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Ready, set, game

Greater Green Bay Chamber to host area’s own inaugural game jam

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November 8, 2023

GREEN BAY – Gamification – elements of game playing that are applied to other activities such as learning and marketing – Kelly Armstrong, vice president of economic development at the Greater Green Bay Chamber (GGBC), said is everywhere.

“(There’s) Wordle,” she said. “Duolingo is teaching you languages – but how are they doing it? By gamification. Corporate training, job training and all that kind of training. There’s a lot of gamification to teach you skills and things because they’re trying to get you in a way (where) you’re going to remember it and want to learn it.”

And, though the world of gaming has continued to expand and change the way one might view games, Armstrong said GGBC has also been working on expanding one of the pillars of its economic development strategic plan – building out the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the area.

That’s why, when GGBC met with Ben Kvalo, founder and CEO of Midwest Games, Armstrong said it was a no-brainer to create an event around the gaming industry.

“We said, ‘would you want to do something together around games and the game industry?’” she said. “And he said, ‘absolutely.’ It’s another piece in the entrepreneurial ecosystem (puzzle), and provides an opportunity to convene and connect entrepreneurs in that gaming space.”

After solidifying plans with Midwest Games and partnering with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC), the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB), Wisconsin Games Alliance, VYPER and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Armstrong said Titletown’s inaugural Game On Green Bay event will take place from Nov. 11-14 at NWTC’s Digital Arts Atrium & Esports Zone (2740 W. Mason St.). 

Armstrong said the chamber also received guidance from Ben Geisler, a lecturer at UWGB, and others who were involved in Green Bay’s Global Game Jam location at the Urban Hub (340 N. Broadway #200).

“We can’t be experts on everything,” she said. “So, we have to bring experts to the table… (Green Bay’s Global Game Jam location) was run by Ben Geisler and some folks, and that was kind of independently done. We went to those guys and said, ‘hey we’re looking at doing this. Do you want to help us?’ and they said, ‘absolutely, yes.’”

How it works
Similar to the Global Game Jam, the start of Game On Green Bay kicks off Saturday, Nov. 11, with the release of a theme in which the participants will follow. 

Then, Armstrong said people will pair up with who they wish, and from then until Tuesday, Nov. 14 – 72 hours later – they will work on developing a game to the best of their ability. 

“They take it as far as they can take it,” she said. “(They will not be) completely publishable games, but you’re going to have concepts and a place you can look at ones that have real potential and say, ‘let’s take this to another step.’”

The participating groups will have the chance to receive feedback from those more seasoned in the game industry, Armstrong said, such as Kvalo.

Ben Kvalo

On Tuesday evening, creators will showcase their games to other developers and anyone who wishes to come watch.

This showcase event, Armstrong said, will then be followed by an indie showcase, where seasoned developers present more polished and complete games to be judged. 

A demo of RA RA BOOM, which was created by Gylee Games – the first developer Midwest Games signed – will be available to play at the event as well.

Anyone from the public is welcome to come watch the showcase regardless if they participated in the 72-hour creation event.

Armstrong said it’s important to note the event is free to everyone.

“The fee is their time and talents,” she said. “This is more about getting the community to come out and connect.”

Though this is the first time GGBC is hosting the gaming event, “gaming has been around here.”

“There are people here who create games,” she said. “There is a game industry here. You have gamers, and they have this gaming community amongst themselves, but the mainstream community’s not aware of that. So, this is an opportunity to bring those communities together in one space.” 

Transferable skills
One of the biggest reasons GGBC and Midwest Games decided to create Game On Green Bay, Armstrong said, was to show the possibility of having a professional job in the industry in the area.

She said the people who worked with GGBC for the event themselves show the different kinds of talent needed to make a game happen. 

“I think we have at least four professors from Green Bay who have helped put this together, and they’re all cross-disciplinary,” she said. “You have an English professor that’s teaching game theory and how to write the games, you have artists that come in and help design the visual part of it and you have a computer science coder. It is this cross-discipline industry, which is fascinating.”

Kvalo said the reason there’s a need for so many different positions is because of a game’s complexity.

“You’re combining art and technology, and then you have to make it entertaining as well,” he said. “And then you have to market it to the world and try to get an audience to play that thing… it’s a vastly complex thing, just to create.”

And, even if someone chooses to get into the professional gaming realm and does not stay in the industry, both Armstrong and Kvalo said the skills they develop in the field are “fully transferable into a lot of different disciplines.”

“(Gaming) is incredibly cross-functional, – which is so great for our ecosystem holistically,” Kvalo said. “To (be in the gaming industry), you have to be a problem solver. And that means folks that might start in games… they might go into health care and help problem solve on how to make an experience better because they’re thinking about so many different aspects.”

Supporting GB’s gaming community
As the event nears closer, Kvalo said Midwest Games is excited that “more is happening in the gaming ecosystem here.”

“To be able to support that, literally in our backyard, and to be able to partner with the chamber… this is an exciting moment to see that because it’s something we can build upon,” he said. “It puts us on the map a bit more by doing an event like this.”

The game jam, he said, also shows that anyone can be a game developer – something that aligns with the values of Midwest Games.

“Ultimately, our goal of the company is to better support developers,” he said. “And what this is doing is bringing out developers from all over the place… It’ll be cool to see who all shows up and (watch) the beginnings of something.”

Armstrong said she hopes Game On Green Bay continues to promote the gaming industry in the area.

“This is an opportunity to… really put a spotlight on the game industry that exists here already,” she said. “And then also promoting it to say, ‘hey, how can this continue to build? How can we make sure these connections are happening, and build that momentum to build up the game industry and development here in the Greater Green Bay region?’”

For those who participate in the jam, Kvalo said he hopes they walk away and “feel more supported, and (recognize) they can do this here.”

He said it allows people to “think about something creatively and innovatively.”

“Gaming does go into so many other areas,” he said. “I mean, what if we were better at gamifying our financial journey? What if it was a better experience that was more gamified and you wanted to invest in it? I think there’s a lot of opportunity with that.”

To register to participate or attend the inaugural Game On Green Bay event, visit

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