TAG’s GAMERella x Code Liberation’s Game Jam with a Bossed Up Theme

by Samantha Albala



I attended my first game jam ever this weekend at NYU’s Gaming Center and I was incredibly nervous and intimidated. I was invited by one of the ladies of Code Liberation, an all-girl organization that aims to level the playing field in the game world and provides free game programing classes to women in order to create gender equality in the gaming industry. This particular event was hosted by a research center centered around game studies and design, digital culture and interactive art. This wonderful organization called TAG, hosted this event as a way to invite self-identified women and gender non-conforming game makers, and anyone who feels like they haven’t had a chance to create a game in the industry. I really appreciate both of these organizations and what they are doing to work towards inclusion and support in the gaming industry. 

A game jam is when an intentionally diverse group gets together and collaborates to make a game in a short period of time. While making a video game isn’t necessary (board games are also an option), what people come up with on their computers and other shiny tech devices tends to be super impressive and beautiful.

 It goes something like this: 

When I told Catt Small of Code Liberation that I would only be able to attend half of the weekend-long event she assured me that I could still manage to make something quick and simple. I kept telling people I would try to do this, but my only real experience with coding was making websites for friends, and they were mostly about books and cats.

As a rule, I love anything literary or cute.

So what the hell was I qualified to do at a game jam? I had no idea, and I was panicking.

 I introduced myself to Nina Freeman, the event organizer, and she reminded (and maybe urged) me that I could pull together something small and simple. The idea of making a game in two days, like most of these people were doing, was incredibly daunting. So, I asked if I could sit in on one of the groups’ projects. 


The weekend was based off of the following Nicki Minaj video:


What I witnessed in the four hours of sitting with the group was incredible. There were artists, and coders, and even a sound guy that captured a clip of Nicki saying “Bossed up!” It was a very entertaining day filled with fixing bugs, drawing grandmas, and Snorlaxes (Snorlaxs?), and talking about what it really means to be bossed up.

Being involved in learning and mastering a new skill is a big part of getting bossed up. In other words: being confident enough to ask for what you want. A lot of the time, taking control and ownership of your talent means risking being called a bitch. I hope we can agree that we, as women, shouldn’t and don’t have to settle for pickle juice, or other things like it, and we will appreciate being a boss, worthy, respected and more than good enough.


It was incredibly exciting when finally, at 4 pm, the groups laid their games out on a long table so everyone could test them. Although I was a bit disappointed by the people who did not show their games, (maybe they were like me and spent the day researching how to start) I was really surprised and impressed by what came out of the weekend. The concept of Nicki’s “Bossed Up” video was really great for creating exciting games, and I hope to start learning enough to jump in with both feet next time.


There does happen to be a Code Liberation event in a few weeks on Wednesday November 19th and 26th at 6:30p.m. at the NYU Game Center. They will be teaching how to create a simple “flappy bird” like game. So, ladies, I’ll be seeing you soon I hope! 

 Oh– and feel free to play one of the awesome games created over the weekend! 

Photos c/o former BUST intern Caroline Sinders @carolinesinders 


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