A game jam is a gathering of game developers in person or online that creates a game in a short amount of time, usually between 1 and 3 days. You can participate as an individual but it’s much more fun in a team consisting of different game development disciplines such as programmers, artists, designers and audio engineers.
Game Jams teach you the full development process of a game (planning, designing, developing, testing) in a stupidly short amount of time. The term “trial by fire” comes to mind. You receive the theme (a rough guideline you interpret for your game) at the beginning of the jam and work from there.
To Learn - Your first game jam you are going to learn about Scope, cutting features, dirty hacks that saves hours of “doing it properly”. Everything will take 4 times longer than you planned which makes getting the bare minimum the key task done in the allocated time.
Learning a new language or technology could be a big motive for you, the very first time I used Unity was for GGJ 2012 and I’ve never looked back ;).
You might be a programmer wanting to art or an artist wanting to try your hand at a dab of programming, now is the time to learn. It doesn’t matter what level you consider yourself, everyone will learn something new during the jam.
To meet new people - The best game jams for me are the ones people participate in person, not online. It forces you to interact with people, create a team of strangers, share creative ideas and make crucial group decisions to complete the game on time. You might meet members of your next development team over this period.
Experimentation - Try weird and wonderful things, crazy ideas you’ve had for a long time, custom controllers, anything that you’ve not got round to prototyping, now is the time! You’re going to think of lots of ideas and end up scraping 90% of everything, but remember to write those down for inspiration later on other projects.
Opportunity – some of the most successful indie titles stemmed from Game Jam prototypes, one of the most notable is Surgeon Simulator by Bossa Studios back in 2013. Many commercial games were conceived at game jams, maybe yours will be the next hit! How often are you going to have so many game developers in the same place ready to play your game and give constructive feedback where you can take it next?
Have Fun! – Remember to have fun, what other form of entertainment can consumers interact with so much? Being a game developer is awesome and seeing how it can all come together in such a short amount of time is rewarding as hell. It’s not a contest with each other, you’re making the best game you can possibly make against the time.
So we at Unity are gearing up for Global Game Jam and being a global sponsor. We have various employees across the world taking part.
I’ll be visiting Asset Jesus aka Kenney Wings at Kenney Land in Kerkrade, my alter ego (no one has ever seen us in the same room) Andy Touch will be at the Hamar Games Collective in Norway and many other Unity people will be in various other destinations around the world.
Our EMEA team will be in the UK (Brighton, York, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Hatfield, Oxford), Norway (Hamar), Netherlands (Kerkrade), Denmark (Copenhagen) and Lithuania (Vilnius).
Our America’s team will be in N.America (New York, Seattle), Canada (Montreal, Vancouver), Mexico (Guadalajara) and Brazil (Curitiba).
And our Asia teams will be in Japan (Shibuya), Australia (Melbourne) and Taiwan (Taipei).
All and all, we have about 40 Unity staff helping at #GGJ16 around the world!
The Global Game Jam is not the only game jam worth taking part in. Our evangelist team visit and take part in many game-jams each year. here’s a few notable ones.
So if you’re thinking about ever doing a game jam in person or online, do it!
Check out our Learn site for our game jam menu template to save some development time.
Josh is one of our EMEA evangelists who spends the majority of his time connecting with our community online and in person.