JamToday the educational Game Jam, interview with Matteo Uggeri

JamToday Game Jam Belgium

JamToday Game Jam, Genk, Belgium. Photo by Veerle Van der Sluys

After the wonderful experience of the Game Jam Zurich Milan, organized by us (Playing The Game), together with Ludicious – Zurich Game Festival, we are continuing the discussion about these formidable collaboration and growth opportunities, known as Game Jam, thanks to the interview with Matteo Uggeri (Fondazione Politecnico di Milano), who is handling the organization of the JamToday project in Italy.

We have already stressed the importance of Game Jam and Hackathon as opportunities for dialogue and learning.
What is a Game Jam? Read the answer →

JamToday is an initiative funded by the European Union. It applying the classic Game Jam’s 48 hour formula, adding some interesting variations. The aim of the project is to promote videogame as a teaching tool for training. In order to pursue this scope, Game Jams are been held in several European countries.

For the first time, in September 2015, this initiative is going to hit Italy, with two simultaneous events in Milan and Turin, focusing on Health & Wellbeing and Healthy Eating topics, so closed to the EXPO Milano 2015 main theme.
By the way, read about our Game Conference at EXPO Milano 2015 →

We at Playing The Game, will be involved in the project in several ways, including taking part in the jury, evaluating the games produced during the Milanese edition of the Jam. This event takes place September 18–20, at the prestigious Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci.

The JamToday project is broad, and we will discover it with you, thanks to this interview by Paolo Branca, to Matteo Uggeri, Senior Project Manager at the Fondazione Politecnico di Milano.

Hi Matteo, we know that you have been trained as a designer and you are active in different creative fields, could you introduce your profile and activities?

Hi Paolo, first of all thank you for this interview and for your support to JamToday!
I studied design at the Politecnico di Milano. At the time my educational programme was called “Industrial Design”, but I followed the Multimedia Communication specialization, that means images, sounds and videos. I’m continuing to explore the most creative side of this academic study through my experimental music projects, in which I’m also in charge of the graphic communication. Professionally, I have worked at the Politecnico di Milano and now I’m at the Fondazione Politecnico di Milano.
I’m specialized in the so-called ‘e-Learning’, even though I prefer to talk about educational innovation – technology applied to learning and collaboration. I’m investigated these topics for over 15 years and some of my researches are specifically focused on educational games.

JamToday is described as the leading European network dedicated to applied game design, what is the meaning and purpose of this network?

Actually, there are other networks about applied (or ‘serious’) games, but the novelty of JamToday is precisely to tie educational games with the Game Jam concept. In this perspective, we can consider this network truly unique. The idea of creating JamToday, came to our colleagues at the University of the Arts Utrecht (Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht, HKU), in the Netherlands, which coordinate the entire project and have a great experience in Game Jam’s field. With them we would like to set up a stable and sustainable network that supports those who work in education (school teachers, universities, but also vocational schools) in the design and implementation of educational games. The core of this project is the Game Jam concept.

The next event of JamToday will be held during the third weekend of September. Could you tell us what it is?

It’s a Game Jam where participants will create and implement games about eating and healthy lifestyle. We want to reward games that are not only functional, innovative and well done in terms of graphics, usability, sounds and so on; we are looking to games that express an idea, a message, games that teach something about eating in the right way as a fundamental element of health.
Usually, in traditional Game Jams, participants create ‘normal’ games, aimed ‘only’ to entertainment, however many games, as you already know, offer much more than pure entertainment. In our event participants will design and create videogames with a strong educational foundation: it’s not a simple task, but the applied (or serious) games market is in full swing now and games are used in many different contexts.

What will could be the future of the applied/serious games’ market and what are the benefits for those who took part in the Jam?

The first question is difficult to answer, but there will be many opportunities in this market for sure. I come from the educational area, and the educational games’ theme is getting hotter and increasingly interesting for companies, universities and schools. I think that, in the near future, will happen ever more often to study without realizing it, by playing videogames and to play videogames without realizing it, while study.

The benefits of taking part in this event are many. Participants learn to work in team within short deadlines, to develop creativity, they meet new people who share the same interests, and ultimately they will learn a lot. Moreover JamToday’s mentors and jurors work for well known game companies: Coffee Tree Studio, Digital Bros Game Academy, DP Studios, Event Horizon, PlaySys, Testa Luna, Videogameslab, Wacom and, of course, Playing the Game!
Also, as a media partners, we have Console Generation, The Games Machine, Games Collection, Lucca Comics & Games, Mamamò and Mimos… well I bet there will be something to learn and gain for sure.
And it will be fun, guaranteed!

What is required to participate in the next Game Jam?

Very little. We believe in the BYOD (Bryng Your Own Device) philosophy, that means everybody should bring his own computer. Everybody can use the hardware and software they prefer, although some of our sponsors will offer the opportunity to use their workstations and related software. In order to partecipate isn’t necessarily to be a programmer, since games can also be developed with simple applications like Scratch. Obviously programmers can use advance languages like C++ or whatever they want. The Jam is also open to 2D and 3D artists, musicians, writers, graphic designers and so on…
This Jam required creativity, patience, tenacity and inventiveness!
Last but not least, the games should be educative, likely the winning game will be a very simple one, but with a strong ability to raise awareness around the healthy eating theme.

Thanks to Matteo Uggeri for this great interview, we are looking forward to participate to JamToday. It is a precious opportunity, and would surely be a pity not to participate.

See you on Friday, September 18 at the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, participation is free of charge, you just need to register to the event →