Pre-Train Jam Thoughts

Ever since I started planning Train Jam it’s been occupying my brain in some capacity – most times at the forefront and sometimes further back in the deep dark pockets of my mind. I wrote about where the idea for Train Jam came from way back in November after I first launched the official website and began selling tickets, and it’s interesting to see how far this event has come since then.

I originally went into the planning stages of Train Jam hoping that at least 20 people would participate (as that was the minimum to get the group discount) and constructed all sorts of contingency plans to refund money/cancel the reservation if there was no interest. I was convinced that there would be no way to get enough people on board with this idea.

And here we are – almost 60 participants signed up, multiple press outlets covering the event, and when I meet new people, they’ve heard of this thing I’ve done and know who I am. I’m excited for all the attention that this has gotten, but it’s also made me incredibly nervous. I’ve worked on big things before – large games, small games, weather satellites, MEGABOOTH – but this is my first big solo thing. I wasn’t prepared for people to pay attention to it, so now my mind is stuck worrying about all the things that could go wrong.

Especially the things that are out of my control. Those are the things that are worrying me the most. What if this is somehow, in some way, against Amtrak’s rules? What if no one has any fun? What if I’ve made some huge oversight?

Then, of course, there’s the fact that I’m sitting in the airport writing this entire blog post for one simple reason – my flight to Chicago has been heavily delayed due to weather. I’ve had reports of participants’ flights being delayed and, in some cases, even canceled. I know that there’s nothing I can do about weather, but still – C’MON CHICAGO, get your shit together.

So yeah, I’m not sure what the point of this post is – I just wanted to jot some thoughts down pre-jam while sitting here.

If this event is a ‘success’ (I use that term loosely, because how does one really define success in this case), then I plan on running it every year. In successive years, I would love to make it bigger and ultimately get it to a point where I can also make it more affordable. I had wonderful sponsors this year (thanks Unity, YoYoGames, Your Karma, and Playvue!), but sponsorship was something that I didn’t even consider until I realized just how far in the financial hole that I had put myself organizing this (thanks to my severe underestimation of eventbrite and PayPal fees). With more foresight, I’m hoping that next year I can gain the support of enough different companies to offset the organizational costs, the ticket costs, and still be able to provide amenities such as snacks, coffee, soda, etc.

I’m so pleased to have gotten backing from any companies this year – especially as this is Train Jam’s inaugural year. I’m basically a nobody who came out of the woodwork, concocted this silly idea, and proceeded to ask large companies for equipment and money. The fact that these companies were beyond excited to support this endeavor is really really amazing to me.

I have no real conclusion to this post – maybe I’ll update it as I continue to sit here, but for now, I’ll just end this with this picture of me freaking out over Skype about plane delays and cancellations


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