Lessons Learned From a GameJam

Github logo in a megaman outfit

With the GitHub GameJam 2012 over, I wanted to post about my first experience with a game jam and what I learned while doing one.

When the GitHub GameJam started, I was in school completing a semester of college. I hadn’t participated in a game jam before, so this would be my first one. I was pretty excited to try my hand at making a game under a time limit, and I thought I would have the time to commit to working on it while in school.

As it turns out, school didn’t give me the time I needed to work on a game, especially with finals approaching. I worked on it whenever I had the chance to, but it was just too much work and not enough time. Unfortunately, school was a higher priority than game making.

Even though I didn’t finish my game, I was still able to learn a lot from my first ever game jam. Here is what I learned:

  • It’s a lot of work! Making a game, even a one I thought was pretty simple, requires a lot of time and effort. Make sure you can continually commit time (preferably every day) to work on it.
  • It’s very easy to get too detailed oriented. I tried to implement a lighting like weapon in my game and I found that I was spending a lot of time trying to perfect how the lightning looked when it was generated. Instead, I should have been working on the gameplay and the game and worrying about the minor details at the end when everything else was done.
  • It’s exciting and fun. It was a lot of fun to work on a game knowing I only had one month to finish it. Having a time limit made the experience that much more exciting every time I worked on the game.

I highly recommend participating in a game jam just for the experience. Even if you don’t finish a game, it’s a great learning experience and a unique one. I can’t wait to finish school so that I’ll have the free time necessary to work on a game more consistently.

I’ve been told that there will be another game jam soon, so hopefully I’ll try to participate in another. Have any of you had any experience in participating in game jam? If so, please post about it in the comments so I can learn from you.