SNDMakes-Chicago gaming prototypes plus links to demos, repos and presos

In less than three days of rapid-prototyping and over 140 cups of coffee, twenty-six 20-inch pizzas, six dozen donuts and bagel sandwiches, and 140 tacos, we have now wrapped up our very first SNDMakes Invitational in Chicago.

Our cross-functional, interdisciplinary teams of gamers, artists, designers, developers, editors, researchers, educators and students collaborated on seven ideas that responded to:

“How might we grow community around games, the artists who make them, the fans that love them?”

We published a mid-sprint update, ICYMI, and find all the details about the teams’ projects, presentations, demos and links to their repos below. Find details on how to get involved with SNDMakes and SND at the end of the article.

**** Writings on the Wall

Team Argyle
Philip Ehrenberg, Game Changer Chicago Design Lab at U. of Chicago
Nausheen Husain, TribApps developer at Chicago Tribune
Joyce Rice, Cartoonist, designer, JoLT Fellow at American U.
Sisi Wei, ProPub Nerds developer at ProPublica
Zach Wise, Northwestern U. Medill School and Knight Lab (Event host)

Writings on the Wall is a role-playing game for discussion that uses community self-regulation to facilitate thoughtful conversations both in online and real-life spaces. It uses XP and leveling up to challenge participants to contribute in ways that are meaningful to their community. Over the weekend, we tested our prototype with the SNDMakes Chicago participants, and found that this community valued the ability to react to comments to shape their conversations.
Repo and presentation

**** Mirror, Mirror

Team Bronzeville
Ditty Bhandari, Northwestern U. Knight Lab (Event host)
James T. Green, Owner at The Studio of James T. Green, On the Firefly
Pete Karl II, Entrepreneur, developer, consultant
Ashlyn Sparrow, Game Changer Chicago Design Lab at U. of Chicago

Mirror Mirror, Screen Shot — SNDMakes Chicago 2016

Mirror, Mirror is a game that helps players confront unknown biases through exposure to intersections of race, gender, socioeconomic status, and ability. Players roll an anonymous profile and travel through their character’s day, using context clues to eventually figure out what their identity is. The stories that power this game come from real-life experiences of people who match these profiles, such as a poor black person living in Flint, MI and a white female CEO. We want players to get a sense for life at different levels of advantage and empathize with people whose stories and backgrounds differ from their own.
Repo, demo and presentation

**** Platform

Team Mayfair
Mallory Busch, Intern at the Chicago Tribune
Cherisse Datu, Freelance graphics editor and JoLT Fellow at American U.
Aidan Feay, Full-stack developer at Vox Media, Product
John Osborn, Data journalist at EdSource, Games entrepreneur

Platform is a Creative Commons-licensed card game in which players gather voters by collecting a series of positions on topical issues. It engages a millennial audience (such as the readers of BuzzFeed Politics, Vox and Fusion) in localized, offline community building and encourages political participation. In doing so, we’re bridging the gap between news consumers and game players and paving the way for more informative gaming.
Repo, demo and presentation

**** I Want In.

Team Printer’s Row
Chris Coyier, Designer and owner of CSS-Tricks, voice at ShopTalk Show, and co-founder at CodePen (Event host)
Charlie Hall, Writer at Polygon / Vox Media, voice of Polygon Backstory
Allyson Wakeman, Designer at The Second City
Nicole Zhu, Fellow at Northwestern U. Knight Lab (Event host)

Players are hungry for new experiences, and developers are starved for playtesters — especially in the early stages of design. I Want In presents developers with a community of players who are given the opportunity to identify their interest in a given game, and ask a developer to be included in a playtest cycle. With a system of rewards (such as trophies), developers have a larger, higher-quality, and more diverse pool of playtesters to choose from, while playtesters have access to more games, a sense of community, and an opportunity for growth and demonstrating their expertise.
Repo, demo and presentation

**** Outpost

Team Pullman
Michael Block, Creator at We are Chicago, Founder of Culture Shock Games
Chris Courtney, Lead mentor at Bloc, SND’s Training Director and CampSND’s director
Eunice Lee, Fellow at Northwestern U. Knight Lab (Event host)
Jackie Roche, Freelance cartoonist and writer, Historical and news-focused comics specialist

OUtpost ullstrations by Jackie Roche, SNDMakes Chicago 2016

One of the biggest problems for indie developers is that there is no common gathering place to share their work and hear about each other. Outpost is a platform that creates an online community that helps these developers find one another and see what everybody is working on. By doing so, we hope to amplify the voices of smaller teams and provide opportunities to connect for collaboration and mentoring.
Repo, demo and presentation

**** Game Jane

Team Roger’s Park
Sean Bender, Senior lab consultant at Deloitte Greenhouse
Matt Dennewitz, Developer and Director of Product at Pitchfork Media (Event host)
Cindy Miller, Lead Game Designer at Culture Shock Games, _We are Chicago_
Jenny Rowley, Game Changer Chicago Design Lab at U. of Chicago
Jess Soberman, Northwestern U. Kellogg School and Knight Lab (Event host)


We are building a game recommendation engine that takes a choose-your-own adventure approach to help non-gamers who express an inability to navigate current discovery options, begin playing without feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or alienated. By increasing the approachability of gaming through a tool designed for these beginners, we meet this need, while increasing the customer base for game developers.
Repo and demo

**** Reason to Rant

Team Sauganash
Chris Ballard, Developer and games nerd at The Washington Post
Greicy Mella, Art director at National Enquirer
Ryan Nagle, Front-end developer at Institute for Nonprofit News
Emily Withrow, Northwestern U. Medill School and Knight Lab (Event host)

Reason to Rant, SNDMakes Chicago, 2016

Rant to Reason is a means for game developers to have a conversation with their users about a feeling that may be hard for them to articulate without a structured conversation. If developers can guide the conversation for users, they can articulate feedback much clearer. This helps inform development of future games and keeps the developer from repeating costly mistakes.
Repo, demo and presentation

ICYMI, find the list of SNDMakes-Chi makers prototyping for games media and gamers this weekend and find more about our inaugural SNDMakes Invitational, including a mid-sprint update. This was our fifth SNDMakes rapid prototyping event with previous ones in Indianapolis, Boston, D.C. and most recently in Austin.

Thank you!: Chicago event partner, hosts and funders

On the weekend of Feb. 5-7, 2016, we worked out of Chicago’s historic Bucktown neighborhood and took over every inch of the Cards Against Humanity‘s amazing office space plus we kicked-off this now successful event with a social hour at Pitchfork Media. We found an excellent partnership with the inspiring Cards Against Humanity team and could not have pulled it all together without our amazing Chicago-event hosts: Codepen, Medill School and Northwestern U. Knight Lab, and Pitchfork Media.

We are grateful for the ongoing SNDMakes program support from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and our scholarship funders: Dow Jones News Fund, Scripps Howard Foundation, and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. The SNDMakes community would not exist without their support.

Are you interested in becoming a future SNDMakes event partner or event host?
Our partners are exactly as the word implies, they help to design the event as well as provide space, some materials, production and co-communication support. Our event hosts provide necessary funds for production support and much more. For example, past event hosts have helped to provide the event’s five meals, snacks and beverages, evening team-building activities, materials and technology.

Without the support of our generous event partners and hosts, scholarship funders and sponsorship we could not offer SNDMakes to the most friendly and engaged community in the journalism and media technology circles.

We’d love for more to get involved. Please contact us at sndmakes [at] gmail for more information.

Join us! And, more about SNDMakes events and team

The Society’s SNDMakes events are about community, not competition. SNDMakes events are not “hackathons,” though we do produce workable prototypes in less than three days. Read our FAQs or check out some great posts from our makers such as Codepen founder Chris Coyier, Upstatement’s Mike Swartz, TheSkimm’s Dheerja Kaur, and plenty on the Vox Product team blog.

Find us out in the wild and follow along: #SNDMakes, Instagram, Facebook. Send us an email at sndmakes [at] gmail, or directly to:

  • Ramla Mahmood, Designer at Vox Media. SND board member, Diversity director and SNDMakes co-director.
  • Miranda Mulligan, Consultant and innovation events producer. News design veteran. SND board member and SNDMakes co-director.
  • Adam Schweigert, Product at Institute for Nonprofit News. SNDMakes technology manager.
  • Kyle Ellis, Director of Strategic Programs, Society For News Design.
  • Stephen Komives, Executive Director, Society For News Design.

For news about future SNDMakes and other events, follow SND on Twitter or Facebook and consider supporting programs like this one by becoming a member.

About SNDMakes

is a series of collaborative, prototyping events focused on digital media design and community.


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role-playing game for discussion that uses community self-regulation to facilitate thoughtful conversations both in online and real-life spaces. It uses XP valheim server hosting and leveling up to challenge participants to contribute….

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