For people who have been curious about game jams, trust me, DO THEM. There are very few times to trust a stranger, and this may be the first blog of mine you read, but other then when your chocking on a chicken wing and need a good Heimlich, THIS is one of those times.
If you don’t know how game jams work, here’s a quick rundown:
- You sign up for a jam.
- At the beginning of jam, the event holder posts a theme which could be a word or phrase.
- Every participant starts at the same time creating a game out of their interpretation of the theme.
Give or take whether the jam is only allowed to be attended from a specific place or anywhere with an internet connection; and whether it takes place over a weekend or longer.
When anyone asks, I always recommend short weekend-length game jams. Within 48 hours, It’s an opportunity to practice your skills in a small throw away project, with a tight time pressure to keep you focused. You practice skills in efficient development, be it efficient asset use, scoping slim, mastering some hyper speed prototyping and learning development shortcuts you’ll know like the back of a video game racetrack.
Now that’s some good game jammin’!
The hugest benefit is the inspiration/restrictions the themes provide. The on the spot improvisation tends to get you out of any creative slump you’ve been stuck in. Tons of inspired fantastic ideas and tons of incredibly fun dumb ideas get born all the time.
In 2014’s Great Canadian Appathon, a mobile only game jam competition, I was part of a team that ended up making an endless runner with size change as the main mechanic. It affected your jump height, allowed you to smash through walls and fit under obstacles. With this concept, we won the competition’s $25,000 prize. I met great talented people, some I worked with again and are still great friends with.
Its actual title was Size Matters, and yes that was my hair, I didn’t win everything that day.
Which brings me to the great side benefits. If you were looking to do a jam as a team, it just so happens that when a bunch of people all arrive to do the same thing, finding some new friends tends to be easy. Not to mention, all of your throw away projects can also be your prototypes. Super Hot, Surgeon Simulator, Snake Pass, were all wonderfully quirky games that started their life in a game jam and went on to success as fully developed releases.
You ready to check one out? Well don’t worry about looking for one, because there’s one running virtually every day. An easy place to find one is through the game jam calendar on: http://www.indiegamejams.com/