How to Game Jam: A tidbit of knowledge

What is the Global Game Jam?


The Global Game Jam is an ultra rich game development experience that is “Jammed” into one short weekend. Daring and creative individuals gather around the world spanning 75 different countries and participate in the making of games over a 48 hour window. The beginning of the Jam is marked by the announcement of the theme. The theme and the timeframe are in place to cultivate the creativity and innovation of you as a developer of any skill level, to achieve making a game with these constraints!

See our Event page on the Global Game Jam for more info!

How to participate: 


In order to participate in the Game Jam you first have to register an account at the Global Game Jam Website. For now don’t worry about teams, you will be able to form your dream team on the day, but who knows, with the Game Jam you may end up working with someone you never expected.

Once your account is made pick your Jam Site and you are ready to go. The rest of the participation process only requires you to be excellent to your fellow Jammers and do what you enjoy about game development.

As far as registration goes the Game Jam is open to all who are willing to exercise their creativity, and put their weekend on the line in the name of making games.

How to get prepared:


Prepare for some knowledge: Preparing for a Game Jam is no easy feat. You will need your essentials, food and food. Once that is gathered you will need your food. Food is very important. We want you to stay fed and sleep enough, so to not exert yourself it is a good idea to prepare a way of getting home to sleep periodically.

If you have equipment you would like to bring to the site that is totally fine, Just be sure to let your Jam Site know. Remember though Media Design School offers great worklabs kitted out with everything you will need to make a game.

As far as preparation goes there is little more you can do as the theme will be announced when the Game Jam begins at 5pm on the Friday the 29th. So make sure your tools are nice and sharp, your brain is nice and polished, and your shoelaces are nice and tight.

The Sleep Technique: 


Prepare for some knowledge: If this is your first Game Jam you may be tempted to be a steamroller of a game developer for the whole weekend, with a “sleep is for the weak” approach.

But I can tell you that the most effective method for tackling those 48 hours is to sleep well. If not both nights then at least on the first night, the night of the 29th.

The reason for this is that the 29th is the day that you will be deciding what game you are going to make, it is also the shortest day as the theme is not announced until 5pm. We recommend sleeping on this first night so you can sleep on your ideas and come with a fresh perspective to start work on the first full day of the Jam.

From experience, by trying to stay up all 48 hours you and/or your teammates will start falling apart into hysterical sleepiness.

The Importance of Scope:


Prepare for some knowledge: Scoping a project is vital to game development, especially in a Game Jam. To scope is to simplify your game to the point where it is something you can create in 48 hours. This may unfortunately mean putting some of those super juicy features aside for the time being until the heart of the game is made.

Bigger doesn’t always mean better, and some of the best games are built on simple mechanics and art.

There is nothing stopping you from adding all that super juice to the game after the Jam is complete. But for the sake of those 48 hours, it is a good idea to scope your game small, if not for morale than to say you have created a game in a short span of time, just wait until I make it super juicy.

The Theme, keep it Secret, keep it Safe:

Prepare for some knowledge: The Theme is an integral part of the Global Game Jam, it gets us working and helps us scope our projects. But, did you know we in New Zealand are the first to know the precious theme. It’s ours it is. Our precious.

So with that in mind we must not divulge the theme until the last country, Hawaii, announces the theme. Keep it away from Twitter, Facebook and just the internet in general lest we lose our precious.

Keep it Secret, keep it Safe.

What happens during the days?

The first day, Friday the 29th, is when a lot of things happen before you can start Jamming.

  • First of all you will be checking in with your site so they can keep track of who to let in and out of the building over the 48 hour period.
  • There will then be some announcements and general housekeeping to get everyone up to speed on the Game Jam and the rules surrounding it.
  • At Five o’clock is the moment you have been waiting for, the announcement of the Theme.
  • From this point on the Game Jam has officially begun and you can start jamming, however there will be opportunities for those looking for a group to pitch to the other jammers and party up!

The second day, Saturday the 30th, is all about jamming:

  • Now it is up to you to make that game! The Jam sites will be open all weekend long for you to schedule yourselves and get to jamming.

The third and final day, Sunday the 31st, is when you can show what you have been jamming on over the last 48 hours:

  • On the third day of the Jam you will have until 5pm to submit your game to the Game Jam site, it is important to do this and let us know what your game is all about and who worked on it.
  • From about the time of submission there will be presentations to show your fellow jammers what you have cooked up over the last 48 hours.


 – How do I register?

To register go to the Global Game Jam Website, create yourself an account there and find your local Jam Site under Locations. We highly recommend looking for one in New Zealand.

After finding your location hit that Join button and you have registered. You should soon receive an email from your Jam Site to confirm this. It is also a good idea to bring a form of identification on the day, for security reasons.

 – I have a sweet rig, can I bring it to the Jam?

You most certainly can, just be sure to look carefully in your email as there will be two options for those of you attending the Auckland Jam. You will need to specify that you are bringing your own equipment so we can get our staff to set up appropriately.

 – Can I sleep at the Jam?

As mentioned before we recommend that you organise a way of returning home/find accommodation for sleeping. Sleep is very important, however Media Design School has no beds or dorm rooms so sleeping may prove difficult there.

 – I have never made a game, can I still participate?

Heck yeah you can! The Global Game Jam is a wealth of knowledge and experience and it is open to everyone willing to try something new. Even without Game Development experience you can still be valuable to your team.

 – Can I register a team?

Unfortunately no, the Global Game Jam only takes individuals during registration. The team aspect comes in when you form up after the theme is announced. You then associate your team members with the project upon completion, that way we know who worked on it and where they made it.

 – Is it too late to register?

No way, registration should still be open until the last day Friday the 29th.

 – Can I make a board game or a tabletop game?

You most certainly can! Physical games are always supported by the Global Game Jam.

 – Who made the awesome pug pictures?

These were made by Claire Chin, an Auckland based Game Art student.

Global Game Jam Event | @globalgamejam | | Official Website

Sam Batty

Game Art student and Event Goblin, Sam keeps an eye on the upcoming events relating to games and the IGDA NZ.

More Posts

Follow Me:

Tagged with:     , ,

About the author /

Game Art student and Event Goblin, Sam keeps an eye on the upcoming events relating to games and the IGDA NZ.

Post your comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *