At the top of the globe, there’s a game jam.

In Troms, winter comes in many shades., the world’s most northern city (as long as you define ‘city’ as a town with more than 20,000 residents; those who live further north prefer to be loners). The snow outside is like glass, with stones are strewn about to give a shoe a fighting chance to keep its grip. The ice is stable. Inside, too, it’s laced with vodka, which is a nice advantage in the chicly Norwegian open office building known as Flow. Around a hundred programmers, artists, and designers, all attendees of the inaugural Splash game jam, stand around sipping alcoholic slushies and eating pizza around quarter past nine in the evening.

We’ll board the MS Finnmarken at midnight.-meter-long cruise ship weighs 15,690 tonnes and has 1,000 seats to begin a 48-hour, 1200-kilometer journey to Trondheim, Norway. We’ll have passed through perilously narrow fjords, seen vast shoals of fish flicker in the sea, witnessed a tiny bespectacled man hack a dried cod into crispy pieces with a hand ax, sat self-consciously in one of the MS Finnmarken’s 283 cabins, carpeted in vomit. (for us Brits, anyway) in a hot tub. At the same time, the Northern lights billow like ghostly cosmic curtains overhead through the chlorine mist. Some people may have even found time to create a video game.

“Does anyone have any experience with 3D art?” Tim Garbos, the designer of the recent iOS, hit Progress and a member of the Copenhagen Game Collective, inquires in the dim light as a man with thinning hair cues up. His laptop trails Todd Terje. A lot of hands are raised. “How about shaders?” says the narrator. A new way of the arms. “So, how about some shooting games? Is there anyone here that can make shooters?” While the rest of the room boos, a guy standing near the improvised stage raises his hand and begins to circle on the spot, beaming. Garbos has participated in several game jams, which are increasingly popular gatherings of game developers who are encouraged to cooperate with strangers to create a video game based on a subject. Garbos warned the organizers of Splash Jam, Runa Haukland and Henriette Myrlund that their initial concept, ‘Slippery when wet,’ was a touch too prescriptive. Garbos invited people to the stage to announce their “best worst idea” based on the theme, which Haukland and Myrlund changed to “Beginnings” at his suggestion. Before anyone is allowed to split up into groups, Garbos encourages the audience to share their “best worst idea” for the theme.

One young man takes the microphone and discusses an ‘endless birther .’ The player is tasked with guiding a baby through the birth canal. Following that, a girl describes a game in which you play as God’s hand, smiting Adam and Eve whenever they move to touch a forbidden apple. According to a bearded Norwegian man, several chicks race to peck their way out of their eggshells, bobbing their heads back and forth as if caught in fellatio, according to a bearded Norwegian man (they are mainly bearded, and frequently lavishly so). Finally, a tall man in spectacles introduces a grim premise featuring a man who discovers a malignant growth on his neck and must learn to deal with the implications during the game. Garbos later explain to me that the purpose of the practice is to cleanse the herd mind of clichés. According to the thesis, there is an opportunity for novelty only after everyone has exhausted the obvious options.

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