AbleGamers Foundation — the leading charity and organization wielding the power of gaming to break down the barriers of economic and social isolation for people with disabilities — and its partner Train Jam are overjoyed to announce today the three disabled game developers selected to participate in Train Jam 2018, a three-day train ride and game jam where some of the brightest developers come together to create unique and exciting video games while en route to GDC 2018. The three recipients have been selected for a full sponsorship for an all-expense paid trip from Chicago to San Francisco where they’ll attend the world’s biggest annual event for established and up-and-coming developers.
Train Jam, which was founded in 2013 by video game developer Adriel Wallick, inspires developers from diverse backgrounds and cultures to go beyond their comfort zones and let their creativity flourish outside of a regular office or home environment. Some of the industry’s best developers and promising game design students gather each year to show off their game development chops in this unique, three-day picturesque journey by rail across the country, where participants have 52 hours to conceptualize and create a video game that best represents a designated game jam theme.
The three participants selected to receive the AbleGamers Train Jam 2018 sponsorship are:
Harrison Isadore Barton – A graduate from DigiPen Institute of Technology with multiple student awards, Harrison is a game and narrative designer who enjoys working on projects with a focus on storytelling, character diversity, and the portrayal of serious themes such as activism. He has worked extensively with both the Unity and Unreal game engines.
Rae Michelle Richards – Published Android developer and veteran games journalist, Rae has worked on multiple self-funded games and hopes to dedicate more time to similar passion projects via her attendance to Train Jam.
Jade Hall-Smith – Passionate about disability accessibility, Jade is a student who develops her own games that are not only accessible but designed to bring awareness about disabilities and mental health. She has advocated for gaming accessibility at conferences and represents multiple student disability groups.
The AbleGamers’ sponsored developers set to embark on Train Jam 2018 to GDC hail from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, respectively, bringing their diverse backgrounds, talents and experiences overcoming their disabilities to the event. Train Jam 2018 starts Thursday, March 15, 2018 in Chicago, ending on Saturday, March 17, 2018 in San Francisco, followed by GDC 2018 (March 19 to 23, 2018).
“After a long voting process, it feels great to once again give talented game developers access to all of the opportunities afforded to them by Train Jam,” said Steven Spohn, COO, AbleGamers. “This year AbleGamers’ continued partnership with Train Jam will be a global celebration with three different winners from three different countries with three diverse backgrounds, each being an inspiring developer with disabilities. We’re incredibly excited to see what this year’s group accomplishes in March and beyond.”
“We’re super excited about having these three passionate and enthusiastic developers attending Train Jam,” said Adriel Wallick, founder of Train Jam. “All of us are looking forward to the amazing games that they’ll create over the course of the trip and learning about the friendships and connections they’ll have made. We hope to continue working with AbleGamers this year and beyond on future iterations of Train Jam to create more opportunities for game developers with disabilities.”
Through its diversity initiatives, Train Jam hosts developers from marginalized communities within the game industry — from emergent territories, under-represented genders, minorities and those with disabilities. Through AbleGamers and Train Jam’s partnership, the three chosen applicants will have access to travel aid and special accommodations for varying disabilities. This includes an on-board American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, service animal accommodations, wheelchair accessibility and a caretaker or family member pass if required. Those selected additionally have All Access passes to everything the GDC 2018 conference has to offer — from panels and technology showcases to demos of new and unreleased games.