Arcade Jam (2019)
Event in Shenzhen, China

Arcade Jam (2019)

Event in Shenzhen, China

In 2019 I headed to Shenzhen, China where I co-organized and ran an Arcade Jam, a three-day hardware focused game jam, at hackerspace and community education center STEAMhead.

Six months before, we had run into challenges right away. The first website I made for the event was hosted on Glitch and wouldn't reliably load in China. We needed a way for people to sign up and get updates, but quickly realized that the usual go-tos such as Eventbrite and email lists weren't an option. In the end, the solution wasn’t to find a Chinese version of Eventbrite, but to instead lean on WeChat. We created a WeChat group to organize and communicate with attendees, and did all of our marketing through local WeChat groups connected to STEAMhead. Instead of a website, we distributed a PDF translated into both Mandarin and English.

We had no idea how many of our sign-ups would actually make it to the event. Many participants were coming from Hong Kong and this was mid-November, the height of government response to the ongoing protests. We ended up having 35 people join with an amazing diversity of backgrounds, including teachers, game developers, musicians, and others. We included brainstorming sessions, icebreakers, and a Saturday morning tour of the Shenzhen Electronics Market, the world’s largest, to get components for games.

Touring the world's largest electronics market
Finding parts for our games
Working back in STEAMhead
Playing and sharing games

The event ended with five finished games, a community arcade night, and amazing conversations about the nexus of making and education.

Arcade Jam organizers and participants