Introducing Koia Jam: Aotearoa’s values and principles driven game-jam

The New Zealand Game Developers Association and the US Mission to Aotearoa New Zealand are partnering together to create Koia Jam, a game jam competition devised to stimulate New Zealand to think about anti-bullying, anti-harassment, and anti-disinformation online.

While there are long-standing policies, infrastructure, and regulations in place to ensure the safety of children on playgrounds and in vehicles, there is little in the way of safeguards for online places where young people are spending an ever growing amount of time. This has led to a proliferation of disinformation, misinformation and online cyberbullying over the past few decades, and has had innumerable consequences for mental health.

Video games have long been a place for learning, social exchange, and building connections with people online, and its potential for driving social change has only recently been explored.. Games like “Concrete Genie” and organisations like Games for Change have empowered a new generation of game creators and social innovators to combat toxic online cultures.

“Stimulating social change through media is incredibly difficult, but there are few mediums more suited to the challenge than games. Koia Jam will provide an opportunity for people to explore the themes of misinformation and online safety in an engaging way and to spark critical thinking on complex issues” says NZGDA Chairperson Chelsea Rapp.

Koia Jam is a 48 hour game jam, a time-limited hack-a-thon where small teams attempt to create a playable game over a single weekend. Game Jam competitions can be intensely social experiences, relying on close, functional teamwork.

“Bullying and the spreading of disinformation are global challenges, including in the gaming world. These are some of the biggest obstacles to being online nowadays in both Aotearoa New Zealand and the United States. We are proud to partner with NZGDA for Koia Jam 2022 to spread a message of positivity and inclusion online. Let’s play games and have fun together,” says U.S. Ambassador Tom Udall.

Taking place from November 25-27, Koia Jam also features a series of web interviews with New Zealand game developers who discuss the idea of driving social change through game development. These can be found on the NZGDA facebook page. Learn more about Koia Jam or register your team by visiting Koia.nz.