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Tower Jam: a game jam for reimagining the Damsel in Distress
Tower Jam: a game jam for reimagining the Damsel in Distress
August 30, 2013 | By Kris Ligman

August 30, 2013 | By Kris Ligman
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More: Indie, Production



Seasoned game critic Maddy Myers says she wanted to create a game jam devoted to the untold stories of game characters -- especially damsels in distress.

"I've always thought a game told from a captive's perspective would be illuminating," Myers writes. "[Imagine] what Ocarina of Time would look like if you played as Zelda. There would be some fun action elements when Zelda learned the fighting style of the Skeikah... but then, the player would spend the bulk of the end of the game trapped in a crystal."

And thus, Tower Jam was born. A decentralized, online game jam to be held throughout September, the Tower Jam is devoted to "creat[ing] stories from the perspective of a captive. To get into the mind of the powerless person and give them agency to tell their own story."

It doesn't all have to be about pointy-eared princesses getting frozen inside crystals, of course. Anita Sarkeesian's recently concluded three-part series on the Damsel in Distress illustrates just how widespread this trope is, including its various inversions and sub-types. You could even make a game about one of those elusive Dudes in Distress, if you wanted.

"It's going to be hard to tell these stories respectfully," Myers notes. "[But] I believe that representation of different kinds of characters in games should not only be about putting characters of other races and genders and ages and backgrounds into conventionally heroic or aggressive roles, but also, about telling other kinds of stories in general."

The jam is open to all comers with no restrictions on experience or resources. Anticipating that the jam will attract quite a few first-time developers, the FAQ contains plenty of references to free or low-cost programs and tutorials for getting started.

You can learn more about the Tower Jam, including how to get involved, here.


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Comments


Michael Ball
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I like the sound of this. It's not pushing the idea that tropes such as this should outright never be used, but proposing that we utilize old tropes in new ways, giving them new life.

Samuel Green
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This does sound cool, although I can't imagine it picking up much steam because of how informal it is. You have a whole month? Or just a regular Game Jam time inside the month? There isn't that "omg cool event happening this weekend" feeling about it.

I'll probably enter, since I just got laid off and want to learn RPG Maker anyway, but it would be good to see a bit more buzz about it!

Zach Lyle
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Should produce some interesting games, but the idea itself isn't novel.

Paper Mario, anyone?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw5r1vDdWTI

Joe Zachery
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Thank You was just about to post this same example.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Xavier Penin
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The damsel in distress is indeed a very...tricky trope. Story experts from all the world might tell that it's an obvious, always-working idea...and it is, but it certainly calls for a twist.

I've always been fond of the idea that you could present a damsel who has actually chosen to be in distress. It worked very well in my teenager pen & paper role playing games, when my buddies finally found the princess and she told them : guys, I just ran away with the bad boy in black armor, I certainly don't want to be brought back to my father, and you just killed my boyfriend.

Elisabeth Beinke-Schwartz
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Reminds me of the novel "Dealing With Dragons." http://www.amazon.com/Dealing-Dragons-Enchanted-Forest-Chronicles
/dp/015204566X

Princess Cimorene runs away to voluntarily become a dragon's "princess" and princes keep trying to come to 'rescue' her.

Kris Ligman
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Ah, one of my favorite books as a kid! I kept trying to remember the name.


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