Sunday, March 13, 2022

Game Jams 101

I wasn't familiar with game jams until I got pretty deep not into OSR games and D.I.Y. Indie games, and it occurs to me that my readers might not be familiar with them, either, so I figured now might be a great time to mention them.

Game jams are very much a part of the culture of the online marketplace, which started as a place to share indie video games and software, but quickly developed a robust role-playing/ story- game culture.

This led to a lot of imports of Indy video game development conventions being absorbed by ITTRPG and storygame writers on Itch, such as the jam (my first exposure to the idea was during an AGS jam quite a few years ago.)

During a game jam, a call is put out for contributors using forums, Discord channels, or a Twitter hashtag. The group arranges to release a huge amount of content together at the same time which usually can be purchased as a bundle, and where everyone cross promotes everyone else's work.

Jams also provide great opportunities for coaching, accountability, and mentorship in a good group.

In some of these game jams, the contributors use the hashtag to find collaborators, allowing them to cover their weak points: "I'll write a piece for you if you do some art for me" agreements let everyone create a higher quality of content than they might have been able to do on their own.

Often, the jam focuses on a single game, subculture, or group. For example, I have mentioned to then Goon Jam from a couple of years ago where dozens of people got together to create variants on the Highland Paranormal Society's Tunnel Goons. In the summer before last a huge number of South American (mostly Brazilian) game writers got together and ran a event called the RPG Latan Jam. Whose original organizer, Tiogo Rolim tragically passed on from complications related to COVID-19 before it's completion.

The end result of most game jams are a huge number of small, pamphlet or zine sized products that help get a whole (sub-)community exposure.

They can be prone to cliquishness, turn into pyramid schemes, or promote groupthink at their worst, but the majority of game jams I have observed have just been an awesome way to build more of an audience and share the awesome.

Right now Taylor Lane is hosting an OSR Game Supplement Jam and I am giving serious thought to completing The Queen of Decay to contribute.

No comments:

Post a Comment