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Odyssey Jam – a follow up #WaterRead

May 19, 2017


In March, as part of Read Watch Play, we ran Odyssey Jam, a themed digital game jam with a literary twist. The idea behind it was to encourage people to create a text based game or piece of interactive fiction based on Homer’s The Odyssey over a 2 week period. One of the purposes of the game jam was to tie in with libraries’ core objectives of supporting literacy and supporting the development of readers and writers.

After the 2 week period we encouraged entrants to upload their entries to so that others could play them. Anyone around the world was able to enter, and at the end of the game jam we had 10 entries, including entries from people who had…

  • Never made a game before!
  • Never created a piece of interactive fiction before!
  • Never been involved in a game jam before!

It was great to see such a variety of style and content in the entries and how each developer had interpreted the theme – no 2 were the same. Some game developers chose to create pure text games (ie The Long Ing Blink; Islands and Witches), other focused on creating entries that were more visual but still included text (ie Taith; A flower from Hermes). There were humourous games (ie 108 suitors; The Perils of Penelope), games set in their original setting, and others re-set the Odyssey in a new context (ie Come Back Home; Hyperions Wake).

Game developers were also encouraged to share their work in progress on Twitter as well, and a few did just that, and it was great to see how their games were taking shape and how enthusiastic they were about their involvement in the jam.

A college in Milan also encouraged students on their creative writing course to participate and a couple of their entries were submitted to the jam.

It was great that this literary theme capture people’s interest.

I’m also aware that at least one of the developers is still continuing to develop their game, Hyperion’s Wake.

As part of Odyssey Jam we also encouraged entrants to make use of digitised images on Flickr that The British Library had released under a creative commons license [link]. We pulled together a small collection of ancient Greece themed images from the much larger collection. A couple of entries made use of these images (ie No one; 108 suitors)

The games are still available to play online, so please try them out and share.

You can also watch short play-throughs of the entries thanks to video game blogger Jupiter Hadley.

Emily Short also wrote about the game jam.

Thanks to all the game developers who got involved in Odyssey Jam (it was fun playing the entries), and thanks too to all who helped promote it.

Gary Green (Surrey Libraries)

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