Game jams are game-making competitions, which push you to your limits by setting brutal constraints, usually time-wise. For example, the goal of a game jam could be to create a game in 48 hours.
What are game jams?
Game jams are, in most cases, events hosted by other game developers, usually taking place over the internet. Their goal is to push your creativity, by setting a series of rules. One of the most important rules is the time over which the game jam takes place. On the lower extreme, some game jams take only 10 minutes – can you imagine making a game in 10 minutes? It was the channel Brackeys who started this challenge with his video.
On the other extreme are the game jams that take up months. In most cases, though, game jams don’t reach these extremes. The standard is 48 hours, usually over a weekend.
Some jams allow making games in teams, others push you to create the game alone, even going to the lengths of forbidding using assets created by other people. This means that you have only the set time to make all the art, animation, code, music, and much more!
Why should you participate in game jams?
There are many pros in taking up the challenge of game jams. The most surface benefit is the fact that some game jams offer rewards to the winners, such as the Shacknews Jam, which offers a total of $700 in the prize pool. However, most game jams don’t offer prizes.
Perhaps the greatest benefit is you gaining the experience of creating a game in such a short time. This is the main reason I like game jams so much; they challenge me as a game developer.
You also get to create a prototype of a game, which you can then expand on, and even release commercially!
Game jams can also be beneficial if you’re just starting out as a game developer – diving right into it might beat the initial anxiety of starting a game project.
Best known game jams
Some jams are giant events, that hundreds, even thousands of game developers participate in. Here are some of the biggest jams.
Ludum Dare is one of the longest-running jams in the world. Every six month, they challenge developers to create a game from scratch in a weekend. The rules of Ludum Dare are pretty brutal if you’re planning on participating in the “hard-mode” of the jam. You have only 48 hours to create a game, solo, from scratch, including every piece of art, music, code, everything.
If that’s too difficult for you (I don’t blame you), you can participate in the easier version – in this version, you have 72 hours, you can work in a team, and you can use assets that were made outside of the time of the jam, or created by other people.
Global Game Jam
The Global Game Jam is probably the biggest game jam happening on physical locations in over 100 countries. Every year, around January, thousands of people meet up at designated locations and make awesome games in the span of one weekend. In 2019, over 9000 games were created in those two days.
One Hour Game Jam
As the title suggests, this jam takes places in the span of only one hour. The One Hour Game Jam happens every Saturday at 8 PM UTC, and always has a theme picked by the community. After each jam, there’s a Twitch stream showcasing every game made – which gives you a lot of exposure for free and provides you with valuable feedback.
You can get a checklist of some more awesome jams, as well as a ton of other free stuff by subscribing to my newsletter, and joining the Eledris community!
Should you host your own game jam?
I’d say definitely! It might be a stressful experience, but it’s a great one. You get to meet a lot of wonderful like-minded people, and it’s a nice step if you’re trying to build a community. I hosted over 15 jams, most of which were done for the Chronicles GameDev Challenge. I’d like to host more in the future!
What are some of your favorite game jams? Would you like some tips on how to host one? Feel free to tell us in the comment section!