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Just Play: A Game Jam For Justice unveils finalists today, winners to be announced at SXSW 2024

Just Play: A Game Jam for Justice, an official SXSW 2024 games event co-created by Cinereach and Anima Interactive, will announce the winners from its global games contest with an awards ceremony March 9, 2024, 7:30pm CT at SXSW 2024 (Thompson Hotel). The Just Play event will be hosted by Akeem Lawanson, IGN host and content creator, along with a special musical performance from OFK, a virtual LA-based band. Register to attend the Just Play awards celebration at SXSW 2024. For those not attending SXSW, the Just Play awards ceremony will also be live-streamed on Twitch. 

Earlier this year, indie video game developers from around the world participated in a month-long game jam to create experiences that focused on systemic injustice. 

Just Play: A Game Jam for Justice challenged developers to tell stories in innovative ways, pushing boundaries, inspiring new perspectives, and using new game mechanics. Submissions were reviewed by esteemed jurors and industry heavyweights from established publishers like ustwo games, Xbox, and Netflix Games. The Just Play finalists will also be featured at the SXSW Creative Industries Expo (booth 1037) and include these standouts: 

  • Are you Listening? by Eloise Best (Health, Technology) 
  • Crossing Lines by Other Path (Health, Community) 
  • Drawing Up Dust by Team Replenishers (Community, Ecology) 
  • In the Shadow of the Sun by AngelFish (Economy, Community)
  • Pip Pepper Park Planner by Pip Squad (Ecology, Community) 
  • Um Al-Zaytoun by Qadar (Post-colonial, Ecology)

“As someone actively involved in the games industry, it’s extremely exciting to see ideas that explore justice themes in compelling ways. I haven’t seen this at the forefront of the gaming community,” says Akeem Lawanson, host of IGN The Fix: Entertainment and Just Play awards host. “Cinereach and Anima Interactive created the Game Jam along with tools to bring thought-provoking ideas to life within the video game medium. There’s much room for growth in this space, especially in our current world where good content speaks louder than words.” 

The Just Play initiative will extend beyond this single event, aiming to foster an ecosystem of game developers and players passionate about leveraging video games for positive cultural and social change. The success of this year’s Jam marks the beginning of this movement, with plans to kick off more programming beyond SXSW. 

“It has been electrifying to see the community and stories that have formed around this initiative, especially during a time with so much uncertainty in our industry and broader society. We are excited to share more with a wider audience during SXSW and beyond” says Karla Reyes, Founder & Studio Director of Anima Interactive.

Jennifer Estaris, Game Director at ustwo games and one of jam jurors says, “The Just Play Jam is an important initiative that cultivates social change through play. The submissions were heartfelt, beautifully crafted experiences in settings as diverse as the world itself: building an animal park, investigating water depletion in the American Dustbowl, diagnosing patients amidst distracting technology, picking olives in Gaza, and so many more. Play them, and change.”

From March 10-13, 2024, attendees of the SXSW Creative Industries Expo will have the opportunity to demo the Just Play winners and finalists, continuing the conversation around the intersection of gaming and social impact. This year’s Just Play: A Game Jam for Justice is sponsored by Premack Rogers, Dreamspace, and METATAILOR. Community partners include IGDA, IGDA Foundation, Latinx in Gaming, Black in Gaming Foundation, and Global Game Jam.

For more information and updates, visit JustPlayJam.com.

Gayming Staff

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