Tripoli Game Jam
For the first time in Tripoli, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF), in partnership with Arab Arcade and Shift, organized an unparalleled weekend of game development for 30 young men and women to shed light on common social issues burdening our youth today.
Organized by Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) and in partnership with Arab Arcade, a community organization that aims to strengthen the game development community in Lebanon and the region, and Shift, a community center for social entrepreneurship and innovation in Qbeh in Tripoli, the Tripoli Game Jam brought together 30 highly motivated youth from all around Tripoli for an exciting weekend of game developing and networking.
From Friday, 25th of August to Sunday, 27th of August 2017, the participants received an introduction to social and educational games by illustrator Hind Chammas and an overview of liberal values by Dr.Dany Ghsoub, Political Science professor at Notre-Dame-University (NDU). Belal Ayoubi and Hani Al-Rstoum, co-founders of Shift, addressed the challenges that the communities in Tripoli face and presented four main themes of the event: economic opportunity, education, health and human rights.
In partnership with Arab Arcade’s CEO Raja Riachi and Shift’s Co-Founder Omar Assaf, the event was organized by FNF’s Project Coordinator, Sofia Koller. FNFis the German foundation for liberal politics that promotes individual freedom and liberalism in cooperation with local partners through civic education, international political dialogue and political counseling programs.
The Tripoli Game Jamwas the first event of its kind to focus on the so-called social games: games that are fun but have the objective to create awareness around a social issue or provoke thought on controversial debates such as preventing drop-out, drug addiction and child abuse.
“Gaming and game development, for us, are tools to bring together youth from various backgrounds around common concerns. We wanted to highlight the potential that Tripoli’s youth hold and the fact that Qbeh offers a space for everyone to learn and grow,” said Sofia Koller. The venue for the event, Shift,is located directly on the former frontline between the neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen, Bab el-Tabaneh and Qbeh that have long experienced violent conflict and still suffer consequences such as high (youth) unemployment and drop-out rates.
The event introduced values such as individual freedom and tolerance to both Lebanese and Syrian youth by bringing them together in a dynamic environment. In just over 48 hours, they created their own idea by translating a challenge into a digital game and then learned how to develop the game with the support of experienced mentors from Arab Arcade (Rawad Sarkis and Ali Hammoud) either through no-coding tools such as RPG-Maker or coding tools such as Unity or Unreal.
A special feature of the jam was the level-up system: Throughout the weekend, the participants completed 6 different 'levels' and received stickers for each level completed, such as a coding training. After the final pitching on Sunday, all participants were awarded an official certificate for them to take home. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback from all participants about their gaming experience, particularly from the new comers to this field of innovation, and even more notably, about the opportunity they received to meet young leaders in their field and exchange conversations over an intense and fun weekend.
All participants walked out as winners from this jam, but they also have a chance to offer special recognition for the efforts of their peers whose game ideas stood out.