GameJams are a kind of hackathon dedicated to develop games. According to Spieler et al. (2016), , “Game jams are a way to create games under fast-paced conditions and certain constraints (Eberhardt, 2016; Deen, et al., 2014).”
“A game jam is an accelerated opportunistic game creation event where a game is created in a relatively short timeframe exploring given design constraint(s) and end results are shared publically.”
According to Meriläinen (2019) , “as defined by Kultima (2015), a game jam is an accelerated, opportunistic game creation event in which participants create a game in a relatively short timeframe exploring given design constraints, with the end results shared publicly. Typically, the entire game creation process from ideation to publication takes place during the event, with 48 hours being a common event duration. While game jams often focus on digital games, other types of games such as board games (e.g. Pollock, Murray & Yeager, 2017) can also be created. Game jamming has gained popularity in recent years, and the 2018 instalment of the world’s largest on-site game jam event, Global Game Jam (GGJ), had 42800 participants in 108 countries (GGJ, 2018).”
Game jams enjoy increasing popularity in school and university settings. Their aim is different, i.e. focuses on learning something, e.g. programming, design, art, collaboration, etc. and typically use educational programming environments such as visual block languages like scratch or snap!. “Academic game jams are a kind of project work that fosters collaboration and at the same time results in understanding learning content from different subjects (Chandrasekaran, et al., 2012).” <ref="spieler2018">
Design of game jams
There exist various design guidelines for game jams,
- A general theme (announced ahead of the event).
- A surprise theme (announced at the start of the event).
- Diversifiers to increase engagement and spark creativity in the development process.
- Topic related support material (graphics, artefacts,and tutorials).
- Promotion material for schools.
- A submission website and final questionnaire.
- Working in small groups (two to three pupils).
- Guidelines for the overall architecture (A Title Screen, an Instructions Screen, one or more levels and a Game End Screen.
- Awareness of license issues and attribution
According to Meriläinen , “Game jams are accelerated game creation events usually taking place over the course of a short time period. A variety of learning outcomes from game jamming has been discussed in previous research, with learning being a common motivation for attending game jams. Despite this, there has been little research into the psychological mechanisms driving learning and participation. In this article, the learning experiences of four first-time participants in the Global Game Jam are examined through self-determination theory. Results suggest that a wide spectrum of learning is experienced during a game jam, and game jams offer at least a temporary heightened sense of creativity and competence. Assessment remains an issue, however, and learning benefits may be contingent on the jam setting. All three basic psychological needs listed in self-determination theory are potentially fulfilled by game jam attendance, suggesting the relevance of self-determination theory in further jam research.”
Boulton et al. (2018) , in a research project using Pocket Code organising a game jam with an international set of 100 submissions, write that “The notion of game jams has provideda paradigm for creating both formal and informal learning experiences such as directed learning experience, problem-solving, hands-on projects, working collaboratively, and creative invention, within a learner-centred learning environment where children are creators of their own knowledge and learning material. These learning experiences have taken place in school, at home and in transit.”.
Also, “Our data evidences that learners can be more motivated through game jams and that learners who are less likely to create games are nevertheless more engaged in a game jam setting. Furthermore learner’s various talents are nurtured by building and enriching personal and collaborative knowledge, and becoming part of a wider community with different social and cultural perspectives.”
Kultima, in 2015,  identified 20 quality academic papers.
cited with footnotes
- Spieler, B., Petri, A., Schindler, C., Slany, W., Betran, M., Boulton, H., ... & Smith, J. (2018). Pocket Code: a mobile app for game jams to facilitate classroom learning through game creation. arXiv preprint arXiv:1805.04461. https://arxiv.org/abs/1805.04461
- Kultima, A. (2015, June). Defining Game Jam. 10th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games (FDG 2015), June 22-25, 201, https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kultima_Annakaisa/publication/281748266_Defining_Game_Jam/links/55f729d908ae07629dc114bd.pdf
- Meriläinen, M. (2019). First-Timer Learning Experiences in Global Game Jam. International Journal of Game-Based Learning (IJGBL), 9(1), 30-41.
- Boulton, H., Spieler, B., Petri, A., Schindler, C., Slany, W., & Beltran, M. (2018). The role of game jams in developing informal learning of computational thinking: a cross-european case study. arXiv preprint arXiv:1805.04458. https://arxiv.org/pdf/1805.04458.pdf
Buttfield-Addison, P., Manning, J. and Nugent, T. 2015. A better recipe for game jams: using the Mechanics Dynamics Aesthetics framework for planning.Proceeding GJH&GC '16 Proceedings of the International Conference on Game Jams, Hackathons, and Game Creation Events, p. 30-33
Chandrasekaran, S., Stojcevski, A., Littlefair, G., & Joordens, M. (2012). Learning through projects in engineering education. In SEFI 2012: Engineering Education 2020: Meet The Future: Proceedings of the 40th SEFI Annual Conference 2012. European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI).
Chatham, A., Mueller, F., Bernhaupt, R., Khot, P., Pijnappel. S., Toprak, C., Deen, M. and Schouten, B. 2013. Game jam. In CHI '13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, p. 3175-3178.
Deen, M., Cercos, R., Chatham, A., Naseem, A., Fowier, A., Bernhaupt, R. Schouten, B and Mueller, F. 2014. Game jam [4research]. In CHI '14 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, p. 25-28
Eberhardt, R. 2016. No One Way to Jam: Game Jams for Creativity, Learning, Entertainment, and Research. Proceedings of the International Conference on Game Jams, Hackathons, and Game Creation Events, p. 34-37.
Goddard, W., Byrne, R., and Mueller, F. 2014. Playful Game Jams: Guidelines for Designed Outcomes.In Proceedings of the 2014 Conference on Interactive Entertainment, p. 1-10.
Jaffa, V. 2016. In a Jam Between Community and Capitalism: A Critical Look at Game Jams. Available at: https://modelviewculture.com/news/in-a-jam-between-community-and-capitalism-a-critical-look-at-game-jams.
Kafai, Y., & Vasudevan, V. (2015). Hi-Lo tech games: crafting, coding and collaboration of augmented board games by high school youth. In Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children(pp. 130-139). ACM.Yasmin Kafai, Kean A. Searle, and Deo A. Fields. 2014
Kultima, A. (2015, June). Defining Game Jam. In FDG. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kultima_Annakaisa/publication/281748266_Defining_Game_Jam/links/55f729d908ae07629dc114bd.pdf
Petri, A., Schindler, C., Slany, W., and Spieler, B. 2015. Pocket Code Game Jams: a Constructionist Approach at Schools.In Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services Adjunct, p. 1207-1211.
Preston, J., Chastine, J., O’Donnell, C., Savannah, D. and MacIntyre, B. 2012. Game Jams: Community, Motivations, and Learning among Jammers. International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 2(3), p. 51-70.
Smith, P. and Bowers, C. 2016. Improving Social Skills through Game Jam Participation. Proceeding GJH&GC '16 Proceedings of the International Conference on Game Jams, Hackathons, and Game Creation Events. p. 8-14
Spieler, B., Petri, A., Schindler, C., Slany, W., Betran, M., Boulton, H., ... & Smith, J. (2018). Pocket Code: a mobile app for game jams to facilitate classroom learning through game creation. arXiv preprint arXiv:1805.04461. https://arxiv.org/abs/1805.04461
Initial bibliography from Spieler, B.and Petri, A. and Schindler, C. and Slany, W. and Beltràn, M.E. and Bouldon, H., 2016.