Game jams are events where people turn up for a weekend and make games together and, depending on your jam, maybe take home a prize (if you create something special). So in this day and age, where indie developers are the new black, it’s no surprise that game jams are becoming ever more popular. But game jams aren’t just for aspiring indie developers; they’re for everyone who is, or wants to be, a part of the industry. So when the Nordic Game Jam opened its doors in Copenhagen for the 8th time a few weeks ago, I decided to join in. Here’s how it went.
The official Nordic Game Jam 2013 poster
At the time of writing, the Nordic Game Jam is the biggest single game jam in the world (a title which it competes with the Toronto Game Jam for each year), with the 2013 edition reaching 470 attendees. That’s a lot of creative power. And with a typical team consisting of four people, that’s also a lot of games created in one weekend. But while there was no shortage of ideas and manpower, it was clear from the games that made it to the finals that the experienced teams had an edge. Some of the most impressive games to come out of the jam include 3:15 AM, Stalagflight, and Buddy Builder, and the curious reader can run through all the games here.
To find out more about the what and why of game jams, I spoke to Jesper Taxbøl, one of the key volunteers running the Nordic Game Jam. Jesper has worked in the video game industry for five years, has been to the Nordic Game Jam every year since it began in 2006, and has volunteered for it since 2008. He believes there are several aspects that make game jams attractive propositions. Some of these everyone can appreciate. For example, jams are meant for experimentation and fun; it’s an environment that doesn’t frown upon failure. Jams are here to allow you to grab a beer with a few peers, take some crazy idea, and run with it. Even if it doesn’t become a good game, you’re (hopefully) all the wiser for it, and also had some fun along the way.