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Indie Galactic Space Jam

The second annual Indie Galactic Space Jam kicked off last night at the Melrose Center with mingling, cocktails, and keynotes. Now through Sunday, video game developers, artists, programmers, and scientists will be working feverishly to brainstorm, pitch, and develop space-themed video games.

We caught up with Kunal Patel, one of the Indie Galactic Space Jam organizers. Kunal, 32, is the president of Phyken Media, an Orlando-based game development studio, co-founder of Indienomicon, an independent gaming industry community, and the director of innovation at Fattmerchant, a digital payment startup. He is a University of Miami graduate who grew up in Detroit.

What did you like that came out of last year’s Space Jam?

I liked the new connections we made and the mindshare about space we created amongst all the developers in the Central Florida region. A full year later and I still see its effect by either games that were first developed at that event or by teams that became real studios after leaving that weekend. Having 20 space game prototypes come out from the weekend is still mind blowingly impressive to me too. Some were small, some large, some serious, some silly, but it got everyone having fun and thinking about space and science.

Is there anything you are working towards/ hoping to improve this year?

Certainly having more space professionals on hand, with more experience from the attendees we expect even more compelling titles. Also with some of our growing list of sponsors like Space Florida, we’re excited to see what happens after the event. For the first time there is a real opportunity for help to take any standout games to market with real resources, meaning dollars and marketing.

How has the Indie Galactic Space Jam changed since last year, if at all?

We’ve gotten more partnerships with the Space Coast as well we’re getting even more attendance from developers. We’re improving the quality bar as well in all categories, from our venue space to the food. There isn’t any event in this world quite like this, and Orlando is lucky enough to have the talent and infrastructure to support it.

Where did the idea for this event come from?

Last year in a bar over a few drinks, a few of us from the Indienomicon and IGDA Orlando Game Developer communities thought about how space used to be more exciting as kids, and that it didn’t feel that way anymore. We have NASA Kennedy Space Center about 45 minutes away with a large talent base yet there is little to no visible interaction with Orlando. We were living in a bubble. So we took the excitement and community we saw growing within the local indie game industry and focused it on space. We’ve done game jams before, but now we said lets do a Space Jam, so we put it together in about Month and half, nearly killed ourselves in the process but it was well worth it.


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