Successful Game Jamming


At a recent Dirty Rectangles Show and Tell, I took part in a two hour game jam. This was the second game jam that I’ve taken part in, but I have attended many over the last few years.

I’ve seen a lot of successes and failures and made a number of mistakes myself, but this attempt turned out great and I’d like to share my approach so that people new to the experience might have a higher chance for success their first time through.

Here’s a couple of things to keep in mind when game jamming:

  • Come with one or two genre or gameplay concepts in mind: there’s rarely enough time to design something new from the ground up.
  • Come ready with whatever technology will best help you in creating a game of your chosen genre and gameplay concepts. Game engines, drawing frameworks, etc. are all helpful if chosen wisely.
  • Don’t refine your concept beforehand: let it be rough around the edges so you can mould it more easily to the game jam’s theme.
  • Keep the project small-scale (obviously). You don’t have much time!
  • Keep the game experience short: people will probably only play your game for about 5 minutes at most. If you have the extra time, focus on adding extra polish and quality rather than quantity to impress your players.

But remember: a game jam is a great low investment opportunity to try totally new things, so if you’re a more seasoned game jammer or are content with taking larger risks, the experience can still prove to be successful regardless of whether you use these techniques.