Game jamming? Why you should be.
I gave a talk sometime ago at the MakeGamesSA Johannesburg meetup outlining my opinions why everyone should be game jamming. So, I thought I’d put pen to paper (metaphorically speaking) and write a post of my reasoning.
Failing is Okay
Often when I ask someone why they aren’t game jamming this weekend or any other particular event I get the, “I don’t know enough for me to come out with a game in x amount of time”. So, firstly failing is okay. Global Game Jam (GGJ) last year with Kevin Marais was my first game jam. We didn’t even submit our turd sandwich of a game but out of the process we learnt where our skills were lacking. Which were everywhere. I was pretty sad because my expectations of the weekend were really high. It was okay, we recovered and begun upskilling.
Learn New Skills
Over the next few months after GGJ we (Kevin and I) participated in Ludum Dare (LD) 29 and 30. As 2 programmers on the team we needed to figure out how to create art assets for the game. So, I took up the challenge of learning how to use Gimp and creating the assets for both Alien Lobotomy and A Hat’s Trick.
I love collaborating with new people! Game jams are the perfect environment to meet and work with new people. The game industry is, for the most part, different teams making games. So, knowing how to work in a team and communicate is very important. Which you can get better at, especially under the tough conditions of a game jam. Over the months following LD 30 I made Beardo, Machine Gun Football, and the latest Safari Rampage with new people.
From left to right Me, Kevin, and Alessandro (Global Game Jam, 2015)
I’d just to single out my latest game jam where Kevin and I got to collaborate with Saschen Reddy on sound design. We learnt a lot about the intricacies of Wwise and it’s problems with source control over multiple platforms. But what I’d like to mention is that after this game jam I thought to my “If someone asked me who they should hire for sound, Sash would be the first person I’d mention”. This is just to say that during collaborations you could make opportunities for yourself in the industry.
Building a Portfolio
We all know how the games industry is about portfolios, showing what you can do. Doing game jams is an easy way to build a portfolio of games. So, far most of the games on my portfolio are game jams.
Fresh New Ideas
Flesh out some of those ideas you’ve got during a game jam. Double Fine’s Amnesia Fortnight is a great example, where the company stops working on their current project and they game jam. During these game jams Double Fine has been able to produce games that eventually get released commercially. Game jamming can help you or your studio have a project after what you’re currently working on.
Exposure and dollar dollar bills, yoh!
Beyond the game jam your jam game could get picked up, gain mass appeal and be like many others become a commercially viable product that you know has an audience. Even if your game jam game isn’t commercially viable it could shine light to you and your current project. We all could do with a little more exposure. :)