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Want to get into game jams? Here's how

Game jams. They’re here, they’re important, and you should take part. It’s not a secret that we love jams at itch.io. We host them, write about them, consult on them, and track them. Many members of our team join jams on the regular, but there’s one thing we haven’t done with jams yet: explain why you should join one.

If you’re not already aware, game jams are limited time game development sprints usually centered around a theme. These can be as obscure as Ludum Dare’s “Running out of power” or can center around an engine like RPGmaker and force teams to think creatively within hard constraints.

But surely no one can make a great game in just a few days, right? Wrong. Dead wrong. Many teams have crafted interesting and valuable projects as part of a jam. We’ll have a post featuring some of the gems from this past weekend’s Ludum Dare up later this week, but many teams go on to polish their jam submissions and release high profile games like Titan Souls, Goat Simulator, and Superhot.

But back to the meat of this, why should you care about game jams? By all accounts they’re fun. Struggling to make something work alongside a team is at worst a bonding experience, at best a way to learn something new about yourself and others while making a neat game. You also have the opportunity to meet new people. There are dozens of Facebook groups and sites like Crowdforge dedicated to connecting people in advance of game jams.

There’s also the opportunity to grow. Game jams are the lowest stake to learn a new skill. If your project turns out a little broken or janky, that’s ok! It’s hard to expect AAA levels of polish out of a small team over 2 days, so bugs are easily forgiven. You can also explore ideas that you wouldn’t normally have time to devote months to!

There are tons of resources for people interested in getting in to jamming. We put up a post just last week cataloging some of our favorite tools, but there are scores of other tips and guides available. The community is also known for being helpful and supportive of newcomers and I’ve personally seen many of the more well known jammers offer support and answers on Twitter.

So what steps do you have to take in order to join a jam? The list is very short. Basically: Find a game jam, get some friends together, make a game. Hey, if you’re multi-talented you can skip the second step entirely. Need more help? We have a list of all of the upcoming jams in a sweet gantt chart.

There’s never been a better time to join a game jam and it’s never been easier to create something quickly.

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Help a poor orphan win some hearts before sleep takes him.
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Ludum Dare 38
A Wave Synthesis Puzzle Platformer set in a Dystopian Future
Puzzle