Game Jams

Game Jams are a great way to bring invention, collaboration, and deeper learning to your classroom. Take a look to learn how this is possible!

What is a Game Jam?

A Game Jam happens when individuals come together to build a game prototype within a defined time frame, usually between 24-48 hours. Games can be digital, board, or card games. Games created at a Game Jam at times address a specific theme or content area.

Game TypeWhat Participants Do at a Game Jam
Board Game ModificationModify existing board or card game to fit the Game Jam theme.
Paper PrototypeCreate a paper prototype of a future digital game, no programming needed.
Traditional Board or Card GameBuild a new board or card game from scratch using art materials.
Basic Digital GameCreate a digital game using a game design toolkit, such as Scratch, GameSalad, or Gamestar Mechanic.
Advanced Digital GameDesign a digital game using advanced game design software, such as Unity or GameMaker: Studio.

Why should I host a Game Jam?

Game Jams:

  • Simulate real world, design team experiences
  • Explore  individual talents and interests
  • Provide opportunities for creative problem solving
  • Apply content knowledge
  • Deepen critical thinking skills

Using a set of actions, individuals design a game by defining game actions, presenting a problem to solve, and devising obstacles to overcome to create an engaging and playable game.

How do I host a Game Jam?

“I think the best way to have a game jam is an in-school field trip.”  —Mary Wilson, Elizabeth Forward High School

It’s very easy to hose a Game Jam! Start by choosing a theme.

Example Game Jam Themes:

Many content topics can be explored during a Game Jam, from simple math concepts to serious games enriched with deep content. Here are some examples:

Content AreaGame Jam Theme
SciencePhotosynthesis
EnglishTypes of Poetry
MathOrder of Operations
HistoryAncient Silk Road

Where should I hold a Game Jam?

Game Jam Locations

Game Jams take place anywhere there are excited participants. Game Jams can be held at museums, community centers, conference centers, libraries, and classrooms. When choosing your location, think about what you will need:

  • Technology for your Game Jam (computer and Internet access)
  • Work spaces for building and playtesting games
  • Seating as well as space to move around

Thinking about hosting a Game Jam? Take a look to see what just might happen!

 

Coordinating with a Larger Game Jam Event

Doing a quick Internet search can help you find regional, national, and global Game Jam events. Below are links to a few popular Game Jam events:

When hosting a Game Jam in conjunction with a larger Game Jam event, it is important to check the rules and restrictions of the event, including types of games allowed, age levels, and time frames.

Hosting your own Game Jam

Consider the following questions:

  • What types of games will be made?
  • What supplies will be available?
  • What time constraints will be placed on your Game Jam?
  • What special features will you choose to include in your Game Jam?

What Resources Do I Need to Hold a Game Jam?

Suggested Game Types

Game TypeWhat Participants Do at a Game Jam
Board Game ModificationModify existing board or card game to fit the Game Jam theme.
Paper PrototypeCreate a paper prototype of a future digital game, no programming needed.
Traditional Board or Card GameBuild a new board or card game from scratch using art materials.
Basic Digital GameCreate a digital game using a game design toolkit, such as Scratch, GameSalad, or Gamestar Mechanic.
Advanced Digital GameDesign a digital game using advanced game design software, such as Unity or GameMaker: Studio.

Supplies

Before running to the store, think about the types of games your students will be making: Digital or Board or Card Game.

Suggested Board and Card Game SuppliesSuggested Digital Game Design Software
Paper
Scissors
Cardboard
Old card decks
Old game pieces
Drawing utensils
Old game boards
Erasers, stones, marbles
Unity 3D
Scratch
Minecraft
GameSalad
Java Game Maker
GameMaker: Studio
Gamestar Mechanic
Notes
Students may need additional materials to create their
games. As the host of the Game Jam you may choose to allow participants to use outside materials.
Students should have working knowledge of the chosen software.

Time Constraints

Traditional Game Jams usually last between 24 and 48 consecutive hours. Your time constraints may be more flexible than the traditional Game Jam depending on the following:

Working with a Game Jam EventHosting Your Own Game Jam
Check the event webpage for time constraints. You choose the time constraints. Examples may include any variation of the following:
Class time
After school
Weekend meetings
Full day out of regular classes

Special Features

Many Game Jams involve speakers to provide information to the participants.

Speakers May Include

  • Game Designers
  • Content Professionals
    • Writers
    • Scientists
    • Historians
    • Mathematicians

Methods of Delivery May Include

  • Presenting at Game Jam
  • Video Conferencing
    • Skype
    • Google Hangout
  • Pre-recorded videos via Youtube

 

Start Jamming!

Share the Game Jam parameters with your class and start your Game Jam!

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