NASG Un-Jam 2023

Attention! Up-to-date practical information for participants is available here.

Call to action: Making games for/about sustainability

The Nordic Alliance for Sustainability in Gaming invites interested students to join NASG Un-Jam, a rapid game prototyping workshop dedicated to environmental and cultural sustainability, which will take place at the IT University of Copenhagen on June 4–9, 2023

The concept of environmental sustainability needs no introduction. Climate change and its perils have become a part of both media discourse and our everyday conversations — so much so, in fact, that we may be becoming desensitized to the problem. Games can be an excellent way to help us overcome this desensitization, as they harness our curiosity and playfulness to explore even the most difficult subjects.

But the concept of sustainability is not limited to environmental issues. Cultural and social sustainability — things ranging from making sure workers are treated fairly to empowering marginalized groups to express themselves — are equally important for sustainable development. The videogame industry does not have the best track record in this regard, being notorious for its crunch culture and its historic lack of workplace diversity, as well as for some game companies relying on exploitative monetization tactics such as lootboxes.

During NASG Un-Jam, we will explore how games can help become part of the solution to sustainability issues, rather than just contributing factors to the problem. We will discuss the effects of games and the game industry on the environment and their implications for cultural sustainability. We will look into what game designers and developers can do to make things better, and how their games can have a positive impact. And, most importantly, we will make games together!

About the event

An un-jam is different from a standard game jam. We want to embrace sustainability in how the event itself is organized, so we will focus on providing a friendly and supportive environment where diverse ideas are embraced and crunch is discouraged. The game prototypes created by participating teams will be presented but not graded or ranked. It is also perfectly fine to present unfinished projects. To support you along the way, experienced educators will always be around to offer feedback and support. We will also offer short workshops on topics related to environmental and cultural sustainability, such as:

  • the environmental impact of the game industry and gaming culture
  • cultural sustainability issues in gaming (representation, inclusivity, job security, etc.)
  • how sustainability issues have been represented in games
  • using digital and tabletop games as a catalyst for social change

Games created during the event can belong to any genre, be digital or analog, and may focus on any relevant issue, from biodiversity loss to the gender wage gap. We don’t want to stifle your creativity, but we do want to explore the concept of sustainability from all angles, such as the issue of “greenwashing”: creating superficial solutions and narratives designed to make us feel good without actually leading to meaningful environmental action.

The workshop in Copenhagen is the second event of this kind. The first workshop took place in Tallinn, Estonia, in June 2022. You can learn more about it here.

Participant information 

NASG Un-Jam is open to undergraduate and Master’s students at NASG partner universities. By participating in the workshop, you can earn 4 ECTS, which can be transferred to your home university. Note that each partner university may have additional requirements, such as extra assignments, for their students to be awarded the 4 ECTS.

Participation is free of charge. Five selected participants from each partner university will receive transportation to Copenhagen and financial support for accommodation. A selection of snacks and drinks will be available at the venue, but lunch is at participants’ own expense.

If you would like to join the event or have a query regarding it, please respond to the specific call for participants disseminated at your home university.