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      The Money Game Design Jam in San Francisco

      • The Money Game Design Jam Photo #1
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      August 23, 2013 - August 25, 2013

      Friday   6:00 PM - Sunday 12:00 AM

      540 Howard St
      San Francisco, California 94105

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      The Money Game Design Jam



      YetiZen and AMTRUST FINANCIAL SERVICES present:

      The Money Game Design Jam


      A design jam is an intense 54-hour event where game designers come share ideas, form teams, and design new games. The goal for the weekend is designing the best possible games with the constraints given… all while having a blast working, playing and jamming with other game designers!


      Money is a game you’re already playing. You vote with your money everyday, actively choosing the kind of life you and others around you have. What few people realize is that the bulk of these are habits formed in high school that stick with you for life.

      This Design Jam is aimed at making games that will help empower the current generation of high school teenagers to develop smart financial behaviors.


      We want you to design a game that models financial choices and in the process teaches players to understand and anticipate the impacts of their financial decisions. Examples include: planning (goal setting), choice modeling (cost benefit analysis, delayed gratification, time value of money etc.), tracking & assessing, and pivoting (reworking budgets gone awry).

      Some may say this sounds boring. That’s why we are coming to you! Gamify this experience and excite young students to engage and learn through play!

      If this all sounds dry, you get to make sure it isn’t. And we’re putting up $15,000 to the winner, the team who excites us with their unique take on the gamification of managing money.

      Here are some examples of frameworks you can choose for your game. The list below is directional only and you may decide to build off any of the frameworks below, come up with your own, or devise an entirely different approach.

      Players are tasked with decision points where they have to balance their money versus one of these needs.

      • Time vs. Money
      • Health vs. Money
      • Environment vs. Money
      • Entertainment vs. Money
      • TBD vs. Money

      The venue for all activities related to the design jam is the YetiZen Innovation Lab, located at 540 Howard Street, 2nd Floor, San Francisco

      Besides the game design pitches what will happen during the Design Jam?

      Here is a schedule of the weekend:

      • Friday:
        • 7pm check-in
        • 7:30pm kick off presentation on financial frameworks
        • 8:30pm participants do lightening pitches (1 min each) of their game ideas to invite more team mates to their team (OR come with a team already formed)
      • Saturday:
        • 9am design jam begins
        • Noon to 1pm lunch, gamer grub!
        • 2pm to 5pm mentors walk around for individual coaching/judges discuss and course correct
      • Sunday:
        • 9am design jam begins
        • Noon to 1pm lunch, gamer grub!
        • 5pm demo of pitches begin

      The contest follows the typical game stage gate process:

      1. Game idea presented to judges at the end of the design jam. Format is a one page Game Concept Pitch and a deck presenting the idea.
      2. Judges approve and green-light 3 game designs for next stage… A full Game Design Document (We will provide a suggested template)
      3. One (1) game design from among the finalists win the final prize money

      3 finalists will be selected from all the pitches at the end of the Design Jam weekend. One of these will be the final winner of $15,000.

      • Provide a one-pager Game Concept Pitch
        • Working Title
        • Game Concept:

      - High-level description of game.

      - Player goals.

      - Example gameplay.

      - First-time play session: How will the player be introduced to the game? What will the player do during the first play session? Why will the player come back? What is fun about this game?

      - Describe game mechanic(s) and why they were chosen.

      - References to other similar games or gameplay examples.

      • Provide a physical demonstration of your core concept and mechanics: On paper, PowerPoint, etc. This can literally be a guided presentation.


      What are the requirements to win, I mean… we all care about the fifteen grand, right? The Grand Prize winner is chosen 2 weeks later on Sept 9th, 2013. Full Game Design Documents should be submitted by Sept 5th, 5:00 PM PST:  

      -          Provide a detailed Game Design Document (suggested template will be provided at Design Jam).  The sections of the Game Design Document (GDD) shall include, but not be limited to:  

      •  Title Page
        • Game Name – Perhaps also add a subtitle or high concept sentence.
      •  Game Overview
        • Game Concept
        • Genre
        • Target Audience
        • Game Flow Summary – How does the player move through the game. Both through framing interface and the game itself.
        • Look and Feel – What is the basic look and feel of the game? What is the visual style?
      • Gameplay and Mechanics
        • Gameplay
          • Game Progression
          • Mission/challenge Structure
          • Puzzle Structure
          • Objectives – What are the objectives of the game?
          • Play Flow – How does the game flow for the game player
        • Mechanics – What are the rules to the game, both implicit and explicit.  This is the model of the universe that the game works under.  Think of it as a simulation of a world, how do all the pieces interact?  This actually can be a very large section.Game Options – What are the options and how do they affect game play and mechanics?
          • Physics – How does the physical universe work?
          • Movement in the game
          • Objects – how to pick them up and move them
          • Actions, including whatever switches and buttons are used, interacting with objects, and what means of communication are used
          • Conflict – If there is combat or even conflict, how is this specifically modeled?
          • Economy – What is the economy of the game? How does it work?
          • Screen Flow -- A graphical description of how each screen is related to every other and a description of the purpose of each screen.
          • Monetization – If the game is Free-To-Play, how does the monetization work and is there a progression to the monetization?
        • Replaying and Saving
        • Cheats and Easter Eggs
      • Story, Setting and Character 
        • Story and Narrative – Includes back story, plot elements, game progression, and cut scenes.  Cut scenes descriptions include the actors, the setting, and the storyboard or script.
        • Game World
          • General look and feel of world
          • Areas, including the general description and physical characteristics as well as how it relates to the rest of the world (what levels use it, how it connects to other areas)
        • Characters.  Each character should include the back story, personality, appearance, animations, abilities, relevance to the story and relationship to other characters
      • Levels
        • Levels.  Each level should include a synopsis, the required introductory material (and how it is provided), the objectives, and the details of what happens in the level.  Depending on the game, this may include the physical description of the map, the critical path that the player needs to take, and what encounters are important or incidental.
        • Training Level
      • Interface
        • Visual System.  If you have a HUD, what is on it?  What menus are you displaying? What is the camera model?
        • Control System – How does the game player control the game?   What are the specific commands?
        • Audio, music, sound effects
        • Help System
      • Artificial Intelligence
        • Opponent  and Enemy AI – The active opponent that plays against the game player and therefore requires strategic decision making
        • Non-combat and Friendly Characters
        • Support AI -- Player and Collision Detection, Pathfinding
      • Technical Game Art – Key assets, how they are being developed. Intended style.
        • Target Hardware
        • Development hardware and software, including Game Engine
        • Network requirements
      • Note:  Not all sections may be applicable.

      -          Provide a playable demo of your core concept: Can be interactive presentation, Web, Flash, mobile. Should demonstrate first player experience, player progression, and core mechanic(s). Does not have to include high-quality art. (but best efforts will be appreciated!)

      • Ultimately… the GAME SHOULD BE FUN!
      • Primary Target Platform: Mobile
      • Target Player Demo: High school age, Freshmen to Senior.
      • Game Design should include all of the following in detail:
        • overall theme of the game
        • what players are expected to learn or understand through gameplay
        • description of player progression and the one or more mechanics that support the desired behaviors from players
        • description of how the players receive visual & audio feedback based on the choices they make with their money in the way of a score or other elements (ie: How well am I doing as a player?)
        • indication if the game is competitive or cooperative with other players
        • the desired length of play of a typical player session
        • how the game could fit in a classroom setting as well as a game players could play at home or in their spare time
        • what key metrics of a player’s game should be captured and measured based on progression and consecutive gameplay session. (ie: What should analysts pay attention to? How could teachers use the analytics for student assessments?

       Alexander OffermannSenior Producer at Crystal Dynamics
      Alex Offermann has over 15 years of top tier video game project management and production experience at publishers and game studios including Eidos/Square Enix, Ubisoft, Midway, Activision. His most recent game was the successful reboot of Tomb Raider at Crystal Dynamics, with previous notable game titles including John Woo Presents: Stranglehold, Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Experience, and TMNT Smash-Up. Brian BackusPrincipal at Backus MediaBrian enjoys working with creative teams to develop market-changing consumer products, and take them from concept to market. He has been developing interactive entertainment since 1993. He is currently the Principal at Backus Media, providing strategy consulting to digital media, mobile TV, and retail companies. Prior to Backus Media, he was the Chief Executive at Kidlandia. The company was an opportunity to engage and delight children and their family both offline and online. Kidlandia has millions of users and works with top companies like Disney and Marvel. He advises startups on game design that makes your customers your chief evangelists. Steve CarlsonDirector of Marketing and Business Development at IntuitSteve has spent more than 20 years dedicated to understanding and delivering on consumer needs. While he started with marketing roles at Toyota and P&G, the majority of his career has been in consumer finance and technology in senior executive roles at Intuit, HSBC and JP Morgan Chase. He has also advised leading international, as well as start-up, financial services firms as the founder and Principal at Sung Carlson Associates. He most recently served as the Head of Marketing and Business Development for both and Quicken, where he was focused on the application of technology to help consumers make better financial decisions to positively impact their lives. Steve is a member of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Consumer Advisory Board, where his role is to provide information, analysis, and recommendations as relates to emerging trends in technology and other topics of interest to the CFPB.  Cheesan ChewChief CX Officer, SVP at Idea Couture  Cheesan is a leader in customer experience innovation rooted in empathy-based discovery. Working to transform business systems, applications and how both customers and employees experience brands, clients look to her as a trusted advisor to support sustainable growth and translate big aspirations into tangible solutions.
      With her roots in the worlds of technology, Cheesan began her career working with the CDC to build one of its first eConnected disease reporting systems and leading the digital customer experience strategy for Hewlett-Packard and Wendy's. Since then, she has been responsible for developing digital strategies, architecting platform-based solutions, and leading both marketing and customer experience innovation projects for clients including United Health Group, AARP, MIT, Cisco, American Express, Aviva, Scotiabank and FedEx.
      Prior to founding Idea Couture, Cheesan held senior strategy roles with Blast Radius (WPP) and Bell, where she developed their consumer product and service strategy portfolio.
      Cheesan holds an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business.  
      FAQ /Google Hangout Session on July 23rd
      Powerpoint Slide:

      1) Where does the money go?

      All the money is awarded to the team designing the game. In a situation where there is more than one member of the team the prize money will be equally split between the team members. Amtrust Financial will then develop the game separately on its own from a budget that is separate from the prize money.

      2) Do you have to speak to the Time vs. Money, Health vs. Money etc. in your game?

      No, they are there for examples. You can choose any of these examples or design your game around another framework of your choosing. The framework must be one that compares a competing need with money. If you have any ideas about other frameworks and what to run these by us feel free to email us at and we will share out thoughts

      3) What is the motivation of the competition?

      AMT, the company that is heading the event, is part of a larger financial institution based in New York that sees the lack of financial literacy among high school students as a major issue. Their innovation group believes in the power that games, and the creative indie designers that make them, can have in providing both an engaging AND effective financial literacy tool. They believe that effective financial literacy tools attempt to change behaviors- not just impart lessons- they believe that indie designed games may be just the tool to actually trigger students to reflect on their financial decisions and, in turn, develop better financial behaviors.

      4) Why is financial education important?

      In many ways the nation as a whole is suffering from a severe lack of financial literacy- highlighted most directly by the predatory products that spawned the financial crisis. It is an important cause for all individuals but most especially for high school students- or soon to be financially independent individuals. Right now there is a financial literacy "no mans land" for youth, from collecting money in a piggy bank one day to opening a credit card the next. Students need exposure to financial education but- importantly- financial education that engages students. Many of the financial literacy tools that exist today are dry lessons that don't engage students and don't have an active impact on students' actual financial behaviors.

      5) Is the available education wrong or confusing?

      It is not that the source information is wrong, it is the delivery. The available education  offers the "textbook" approach to financial literacy, it doesn't engage the student and it doesn't change their behavior.  The vehicle of a game has been turned into a conclusion- it, we believe, is the solution to really get kids reflecting on their financial decisions and behaviors.

      6) How does this help me as a game designer if I am already successful?

      For those at the starting out or mid-way through their careers this will be a great opportunities to interact with top tier professionals in a networking environment and show off how good you are at game design. We have well known judges like Alex Offerman (ex Tomb Raider), Brian Backus (ex-Disney) and a number of other high profile game industry veterans as both judges and to see your demos on Sunday night.

      For those of you who are successful and are considering starting your own studios, hiring others for your teams at a job you have at a larger publisher, or simply want to connect with your peers and solve an interesting problem this is still the event for you.

      And of course money doesn’t hurt, though if you don’t want it we can send it to charity for you. :)

      7) What is the judging criteria?

      Take a look at What are the requirements to win on this page

      8) What is the end platform for the game?

      Mobile platform is something we are interested in, but the final product could be for multiple platforms. You are definitely not limited to mobile or anything else.

      9) What is being judged?

      A game design pitch in front of the judges. We are not expecting a completely polished design as you only have a weekend.

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