Above: screenshot from Forest Walk (by itch.io user erbridge), one of this year's Slow Game Jam entrants.
The slow movement—started in 1986 as a reaction to the opening of a McDonald's in Rome's historic Piazza di Spagna—is a protest, of sorts, against everything fast. Fast means haste, haste means less care, and less care means lower quality. Slow, in this case, means savoring things, taking the time to craft with quality, nurturing and caring for things as if we have all the time in the world.
It's with this philosophy in mind that the Slow Game Jam was created. It's a jam that prioritizes "getting away from instant gratification" and taking the time to let things "develop and mature". Those are quotes from the itch.io page where one can find the Slow Game Jam submissions so far, ranging from simple, beautiful visual experiences like the lovely, procrastinatory Halcyon, to "walking simulators" like the soothing, calming Forest Walk and map-making island exploration game Chill and Chart.
Many of the Slow Jam games are of the "walking simulator" variety, and it's a shame that the genre name itself is so unpleasantly dismissive, because the most interesting of these games are changing the landscape of play. Since the release of The Chinese Room's Dear Esther, the slow, pensive game that inspired a hundred imitators, there's been a revolution in slow gaming (alongside the wider movement in food, cinema, and other avenues).
We're resisting the stress and strain of a fast-paced life by setting aside time to soak in good experiences, like deciding to have a bath instead of a shower. The chaos of an Overwatch match can thrill us, but walking through the idyllic, calming village of Yaughton in Everybody's Gone to the Rapture or rolling around as a horse in David OReilly's Everything is a different experience—the difference as stark as eating ceviche after a Big Mac.
Slow Jam might just have been a short weekend of experimentation, but it's clear that the slow movement is making its way—slowly—into games. Set aside an hour or two and explore the soft and gentle snail's pace of a game that doesn't need to rush.