Self-Care Jam has just finished its second year of existence, and it’s just as much of a breath of fresh air as it was during its debut in 2016.
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“It's been quite a stressful time for a lot of us,” reads the text on the itch.io jam page—an understatement, really, looking back on the hellscape that was 2017—but Self-Care Jam 2 promises a respite from all that. “No competition, no risk, and no pressure…make a game, write a poem, knit a sweater, draw a picture, compose a song, or do anything else that you would enjoy. It doesn't need to be about the state of the world, or something that makes the people that play it feel happy. This is just for you.”
And yet, the entries feel like they were made with you in mind, given that so many of them attempt to calm or cheer you. There is Little Birdy, a short little platformer-poem that offers sweet little snippets of prose as you fly around; dreamtune, a more musical version of those rain noise apps; a cup of tea, a simple 3D animation of a brewing cup of tea that, despite not doing anything, felt like meditation; and Fox Village, a janky-but-nice Tamagotchi-style game about feeding voxel foxes (voxes?) until they like you.
My favorite, however, was Chasing Birds. Tea and birds are common themes in this year’s Self-Care Jam, so Chasing Birds was comfortingly on-brand, but rather than playing a person - myself, usually—I was playing a dog with bent pipe-cleaner legs, bounding around a rather nice park and, as the title suggests, chasing birds away.
I wish I was a dog, sometimes; when life is stressful and the world is cold. I think about how nice it would be to be amused by something as simple as chasing birds, to live a life in which your sole purpose is to be loved briefly but intensely, by people who talk to you as if I were special.
None of the Self-Care Jam entries are particularly long or story-driven, but they all exist to make you feel ok for just a moment—to treat you like a dog, in the best way, for just five minutes.