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Have you seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Did you feel like there was something … missing? Was that something Jar Jar Binks? If your answer is yes — and even if your answer is no — indie developer James Earl Cox III has you covered with his Jar Jar Jam game event. It’s a deliberately “bad” game jam that will run on the indie game platform Game Jolt from December 25 to January 1. It’s free to participate and developers can use any tools they want for any platform they want.
Cox has run 35 game jams so far on the site, and a few have been what he calls Bad Media Jams. His first was Garfjam in 2014, an event themed around the infinitely meme-d orange cat Garfield. Other Bad Media Jams have taken inspiration from Tommy Wiseau’s cult classic spoon-fest The Room and the Minions from Despicable Me.
Though the idea of creating so-called bad games is funny, that’s not the only goal Cox is trying to accomplish. Five years ago, he set a personal milestone to create 100 games. He succeeded, thanks in part to the many game jams he participated in. But he noticed that a number of his friends were still nervous about participating in such events because they were worried they’d make a “bad” game.
“If game jams themselves weren’t freeing enough to make a game, I thought, ‘What if the game jam itself is so bad, you can’t make a good game?'” said Cox in an email to GamesBeat. “I figured it could be a relief for participants if there was no outcome of the jam besides a bad game.”
The Jar Jar Jam already has inspired a game, though it can’t be officially counted as an entry since it was created outside the game jam’s timeframe. Something Clever’s The Gungan Tryst is a dating sim where you try to convince Jar Jar to join the Sith, playing off fan theories (let’s be honest — they’re just memes) that Jar Jar is in tune with the Dark Side and may even be Supreme Leader Snoke. Because all Bad Media Jams start on December 25, most people have trouble participating. This is deliberate, offering potential developers a baked-in excuse to not join.
“Setting the jam during the holidays makes it terrible for timing,” said Cox. “It gives participants a wide range of safety nets for creating. You don’t have enough time, the theme is bad, so no worries if you can’t do it, and if you can: make a beautiful trash fire game.”
Previous Bad Media Jams have drawn low numbers of participants, with The Room Jam attracting the fewest sign-ups. However, Cox says that the theme often sparks discussion even if a lot of folks end up not creating a game.
“With that said, the participants are usually excited to discuss the jam theme and embrace the opportunity to make a bad game,” said Cox. “We aren’t often given the infrastructure to make bad media. As long as the jammers enjoy themselves and make a game they’re happy with (regardless of how trash the jam forces it to be), I’m honored to have hosted.”
As for whether or not he has a favorite “bad” game?
“Keeping in mind that there is no best game from any of these jams — they are all equally as lovely and bad as their companion games — my personal favorite is Minion Simulator 2016,” said Cox.
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