Addressing the infodemic around the COVID 19 pandemic, decision-making simulation game wins first ComplexityJam

Addressing the topic of an onslaught of conflicting information and fake news in connection to the coronavirus pandemic, ComplexityJam #survivetheinfodemic challenged participants to represent he complexity of the situation through games and interactive digital narratives, in an online international game jam event coordinated by INDCOR EU COST Action and MOME University, which ended on June 13 with a virtual award ceremony.

The main award went to “Temp in Charge”.

The ComplexityJam international online game developing competition was initiated by the INDCOR COST Action, which stands for Interactive Digital Narratives for Complexity Representations. The INDCOR project was launched on May 29 with almost 80 participants attending from 12 different countries, including the US, the UK, Sweden, The Netherlands, Hungary, and Turkey. 11 entries were developed before the deadline, June 5. The resulting works addressed issues of social distancing, information overload, fake news identification, successful collaboration and the responsible decision-making during the pandemic. The main task was to provide orientation during the pandemic and provide an outlet for playful creativity through the creation of complex representations.

The winners were selected by a five-member International jury of acclaimed scholars and award-winning professionals: Janet Murray (Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology, US), Lindsay Grace (Professor and Knight Chair for Interactive Media, University of Miami, US), Szabolcs Józsa (Founder, Nemesys Games, HU), Odile Limpach (Professor, Cologne Game Lab, DE) and Simon Meek (Creative Director, The Secret Experiment, BAFTA winner, UK).
  1. “Temp in Charge” wins the ComplexityJam main award: https://rocinante.itch.io/temp-in-charge The president contracted pneumonia and you are his temporary stand-in for just one week. You must make decisions about the current pandemic and economic situation. There is no need to panic when you have the EasyGuv 6000 application at hand by which running a government becomes an easy task. Find solutions to your problems with just a few clicks.
Team: Resul Alıcı (Bahcesehir University Game Design graduate and Unico Studio game designer), Burak Karakas (Bahcesehir University).
The jury found this work to offer the most complete experience. It directly addresses the question of difficult decisions based on competing pieces of information. “Temp in Charge” makes us aware of the complexity of political decision-making via a friendly, easy-to use interface.
  1. “Trial Day” wins Runner-up Award for development: https://erencaylak.itch.io/trial-day Trial Day is a game about information overload in the age of a pandemic, of post-truth and fake news. You are an aspiring journalist. Welcome to your new job’s trial day! Your ultimate goal? Play their game as best as you can and identify which news pieces to trust! But be aware: your choices and behavior are being monitored!
Team: Eren Çaylak, Sid Chou, Glenn Curtis, Yiting Liu, Dimitra Mavrogonatou, Kirstin McLellan. (This team was assembled by the ComplexityJam organizers and included participants from New York University, Turkey, Greece, and Glasgow School of Art)
The jury particularly liked the trial aspect and its rapid-fired approach that challenges the interactor to make quick decisions. The simple, yet effective graphic depiction of the trial elements adds considerably to the experience.
  1. “Essential workers” wins Special Award “the most potential for further development” https://aanupam3.itch.io/essential-workers. Essential Workers is a cooperative online multiplayer game about a community working together to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. Players must balance their personal safety against the necessities of the community. If anyone loses, everyone loses.
Team: Aditya Anupam, Jordan Graves, Marian Dominquez Mirazo, Colin Stricklin, Kevin Tang, Michael Vogel (all Georgia Institute of Technology, USA)
The jury was impressed by this entry and how it translates an underlying scientific model into accessible game play. In addition, it raises awareness of “essential workers” – people in important jobs who are too often underpaid and underappreciated.
  1. Honorary mentions: RAWRER, the Cretacian version of an imagined dinosaur version of Twitter, is a game where the dinosaur community circulates news about the ongoing Volcano crisis and tries to spread the word on how they should best address the situation: https://noha-morte.itch.io/rawrer-mobile-game
Team: Olga Chatzifoti (Glasgow Schol of Art), Christina Chrysanthopoulou (Game Developer)
According to the Jury this entry addresses the infodemic via a fantasy world, in which a population of dinosaurs discussing the severity of an impending threat in a manner analogous to the discussion around the COVID-19 pandemic. The developers created an impressive and detailed system for the interactor to explore.
  1. Rabid is a point and click adventure game where, as a mayor, you need to make decisions that will influence the lives of the anthropomorphic animals living in your town. You can decide which information to rely on, which to investigate further, but the issues you have to face might not be black and white, and sometimes you need to pick priorities or the lesser evil. https://kuvasz013.itch.io/rabid
Team: Ágnes Fábián, Viktória Fehér, Ádám Kovács, Rebeka Kovács, Miklós Levente Papp, Noémi Rózsa, Eszter Szabó-Zichy
According to the Jury this experience was created with much love for detail and description. The interactor experiences the complexity of decision-making in a friendly environment that could also work for younger audiences.

All games are available at: https://itch.io/jam/complexityjam
The event was supported by the COST Action INDCOR, COST - European Cooperation in Science and Technology (indcor.eu, cost.eu), MOME - Moholy-Nagy Univesriyt of art and Design, National Research, Development and Innovation Office, Hungary (mome.hu).
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