Part 2: Game Jam
Traditional Game Jams Game jams are events where students and professionals from game-related fields get together as a team to rapidly prototype and develop a game in a short time. Usually taking place in a 48-hour competition format and with a specific problem or theme to be addressed, a game jam provides participants an open, entertaining, and creative space to foster innovative ideas (Guevara-Villalobos, 2011, Preston et al., 2012). The biggest and most well-known jam is the Global Game Jam. This jam happens every year, engaging simultaneous participants from six continents and more than 100 countries. In the Global Game Jam, all participants receive a theme and then create a game around that theme. Jam events give participants an immediate and collaborative environment and a safe space for risk-taking and failure. These features provide participants experiences such as professional development and network building, learning new tools, and opportunities to experience new approaches, techniques, or roles. The immersive approach of a jam can inform research, bringing developers and content experts in Extension together to work on developing educational media in a short time. Rapid prototyping in a game jam can help teams advance quickly through a design process, moving them into consensus about desired outcomes and implementation. In a game jam with a short time frame, the game design and production process are expedited with the entire team, and the playable prototype represents the final product for the event. This version of the game is still not the final design, but it is closer to a “beta” version of the game, a fully functional game that may still need improvements in art, mechanics, sound, etc. Game jams are not unique in rapid prototyping approaches: immediate prototype jams have been successfully used in other design methodologies, such as Agile (McGuire, 2006). Using Agile as a management structure for game design, teams work towards a larger game by working on smaller sprints, which may include rapid development cycles and development of quick prototypes. These methodologies focus on a more adaptive and people-centric process (avoiding too much top-down management), allowing smaller teams to solve game design problems in a more frequent iteration process (Chamberlin, Trespalacios, Gallagher, 2014; Fullerton, 2008). Often, game jams are viewed as a singular event, rather than a small part of a larger process. Much of the challenge of a game jam is in completing all of the processes from ideation through brainstorming and on to prototyping into a short period of time, which should always yield a playable game, rather than one part of a larger game.
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