Boss Rush Banter: Should You Do A Game Jam?

If you’re reading this then you likely enjoy playing video games, and perhaps you’ve been wondering if you could make video games. Maybe just for fun, as a hobby, or maybe more seriously. But what should you do? What should you learn? Should you do a game jam? 

What even is a game jam? A game jam is an event where small teams or individuals attempt to make a video game, usually over a short amount of time, around a theme announced at the beginning of the jam. A similar event in another creative field is the 48 Hour Film Festival for filmmaking. Game jams come in a wide variety of flavors, but that is the gist.  

Obviously you shouldn’t do a game jam if you aren’t interested in the first place. If you don’t want to try making games, then don’t. But if you have an interest in making games, you might not be ready to just jump right into a game jam. If you have zero knowledge about how games are made, and you know nothing about different game engines and their use cases, then you should start with a bit of research. If you don’t have a clear sense of what skills you can bring to making games, then you should think through that. Are you a strong writer? Do you know how to program? Do you like to make music or art? Do you like to design game mechanics? If your life and schedule is full right now, then it may not be the best time to start a game jam. However, if you think you might want to make games, at some point you should strongly consider doing a game jam.

Screenshot of Unity game jam project created by the author.

So you’ve done a bit of reading up about engines and know what role(s) you’d like to take on. You’ve tinkered around in your engine of choice and watched a few tutorial videos. Should you do a game jam now? Maybe you still don’t feel ready yet. It may seem too early, but if you find the right jam, you’re honest with yourself and your teammates, and you start small, then you might find yourself surprised. A game jam is one of the better ways to learn, as you’re actually building something and not just reading and watching bland tutorials. 

In February 2022, I did my first game jam, and since then, I have completed four more. While it was intense, and I need a break now, I learned a lot and highly recommend anyone interested in game dev push themselves a bit to do a game jam.

One of the best places to find game jams is on itch.io. Many jams have Discord servers associated with them which you can join and find teammates. It might seem scary or too hard, but many people doing jams are beginners just like you. If you try and fail, that is actually a success where you’re pretty much guaranteed to learn something.

If you think a game jam is a waste of time, it may be worth noting that some famous games, including Hollow Knight, Snake Pass, and others, started out as game jam projects.

Have you been thinking about doing a game jam? Or do you have experience doing game jams? Tell us about it in the comments below, or join the discussion on the Boss Rush Discord.

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