When they met, it was all holding hands and chocolate milk. Now Lauren Vincelli and Will Blanton are fostering Richmond’s indie game scene.
The story of RVA Game Jams’ founders begins in the fifth grade when they met at a dance. They dated — as far as it goes at that age — before the onset of adolescence, and attending different schools led to drifting apart.
As adults, the duo ran into each other while singing karaoke, and soon founded RVA Game Jams, a collective that encourages the creation of independent video games. Every two weeks it holds events including workshops, lectures and game design competitions. Members who previously couldn’t program are now crafting games of their own invention.
“We started RVA Game Jams so that we could provide a supportive space and community for people to explore game development,” Vincelli says.
Events have attracted anywhere from 20 to 70 members, and three times a year, the collective participates in Ludum Dare, an international competition in which contestants have 48 hours to create a game from scratch.
It’s already proven to be a banner year for Blanton and Vincelli: They were named Creative Catalysts at C3’s RVA Creativity Awards; Blanton received first place overall out of 2,821 entries in the Ludum Dare 32 competition for his game “Bedhogg.” He also released “Redshift Blueshift,” a game he’s been developing for the past year with co-programmer Alan McCosh. Perhaps best described as “Pong with spaceships,” Blanton recently debuted “Redshift” at the EGX gaming festival in the United Kingdom.
“It’s been received extremely well, although the sales are amazingly bad,” Blanton says, laughing. “It’s a result of neither my partner nor myself knowing much about marketing, but all the reviews have been extremely positive, so we’re happy about that.”