This jam is now over. It ran from 2021-08-02 15:30:00 to 2021-08-07 23:00:00. View 14 entries




What’s the SAAM Arcade 2021 theme?


At the Smithsonian American Art Museum, when we think about games and art, we think about how interaction can be both an individual experience and an opportunity for communication and connection. Like artworks, games can be solitary, solemn experiences that require a player to be focused and in touch with themselves in a very profound way. Games can also be spaces for fun and excitement, with communities popping up in support of popular franchises, extraordinary players, and multi-player games. Any form of art can encourage conversation and contemplation, both individually and communally, and that’s the spirit of this year’s theme.

To be a bit more specific, we are interested in games that:

     1. Explore the nature and practice of community building.

     2. Consider individuals outside of their communities and the importance of personal, singular experiences.

     3. Offer unique game mechanics or artwork that explores the concepts of community and/or individuality.

Bonus: SAAM Arcade is dedicated to exploring the connections between video games and American visual culture. While this is not a required element of the theme, we encourage participants to draw inspiration from the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and to look to the extraordinary creativity and diversity of American voices as they create games for this jam.


Rules & Guidelines

Who can enter?

SAAM Arcade 2021 Game Jam is an open, online game jam—anyone can enter! Participants can work alone or in groups. There is no size limit for groups. There is no need to sign up in advance. Participants can just join the jam with their account and start creating!

How do I submit a game?

Upload your SAAM Arcade 2021 Game Jam game to . From there you can upload additional files, and details. 

You should make the game available for free or set the cost to “Chose Your Own Amount.” You must set the game as “released.”

Then, go to the SAAM Arcade 2021 Game Jam page on, click “submit game” and choose the game you created from the dropdown box. 

To ensure that your game has been submitted to the jam, please go to your game’s page and look for a badge that says “Submission to the SAAM Arcade 2021 Game Jam” in the top right. If it’s there, you’re in! If not, please try and submit your game again. If problems persist, please visit the Discord server for technical assistance. 

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is partnering with IGDA DC (@igda_dc) to host and moderate a dedicated Discord server throughout the run of the jam. As the local DC chapter of the Independent Game Developers Association, IGDA DC will offer technical assistance to participants and help the long-standing SAAM Arcade community come together virtually and develop new and innovative games.

When should I submit the game?

You can submit a game at any point during the Game Jam period from Monday August 2 to Saturday, August 7, 2021. Until the submission period closes, you can make changes to a submitted jam without needing to resubmit.

When does the jam begin and end?

The SAAM Arcade 2021 Game Jam begins Monday, August 2, 2021 at 11:30 a.m. ET.

The SAAM Arcade 2021 Game Jam ends Saturday August 7, 2021 at 7 p.m. ET.

Submitted games will be available for play on starting Sunday, August 8 and will be available indefinitely!

What can I use to build my game in?

Whatever you like—our only requirement is that the game needs to be uploaded to when submitted and must be free and accessible to any interested players. Print-and-play tabletop games, games for iOS or Android mobile devices, or online games are all welcome.

You can make your game in whatever engine, programming language, or software you like. We recommend engines such as Unity, Game Maker, Godot, PICO-8, Unreal Engine, and Scratch.  You can also use engines designed for specific genres such as RPG Maker or Adventure Game Studio. If you chose to make games for a console or emulator, or that requires additional hardware (a printer, VR headset, specific controller, etc.) please make a note of it on the submission page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make something NSFW?

SAAM Arcade is a family-friendly event. Games should not contain explicit nudity, hateful or derogatory language or visuals, or excessive violence. While there are no limits on your creativity; so long as it fits the jam’s theme, submissions will be monitored, and your game may be removed if it is deemed inappropriate or lacks sufficient context or information about potentially NSFW content. 

As you create, we ask that you consider the theme and the values of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and; our mission statement is available on our website at  We also request that participants review the SAAM Arcade Game Jam Code of Conduct before they participate.

Can I use pre-existing code?

Yes! You can use pre-existing code, libraries, and functions. You can also set up a blank Unity project, a Github page, or your profile in advance. However, we request that you do not write code for this jam in advance.

Jam moderators will try to answer questions regarding rules on the Discord server*, but we may not be able to address every question. Please use your best judgement and remember that this is an open jam focused on experimentation, creativity, and exploration of the theme.

Can I use pre-existing art and/or audio?

Yes! You can use whatever art and audio you have the legal right to use. That means you can use pre-existing sprites, textures, fonts, models, shaders, animations, sound effects, and music. This includes public domain assets, assets you have purchased, assets you have made yourself, or assets that are legally permissible derivative works of existing media. 

We encourage you to take inspiration from the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection! If you want to use artwork images from SAAM just let us know by emailing If you do choose to include a work of art, please remember to include proper image credits found on our website. This includes the title, date, artist name(s), and any listed credit information. 

Please credit your internal team (anyone who made art or audio during the jam) as well as all external art and audio in your game description. 

What if I don’t finish? What if my game is terrible?

This jam is all about exploration and experimentation—and building the community around SAAM Arcade. Think of this jam as the perfect opportunity to try a new art style or play with a new mechanic. Because this jam is unranked, you do not have to worry about uploading something unfinished, unusual, or unpleasant; just focus on having fun and engaging with the theme.


Who can enter? Anyone, regardless of age, experience, or background is welcome (and encouraged) to participate! 

When does the jam begin/end? The SAAM Arcade 2021: Game Jam starts on Monday, August 2, at 11:30 a.m. p.m. ET and closes Saturday, August 7 at 7 p.m.ET. 

What software can I build my game in? Anything you want! Just make sure you include instructions on what software potential players need to make your game work. Games that can operate without additional software or hardware are much appreciated, but there’s no limit on what you can make!

What assets can I use? The vast majority of the game itself must be made during the run of the SAAM Arcade 2021: Game Jam, but you can use whatever art and audio assets you have the legal rights to use.  

Who will judge the games? No one! We are more interested in fostering creativity and conversation, rather than creating a ranking of submitted games. 

Is there a Discord I can join? Yes! We are pleased to announce that a dedicated Discord server will be hosted and moderated by IGDA DC, our local chapter of the Independent Game Developers Association. The Discord will open on Sunday, August 1 at 7 p.m.* Please review the SAAM Arcade Game Jam Code of Conduct before you join the server.

*Please note that you must be 13 or older to join the Discord server.


All submissions
Browser playable (5)
Windows (7)
macOS (3)
Android (1)

No submissions match your filter

Escape THE ZOO, you animal
Play in browser
A map-drawing game of post-capitalist futures
Or how I learned to stop worrying about global catastrophe and engage with my local community
Play in browser
Travel back through a young woman's memories of Middle School, High School, and College to find out who she has become.
Visual Novel
Connect, Paint & Create
Take to the singular street of NYC by bike. Race to the end to prove that human-scale transport is viable.
The Individual and the Community
This is a prototype kart racer for UE4 the team made for the first time in a few days.
La tua arte è fare il ninja: provalo ora!
Infiltrate the Human government. Become supreme.
Visual Novel
Play in browser
Bring order to the galaxy
Play in browser
In this local 1v1 game you will have to play volleyball at the SAAM. Hope you enjoy :)