What's a Game Jam?
Every jam is a little different, but in general, it's an opportunity for a diverse set of game developers to come together in one place and make game prototypes during a 24-48 hour time window. Most jams cater to all skill levels. Teams of 4-6 members are usually randomly chosen at the start of the jam in a way that insures that each team has at least one experienced programmer and one artist.
In general, you can choose the development environment you want to work with (Flash, C#, Unity, C++, Java,...) and game ideas are constrained by a theme that's usually announced the day of the competition to prevent participants from planning too much in advance. While some jams will give awards for the favorite games, you shouldn't think of a jam as a competition. It's an environment where everyone wants everyone else to succeed.
In short, if you want to participate, there's no need to do any advance planning. In fact, it's discouraged. Just show up with a computer and get ready to have some fun.
Can you really build a game in 24-48 hours? There are dozens of game jams every year, collectively producing thousands of prototypes. If you get a motivated team, you'd be shocked at what you can do in such a short time.
With such strict time constraints, there may be times when a game engine just doesn't come together during the alloted time. But of the 20+ teams that I've seen in the past, everyone always at least had something to show at the end of the weekend. And if you do fail, it can still be a valuable learning experience. It's far better to learn a harsh lesson about team dynamics, time management or game engine construction during a 48-hour jam than it is to learn the same tragic lesson after months or years of development.
Upcoming game jams
- October 3-5, 2014: Reddit's Paper Game Jam for paper prototypes
- October 17-19, 2014 in Mountain View, CA: SETI Jam
- October 17-19, 2014: Bacon Jam
- November 11-16, 2014: The Procedural Game Jam
- November 14, 2014 in San Francisco: The Beta Breakers Jam
- January 9-11, 2015 in San Francisco: GXDev, a queer game jam affiliated with GaymerX/GX3
- January 23-25, 2015, worldwide: Global Game Jam
Regularly scheduled jams
Other major events
Previous game jams
- October 28-30, 2010 in Mountain View, CA: TIGJam 3
- November 9, Austin, TX: iPhone Game Jam
- Boston, MA: Previous Boston Game Jams
- Global Game Jam 2010
- April 23-25, 2010, Worldwide: Ludum Dare 17.
- April 23-25, 2010, Gilbert, AZ: Retro Affect 48-hour Game Jam.
- April 23-25, 2010, Toronto: TOJam, 48-hour game jam.
- May 15-16, 2010, Silicon Valley: The WildPockets Game Jam.
- May 29 in San Francisco: The Alpha Team 24-hour Jam.
- June 4-6 in Cambridge, England: TIGJam:UK 3.
- August 6-9, Berlin: BIGJam
- August 20-23, 2010, Worldwide: Ludum Dare 18
- September 17-19, 2010, Victoria, BC: OrcaJam.
- Sept 25, 2010: mini ludum dare 21
- December 10-12, 2010, Worldwide: Reddit Game Jam 4
- January 28-30, 2011, Worldwide: The Global Game Jam.
- April 29-May 2, 2011, Worldwide: Ludum Dare.
- August 6-7, 2011, Los Angeles, CA: IndieCade Mobile 3D GameJam.
- September 16-18, 2011 in Victoria, BC: OrcaJam 2.
- September 19, 2011, Reddit Game Jam.
- October 7-9, 2011 in Eindhoven, The Netherlands: Games [4Health] Jam.
- October 14-15, 2011 in Salt Lake City, UT: Game-In-A-Day at GEEX.
- October 20-23, 2011 in Mountain View, CA: TIGJam 4.
- December 5-12, 2011, Worldwide: Game Prototype Challenge
- December 9-11, 2011, Vienna: Super GameDev Weekend
- January 27-29, 2012, Worldwide: The Global Game Jam. If you're in a big city that isn't hosting a jam venue yet, talk to local universities or game developers to see if you can get someone to sponsor it.
- June 15-17, 2012, Vancouver: Full Indie
- June 22-24, 2012, Sydney: Stealth Jam
- August 24-26, 2012, Victoria, BC: OrcaJam.
- September 28-30, 2012 in Eindhoven, Netherlands: Games4Health Jam.
- All November, 2012, Worldwide: GitHub Game Off.
- November 9-17, 2012, Worldwide: Fuck This Jam, centered around the theme of making a game in a genre you hate.
- March 21-23, 2014, San Francisco: The Games [4Diversity] Jam will explore how feminine concerns and LGBT issues can spark new forms of play.
- June 9-30, 2014: The Air Control Jam
- June 27-29, 2014: Ripples of Change Jam
- July 1-7, 2014: The Spectre Game Jam
- August 31-Sept 13, 2014: The Ruin Jam
- Sept. 12-22, 2014: The Alt Ctrl Game Jam
- Sept. 13-14, 2014 in San Francisco: Blit It Game Jam
- Sept. 27, 2014 in San Mateo, CA: Hackathon of the Heroes
Is something missing our out of date? If you know of an upcoming game jam that isn't listed here, send me details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This website is run by Rob Jagnow of Lazy 8 Studios, one of the guys behind Cogs and Extrasolar.