalities weren't going to gel, it was them. And they didn't, to the surprise of nobody, but the pair quickly left to talk in the hall, instead of letting it sour the group dynamic.
  22. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    The second their feet left the competition floor, however, something happened that I didn't expect: cameras. Cameras from every angle and direction... and all of it filmed for what would likely be some of that legal 'misrepresentation.' Zoe was horrified... The potential backlash of being 'the bitch with a beef against JonTron' was all at once shockingly real, and by even having it on film, the risk for a fight to be cut into the show began to grow on everyone’s mind. Jon didn't want that. Zoe definitely didn't want that. Serrato, Umetani and the many producers spectating didn't want that, and it went against everything game jams stood for - but Matti pushed the angle.
  23. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    And as the challenge went on, we discovered that he had cornered Jon in a room to try and get him to speak poorly of Zoe, the only negative 'story' they could muster out of all fifteen contestants. Jon’s a nice dude. That interview attempt failed, with the result of making him furious.
  24. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    The rigs were the same ones I use to capture game footage for reviews, normally fairly powerful machines able to handle huge processing loads, but someone had filled them with unregistered copies of Premiere and flooded everything with viruses. One machine instantly crashed when the USC team tried to plug a USB stick into it, halting production for almost an hour as assistants scrambled to purchase licenses and wipe the malware.
  25. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    There was will left to go on, but it was fading fast... then, once again, Matti. 'Two of the other teams have women on them. Do you think they're at a disadvantage?' Silence. It was like the wind was sucked out of the room behind the barrier, but the floor was so loud, only the two all-male teams heard the question.
  26. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    Mark answered diplomatically that the teams actually had a huge advantage by having more viewpoints, though everyone was strong regardless because of their skill. Matti cut him off, pulled back the camera, and coughed, 'Stop filming. We're not getting a story here.' It went on down the line. Is Zoe off her game? Are women coders a disadvantage to their groups? Point by point, the questions were shot down, until he reached Adriel’s team and asked if they were at any sort of advantage by having a pretty girl with them.
  27. Adriel Wallick blog - Let's talk about accountability
    The two all male teams were questioned in a similar fashion: 'Do you think the teams with women on them are at a disadvantage?'
  28. Soundself Blog - "GAME_JAM" and the Power of Integrity
    Matti: 'Do you think you’re at an advantage because you have a pretty lady on your team?' I declined to answer. He pressed. Adriel curtly told him that his question was offensive.
  29. Adriel Wallick blog - Let's talk about accountability
    He is also the one who asked my team the following question: 'Do you think you’re at an advantage because you have a pretty girl on your team?' All love to my teammates as they declined to engage. But, after pushing more – he got a rise out of me.
  30. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    Matti once more pulled back his camera, making sure to privately half-apologize that he 'marched with the women in the '70s' with 'flowers in his hair.'
  31. Adriel Wallick blog - Let's talk about accountability
    He had the audacity to approach me later and explain that it wasn’t personal. This wasn’t a personal attack on me – he knew this was a sensitive topic in the industry and wanted to address it.
  32. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    Finally, he cornered Zoe with a camera as everyone left for dinner, trying one last time to get a rise out of her. She told him to go fuck himself and marched off set. And that is precisely when everyone else realized something was wrong.
  33. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    Zoe pulled me aside with Davey and Tom as she demanded Matti’s head on a stick. Adriel was livid. Robin wanted blood. And as the developers shared experiences the others didn't know about, a strange thing began to happen between them that at once solidified what games are all about and doomed Polaris and Maker’s program. They formed ranks and revolted.
  34. Soundself Blog - "GAME_JAM" and the Power of Integrity
    Zoe was out because her ethical code wouldn’t indulge the hippocracy of staying. Adriel was out because she didn't feel she could safely be herself on the set. Davey Wreden... was out because he was there to support Zoe, and wasn't interested in participating without her. Being asked if I was definitely out made me query myself... Zoe’s impassioned articulation of the problem as she saw it reminded me of my own values and gave me the courage to make them a priority.
  35. Adriel Wallick blog - Let's talk about accountability
    After airing our grievances with the production, there were four of us who immediately dropped out. Me and the other woman as well as one person from each of our respective teams. The rest tried to salvage what was there, but the four of us were out.
  36. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    The rest of the night was an odd blur of Polaris folks, Maker production staff and YouTubers trying to wrap their heads around what was happening... Many folks tried to offer compromises or change the programming bloc entirely to game development.
  37. Soundself Blog - "GAME_JAM" and the Power of Integrity
    There was debate about what to do, and counter-debate over what degree we could even trust Maker Studio (the YouTube giant that owns Polaris – now a subsidiary of Disney) to follow through on our demands. Possible solutions were aired, and while we had an honest space to communicate, we didn't get a clear solution until one of the developers asked for a show of hands of who was definitely leaving.
  38. Adriel Wallick blog - Let's talk about accountability
    After we left the show, the producers, content managers, and countless others involved in the production of the series tried to work through a way to get us back to finish the jam. Though many of the immediate concerns were addressed (e.g. Matti was removed from the project) and they offered to completely restructure the event, the point remained – there was once a person there who destroyed everything.
  39. Indie Statik - How The Most Expensive Game Jam In History Crashed And Burned In A Single Day
    A lot of heavy shit came out, and by the end of it all, Maker, Polaris and the developer teams had said their peace and resolved to move forward... later. Polaris had a good idea, and their people had won everyone over with their dedication and perseverance to getting game development out there where people could see it. Maker could make that happen. Zoe and Davey spoke to some of the higher-ups and figured out a hypothetical compromise way down the line, one that would stay true to the original spirit of the show, and while it didn't fix the leveled production now, it was at least something.
  40. Adriel Wallick blog - Let's talk about accountability
    The day that followed was a constant stream of the production team offering up new ideas on how to ‘fix’ the situation. Each offer was slightly more desperate than the last, as it came to light throughout the day just how grim their situation was.
  41. Zoe Quinn blog - Unreality: My Takeaways After Being On and Subsequently Walking Off a Reality Show About Game Jams
    My most tangible takeaway is probably this: I want to run a game jam. Not now, but after pax east and after I've recharged a bit. I’d like to find charismatic Let’s Play people, a couple of video cameras, a huge + cheap rent-able house, and a group of indies. I’d love to have the LPers do what they’re so often so brilliant at and bridge the gap between the games and the audience, and do it super low-tech, low-budget, documentary style. Capture the inspiration, the hard work, the 3 am delirium and the dumb jokes that come with it. Show people how we all band together and support each other through the deadline. That’s what I want to show the world about game jams.
  42. Rebel Jam
  43. Overview for rebelgamejam.com