Upcoming Game Jams in early 2015
While some of us are still recovering from Ludum Dare 31’s spectacular showing just a few weeks ago, many of you are no doubt considering getting into games development yourselves. The easiest way to do this? Make a game. Any game. The next question is, what’s the best environment to make a game? In my experience, the answer to that is to join a game jam. Luckily, there are plenty of great game jams going on all around the world at various points during the year, here’s a few of the biggest that are open for anyone to join over the next few months.
The biggest game Jam in the world in regards sheer number of participants, Global Game Jam is exactly what you might expect from its name. The Global Game Jam is not an online event like Ludum Dare, and takes place in various real-world meetups annually across the globe, meaning you can only participate as part of one of these meetups. It starts at all locations at 5pm local time on January 23rd and goes on for 48 hours after that. Each Global Game Jam has a theme that is the same across all locations and is announced privately to each meetup when their event starts. To be part of GGJ you you need to register in advance with the location that you plan to Jam at, and it is recommended you join the jam without a team to encourage collaboration among people you have not necessarily met before.
GGJ is similar in a few ways to Ludum Dare, as it has a single theme shared amongst all participants and takes place over 48 hours, but is also quite different in many aspects as well. Firstly, you have to be at one of the locations to participate. A Jam location needs to have signed up well in advance (usually by the November before the Jam) and there are several requirements that must be fulfilled for a location to be considered to ensure that Jammers have access to adequate facilities during the event. You can also choose to make non digital games (board games!) if you so choose. There is also no open voting for themes or judging period after the Jam. Games are simply posted on the site and can be played.
These differences don’t take away anything from GGJ however, and while I perhaps wouldn’t recommend it for your first game jam, it’s certainly bound to be a great experience for any budding games developers. The signup periods are still open, so if you fancy a go, find a location and get in there quick before they close!
Looking for something a little more casual? How about this : A game jam that lasts much longer than most jams (in this case, a whole month) where the only restriction is that yourgame should be named, or based on, a previously existing game, but with the title backwards. The idea for this game jam came about when some bright spark noticed that there was a game out called StoneHearth, which is of course, an inversion of the popular online card game HearthStone by Blizzard Entertainment.
This jam has already started, but you can get involved at any time, and there’s a good sized community on itch.io and on #jamgamegamejam on twitter. Pick your favourite game, reverse the name and get stuck in!
Another Jam taking place on itch.io’s developer community, the idea of datemate jam is simple. Make a game with your significant other (or best friend!) in the 10 days after February 14th, valentines day! There is no theme, but it is encouraged to base your game on a theme that is significant to your relationship. The only other requirement is that all members of the relationship contribute to the game in some way. Other then that, the rules are pretty open, for instance it does not state the relationship must be between only two people, so I assume groups of more than two ‘special friends’ are allowed!
The 7 day roguelike challenge has been around for quite some time now, and used to be a challenge that could be undertaken at any time of the year. Recently however, an annual jam has sprung up for the challenge to give it a more focused feel. The challenge is thus : You have 168 hours to make a roguelike from scratch. Generally this means your game should have randomisation or procedural generation, permadeath and turn based movement and combat, although clever variations on these rules are allowed.
While specific dates for 2015 have not been posted yet, the website lists 2014’s dates as March 8th to the 16th, so I would assume it would take place this year at a similar time.
The next Ludum Dare takes place on April 17th, with of course theme voting, real world gathering signups and much more taking place before the event date, but the Ludum Dare site has plenty of mini events going on before then, mostly thanks to the excellent LD community. The current MiniLD 56 has a pick’n’mix theme, where a large array of themes are listed and you can pick from them to make up a game idea.
There’s a decent mix of game jams there out there to join over the next few months, and this is just a small fistful of the opportunities out there. Have a search around the internet and see what jam feels right for you, but whatever you do, if you’re interested in starting games development, now is certainly a good time to get into it, and a jam is one of the best ways to get started.