The horrible Game Jam reality show that almost was

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If there’s one platform that just doesn’t get gaming, it has to be TV. From outlandish episodes where actors jam controller buttons like a monkey on a typewriter, to gamers being able to hack anything attached to a plug, the view of gaming and the industry around it is rather skewed. And proposed TV shows like this, didn’t help either.

Ever heard of a Game Jam? The concept is simple really. Grab several game development teams, throw them into a room and watch them code through blood, sweat and tears over a couple of days to produce a game in record time. Such events have created some magnificent prototypes for games, and when filmed and edited correctly, makes for some great viewing.

Which is where the show Game_Jam came in, a proposed $400 000 realty series that would take place over such an event and capture the thrills and heartache of creating time-limited games. That was until the various developers and YouTube personalities found out what they were in for.

Game_Jam would have starred the likes of Davey “The Stanley Parable” Wreden, Mark “Nidhogg” Essen, Zoe “Depression Quest” Quinn and more notable indie developers. But much like everything else in life, there was a catch, as Eurogamer found out.

Adriel Wallick described the pitch on her blog for the show, as the following:

“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.”

Mainstream recognition and proof that not all games were murder simulators! What could possibly go wrong? Plenty actually.

As a sponsored show, by Mountain Dew, of all the infamous gaming beverages out there, participants were required to shill the hell out of that brand. Things quickly escalated, when Wallick explained that not even bottled water was allowed on the set, as everyone had to drink that carbonated piss instead. “The product placement and forcing of the brand onto us was over the top,” Wallick explained.

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.

From there, it just got worse:

Davey was forced to take off his nail polish because he couldn’t hold the can with it on,” wrote freelance journalist and Polaris contributor Jared Rosen in his harrowing expose on the fiasco for IndieStatik. “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.

Things spiralled even further out of control on the sole day of shooting, with the CEO of brand energy company Protagonist, Matti Leshem trying to create an angle for the show about female developers being disadvantaged because of reasons.

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Throw in the Draconian contracts, which would have had the show throw in unnecessary amounts of misrepresented drama, restrictive appearances that would have resulted in a loss of revenue for the YouTube personalities, and tempers were already one straw away from flaring up as the show’s initial integrity was compromised.

So what did everyone involved in the show do? Simple. They walked out on the series, deciding that it wasn’t worth the stress and heartache.

“I came into this event expecting to make a game, show people a glimpse into game development, and possibly have some fun,” Wallick wrote.

Instead, my intelligence, my legitimacy, and my integrity were all pushed and questioned. We, as developers, were being treated as desperate stereotypes, and we, as women, were treated worse than that.

There’s a ton more of the absolute clusterf**k that the show was, in the original link. It’s worth a read if you have the time. Now to go propose a new show to the SABC wherein people who incorrectly hold video game controllers are forced to play mortal Kombat…for their actual lives.

Last Updated: April 2, 2014

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia's M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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