Q&A: Game Jam for Good

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

CivicHacks and PackH20 are bridging the gap between tech development and civic duty. On Friday, Jan. 16, Columbus game and app developers will showcase their skills while bringing awareness to the water crisis at the Game for Good event at Lumos Gallery.

CivicHacks, an organization dedicated to catalyzing grassroots civic involvement, and PackH20, a non-profit that provides specialized water transportation backpacks in water-stressed areas, have asked Columbus developers to use their skills to develop a game application that will not only entertain users, but also bring awareness and revenue to PackH20.

After 48 consecutive hours the winning app developer’s game will be made available on iTunes, and PackH20 will be able to provide more backpacks to those in need from the game’s proceeds. We sat down with organizers Chris Volpe and David All to discuss the event, and why they believe it’s a win-win for the tech community and the non-profit sector.

Columbus game and app developers love creative challenges. We have a lot of great tech people here, but they work for places like IBM and Nationwide. They have specialized skillsets but often don’t get the opportunity to take on more creative endeavors. At Game Jam for Good about 40 developers will work for 48 straight hours to develop a game or application that will entertain people as well as educate them about PackH20. We are trying to provide a well-defined opportunity so they can use their skillset to make a difference for a great cause. CV

Columbus has the opportunity to come up with a recipe to use game and app development in a way that benefits worthy causes.We are interested in pioneering grassroots civic innovation and aligning developers with civic organizations to better address challenges. Providing clean drinking water is a global issue, and Columbus has a lot of technical talent that is already civic-minded. If you distill what we are doing down to its core, PackH20 doesn’t have to spend a penny to have 10 different games to choose from, and the developers don’t have to spend a penny to participate. We hope Game Jam will be an open resource for other communities who want to link tech development with civic duty.DA

Gaming as a platform can be used to do good things in interesting ways. The gaming industry is the single largest entertainment sector in the world; more than double music and movies combined. This event can be a taster of what the gaming industry has to offer for potential investors and organizations in the non-profit sector. I am trying to make Columbus the next hot-spot for game development. Lots of venture capitalists and prospective inventors are interested in gaming, but aren’t sure how to approach it. These kinds of events are going to facilitate conversations for both developers and PackH20. CV

There are awesome games that come out in Columbus, but nobody ever hears about them. It’s really hard to get the word out about new video games, so one of our goals is to set the platform for developers to get their work seen. The business model for video games is unlike any other entrepreneurial endeavor, which can make it difficult to get funding. We hope this will become a new way to get funded for making video games, but also have a positive impact in the world. DV

Game developers are an altruistic group. Developers inherently want to use their skills to address challenges; they love using critical-thinking and problem-solving to address a situation. Video games are predominantly seen as a child’s thing or a time-wasting thing. I think games are becoming one of the predominant mediums for transferring experiences like movies or novels. CV

Chris Volpe

Age: 33

Day job: CEO/president of Multivarious Games

Hometown: Columbus

Current neighborhood: Clintonville

Currently listening to: IGN Podcasts 

Hobbies: "Making games, collecting random stuff."

Playing favorites:

Favorite restaurant in Columbus: Akai Hana

Favorite beverage: Green tea

Favorite movie: "Good Will Hunting"

Favorite TV show: "Elementary"

Favorite book: "Ender's Game"

Best way to spend $10 in Columbus: "Weiland's Market wine and beer tasting for a date night with Tina Unger."

David All

Age: 35

Day job: Director of business development at AWH and founder of civichacks.org

Hometown: Columbus

Current neighborhood: Clintonville

Currently listening to: Beach House

Hobbies: Trail running

Playing favorites: 

Favorite restaurant: Lindey's

Favorite beverage: IPA

Favorite movie: "Rushmore"

Favorite TV show: "House of Cards"

Favorite book: "On the Shortness of Life" by Seneca

Best way to spend $10 in Columbus: Coffee at Cafe Brioso and Mission Coffee