Rainbow Jam ’16 was a game jam held between August 20, 2016 and September 5, 2016 and run by Steven Taarland. The jam was designed to promote the ideals of the development group, which are to celebrate and promote diversity in games and the game industry.
The theme of the jam was “identity,” and although it was not necessary that groups adhere to this theme or make games about queer diversity, many of the games did explore these topics. All games that featured queer themes have been given entries on Queerly Represent Me and can be found on the Rainbow Jam ’16 database page.
Starting small, the game jam quickly expanded with the help of collaborators and sponsors, with more than thirty entries submitted before the deadline. More information about the jam and those associated with it can be found on Itch.io.
The winners of Rainbow Jam ’16’s five prizes were announced on September 23, 2016. They included a community prize (voted on by the community); a technical prize (based on innovative mechanics); an artistic prize (for a game with a unique art style); and two best game prizes for an individual and group submission, respectively (based on overall game polish and dedication to the theme).
Who Am I? by Sir_Obvious
As you traverse platforms in Who Am I?, you walk over pylons that encourage you to reflect on your sexuality, your identity, and your life outside the dreamlike space that you are inhabiting. The game received the most votes from the community, likely due to its cute art style and impressive overall polish.
Story of Everyone by Citizen Of Mêlée
The interesting and innovative experience of Story of Everyone is that the character your create — using your own images, text, and sounds from your microphone — exists within the game world for those who play after you so that they can also interact with them. It reflects on the idea of identity by asking you to create your own distinct character and see how they exist within the world.
Where is my mummy by wallmasterr
In Where is my mummy, you play as a platypus looking for their mother. The game explores identity through metaphor, with the platypus encountering a number of animals who appear similar to them during their journey. The artistic style of the game is quite unique, with adorable 3D models and beautiful water textures.
Sava by subpixel
With all the retro charm of a 16-bit adventure game, Sava features a same-gender couple. Adrijan must save his partner Damir from the magic that is occurring in the forest where they live. Together, they fight creatures with an axe and fireballs. The narrative is the premise of a longer story, and I hope that subpixel is considering developing the game further.
Jimmy Divided by AndrewBeattie, StephenAudio45, lucaslam, & Daniel Hayes
In Jimmy Divided, the player character’s identity grows and shifts as the player journeys through different worlds, acquiring new skills and magic. The art style is gorgeous and the platforming involves some unique mechanics.
In addition to the winners of Rainbow Jam ’16, there were some games that particularly resonated with me. One of these was Memoriae by Brizee and Fentlegen. Memoriae is a relatively short gaming experience, but it feels complete in a way game jam creations often don’t. It explores how identity shifts through the positive and negative experiences of time.
Another game I particularly enjoyed was _Blank by Vilestylez, which asks the player questions as they traverse platforms. These questions reflect those we often ask ourselves about the identity and abilities of the character we are embodying within a new game, and these can reflect the questions we ask of our own identities.
The Call by Jamwillinob also intrigued me, mostly due to its innovative mechanics. In the game, you enter a spooky house and, although the control scheme begins with A moving the player-character left and D moving them right, these controls can change as you collect letters within the house. It really messes with your sense of direction and is much harder than it sounds.
Overall, I was impressed by the calibre of games produced for Rainbow Jam ’16 and am grateful to have been involved. I highly recommend checking out all of the entries, as well as letting their hardworking developers know if you enjoy the experience. They all deserve a pat on the back for their two weeks of very hard work!