Jamming for charity: Announcing War Child’s HELP game jam

Sure game jams are fun. At this point everyone knows it. But what if jams were something more? What if jams could help with real world issues. War Child is a charity that works with children in some of the most dangerous parts of the world and –as of last year– are game jam hosts. War Child’s annual HELP game jam is one part traditional game jam, one part charity fundraiser, and all parts important.

As a part of this jam I got to ask War Child’s Adam Holmes about the jam itself, the charity, and their relationships with developers.

First off, what is War Child?

War Child is a specialist child protection charity working in countries devastated by conflict. War Child UK are providing life-changing support to the most vulnerable children whose lives, families and communities have been torn apart by war.Whether it’s helping Syrian children access education, rehabilitating ex-child soldiers in the Central African Republic or

seeking justice for young people detained in Afghanistan. Our work helps to give affected children their childhood back and the chance to build a better future for themselves.

What is the Help Charity Game Jam?

‘HELP’ is War Child UK’s charity game jam project. We challenge some of the leading gaming studios around the world to spend no more than 6 days on building a game for War Child. We look for a variety of studios and games to come from this game jam, games built do not have to link directly to our work, what we’re hoping to see are innovative and enjoyable games to play. Once the game jams have been completed, we will release the games as a bundle on the app store(s), with all net proceeds raised going to War Child. We are currently finalising the monetisation for this project, but it is likely gamers will be able to buy all chosen games for a fixed price.

You did this last year, what have the results been from that jam?

Last year was the first year we ran the ‘HELP’ game jam project and we were blown away by the support we received from gaming studios. 2016’s project saw 11 studios participate; Bossa Studios, Creative Assembly, Curve Digital, Hardlight, Modern Dream, Rovio Sweden AB, Spilt Milk Studios, Sports Interactive, Sumo Digital, Team 17 and Torn Banner. We were delighted with the games that came out of the project and they motivated us to aim to go bigger this year, focusing on the mobile platform so we can reach a wider audience.

Where are the proceeds of this jam going?

The proceeds raised will go to funding War Child UK’s work, delivering high impact programmes across Africa and the Middle-East. Our projects range from providing e-learning to Syrian child refugees in Jordan, to protecting street girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our work doesn’t stop here though, we invest in developing robust monitoring and evaluation systems so that we ensure our programmes are effective and impactful. We are also proud to invest in

advocacy, championing the rights of children living in conflict and raising awareness of the impact of conflict on children’s mental health. As an organisation transparency is crucial, so we have created this microsite to provide a full breakdown.

What can developers do to support this jam?

We are really excited to open up our ‘HELP’ project to the Itch community. We are looking for a variety of games to come from this game jam, so seemed like the perfect place to turn for creative, innovative indie games. If you can spend up to 6 days between August 1st and November 1st, we would love for you to participate in ‘HELP’. We have a panel of judges

who will be reviewing the games, and the winning game will be included on app stores alongside some of the biggest names in gaming!

What do you hope to achieve through the jam?

We hope that this game jam will produce a number of exciting games that mobile audiences will be eager to download and love to play. We feel fun, innovative games will be best to win over mobile gamers and motivate them to donate to War Child in return for the game experience.

What do you want people to take away from this project?

Game jams are a fantastic way to engage the developer and gaming communities, we want developers to come away from this knowing that they can make a real impact with their skillset. On top of this, we feel that it is important to champion gaming as a medium. Gaming and gamers can make a real contribution to causes around the world, and at War Child games are directly helping children in countries devastated by conflict.

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