Game Jam: Fully functional games in 48 hours

Imagine a room filled with creative, talented people. Now imagine they face a 48-hour deadline and an impossible goal.

It sounds intense but all these people are here by choice and it happens more often than you might think. It’s called a game jam and the goal is to make a fully formed game over the course of a single weekend. Artists, programmers, designers and technicians reach across discipline lines to compel their collective vision into reality.

I go to a game jam with a programer friend and we are grouped with 5 other participants. We hit the ground running; within the first hour we have a group trajectory and our individual marching orders. We decide to make a four-player co-op game in which the four players must work together to escape a burning spaceship. We know it’s ambitious but we all agree, “go big or go home.”

The remainder of the time is filled with compromises, disappointments, happy surprises, but above all else camaraderie. I am amazed by the flexibility of my teammates and the overwhelming lack of ego. Every time we come up against something, consensus is reached quickly and nothing is out of bounds.

My team is light on programers and we wind up with a lot of assets and not enough time to implement them. We do, however, finish with a fully playable game, nothing too fancy but a game nonetheless.

The bell tolls and everyone looks up from their computers. The games are revealed and everyone at the jam is disarmed by what has been accomplished. It’s a collection of somewhat fragile, funny, precious little experiments. Grins form on faces as they survey the landscape. Everyone has done it, they have all made/learned from/participated in something tangible.

You can find a collection of these games on the Purple Monkey site.

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