Last year, visual novel developers Carrogath and XenobladeKat hosted Yuri Game Jam from September 1, 2015 to October 31, 2015. Their premise was simple enough: in two months, develop a game about two or more women in a relationship with one another. The jam was a major success, with over 40 entries submitted to the Yuri Game Jam itch.io page, featuring everything from dating sims to platformers to top-down beat ‘em ups about women and their girlfriends.
Yuri Game Jam struck a cord in the gaming community, and it was clear early on that there was a real hunger for games about queer relationships. It also showed that stories about queer women could come from any genre: be it slice-of-life or romance, science-fiction or fantasy—any and every setting is perfect for exploring queer relationships in gaming.
But Carrogath and XenobladeKat’s game jam wasn’t just popular with gamers, either. It was also popular with queer women.
You see, representation is important in the video game industry. As LGBTQIA+ players, we want to be able to log into Steam, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, or the Nintendo eShop and know that there are games available that feature us as main characters. Being able to look in the mirror and see yourself is a very powerful thing, and video games lend themselves well to building representation. So it makes perfect sense that Yuri Game Jam was so successful among women who identify as LGBTQIA+. The jam gave us a voice in the gaming industry.
The Sweetest Game Jam: Sugar, Sweets, & Jam
As queer gamers, we want to see ourselves in the games we play. So why not make a few games of our own? This is the basic premise behind FemHype’s upcoming game jam: Sugar, Sweets, & Jam.
The rules are simple enough, really. In three months, participants have to create a game that features two things: a queer relationship of some sort, and sweets. Whether it’s a pair of gumdrop girlfriends going out on an ice cream float date, or a curious case of a missing cookie platter among a group of four boyfriends, Sugar, Sweets, & Jam will be all about LGBTQIA+ characters spending time with one another and enjoying sugary foods. As long as it’s sweet, and as long as it’s queer, it belongs here!
Why sweets, you might ask? Well, queer life can be difficult. Sometimes, it can be downright scary or sad. It’s easy to focus on the hardships and struggles of everyday life when you’re LGBTQIA+, to the point where we only talk about the negatives. But sweets are a little different. They’re delicious, mouth-watering, delectable, and downright adorable. More importantly, they’re all about treating yourself, and enjoying life around you, too.
You see, we chose sweets because we wanted our developers and players to focus on something positive—not just in game development, but in everyday life. And there’s nothing to brighten a day like a warm cup of hot chocolate, a peppermint sundae, or a box of cupcakes. Queer life can have its sad moments, sure, but it’s also something to be proud of—so it’s important to celebrate it through something sweet!
Submitting to the Jam
So, are you interested in submitting to Sugar, Sweets, & Jam’s upcoming itch.io page? That’s excellent! There’s a few guidelines of course, but they’re simple enough:
- The jam itself will start January 21, 2016 and end April 30, 2016. Brainstorming and drafting can begin any time, but game assets (i.e. scripts, in-game art, composed music, etc.) have to be created during the jam period.
- No experience is necessary—anyone is welcome to submit. Just keep in mind that submissions will be judged for two things: fitting the basic criteria, and observing FemHype’s general guidelines. After all, we want Sugar, Sweets, & Jam to be an inclusive space for our readers, and that includes our developers, too.
- Don’t let the term “game jam” fool you, either—virtually anything is up for grabs for Sugar, Sweets, & Jam’s submission page. As long as you’re developing something interactive, you’re welcome to submit. That includes: kinetic visual novels, Twines, interactive comics, choose your own adventure passages, and more! The important thing here is to create something interactive that tells the story you want to share.
- Sugar, Sweets, & Jam will certainly deal with issues like gender identity, sexuality, love while queer, and discrimination in everyday life. Some games might deal with these themes implicitly, others might be more explicit. Both are perfectly fine, just make sure to clarify on your submission page that your game is 18+ and/or NSFW.
- Lastly, perhaps you want to submit, but you’ve never developed a game before? Or you’d like to work on a game, but as a writer or artist? On the upcoming itch.io page, we will be opening a community forum for participants to chat with one another. On there, you can talk about your project ideas and invite others to join the team or collaborate. If you’re not really comfortable using itch.io or want to get a head start, that’s fine, too! Feel free to use the space below as an open thread to meet up with other FemHype developers and hash out your ideas.
Anyway, that’s all for now! The start of Sugar, Sweets, & Jam is rapidly approaching, and we can’t wait to see what you cook up in the coming months ahead. Keep an eye out on FemHype’s Tumblr and Twitter for more updates—there’s still more info to come in the weeks ahead—and if you have any other questions, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jillian at email@example.com.
Otherwise, here’s to the start of an exciting and productive game jam!