Game Jam 2016


 Games for Change: Like a Refugee

One of the biggest news issues of the last few years has been the refugee crisis spawned by the civil war in Syria. Politicians and citizens alike have wrestled with the questions of how to accommodate refugees into Canada, how to integrate them into our communities—and how we can better understand the traumas and conflicts they are escaping.

The life-and-death issue of refugees would seem to be the farthest thing possible from a game. And yet “gamification” has emerged as a tool to engage a new generation to care about important social issues — to change their attitudes so they take action.

On March 12, you can explore how games might help us all understand the complex realities of the global refugee crisis and Canada’s role in it. UVic and high-school students, teachers and anyone else with a curiosity about the subject are all invited to participate in a four-hour “game jam“. In small groups, you will work to a deadline to generate ideas, mock-up prototypes and begin to create “newsgames” or “serious games” or “games for change” that will help players build empathy and understand the challenges of the refugee crisis and the acculturation of new arrivals to Canada.

Participants will be mentored by video-game designer Ashley Blacquiere and war-simulation boardgame designer Brian Train, and receive a briefing about the refugee crisis from local experts in Greater Victoria.

The Gam Jam will run (roughly) from 10:00 am till 2:00 pm on Saturday, March 12, in the MacLaurin Building D111 (where you can write on the walls!). There will be a chance to play-test and refine prototypes for a couple hours and then a special ceremony to acknowledge all participants at the end of the entire day at 4:30 pm. Lunch, prizes and all the tools needed to make a game will be included. (Bring your own laptop if you’re interested in making a digital game.)

Want to take part? You don’t need to know anything about making games or the refugee crisis — you will learn enough about each topic to participate. You just need a curious mind, a creative spirit and a love of collaborative problem-solving and creativity. Drop us a query at or sign up right now via this Google Form!