Extra Credits Game Jams
We constantly get emails from our viewers about how they’re engaging with the ideas presented in Extra Credits videos as inspiration for their own amazing creative projects—particularly in game development! To encourage these sparks of creativity, we decided to start hosting semi-regular virtual game jams—an activity to create a complete game from start to finish within a pre-determined, limited time period.
Our game jams are typically 3-5 days long. Our philosophical emphasis is on enjoying the act of creation and learning new skills, so there is no formal ranking or judging system by which to objectively compare game entries, and we encourage jammers to avoid “crunching” or working nonstop for long periods of time so that it is a more relaxed experience. That said, we have started running Twitch streams and “Games You Might Not Have Tried” YouTube episodes that show off some of our favorite and most unique games created from each jam.
Game jams are held about every 3-4 months, with jammers participating in a combination of local teams and distributed online teams (as well as working solo), mingling in a game jam community Discord. There are no age restrictions to participate, other than the legal age restrictions imposed by itch.io and Discord for creating a free user account. Because they are hosted entirely online, participants can join from anywhere around the world according to their own time zone.
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or partner of a future Extra Credits game jam, please send us an email.
Our itch.io profile page is: https://extra-credits.itch.io/
previous game jams:
December 2018 - Extra Credits Holiday 2018 Game Jam
217 entries, 820 registered jammers
August 2018 - The Very First Extra Credits Game Design Jam
326 entries, 1158 registered jammers
We also wrote up a game jam postmortem blog post for this event.
Game Jam FAQs
What is a game jam? A game jam is a creative exercise that lets you practice making a game from start to finish in a defined, limited amount of time. Adriel Wallick, the founder of Train Jam, has described game jams as “practicing the skill of finishing.” It’s easy to come up with countless game ideas, but actually picking one and making it a reality is a worthy challenge!
For beginner jammers, you’ll typically have the most fun doing a game jam if your primary goal is to learn something new, whether or not you finish and submit a game.
Can I make a video game if I'm not great at coding? Or know how to do art? etc. Absolutely! As far as game design lessons go: check out our playlist on how to make your first game which includes tips that are very relevant for game jams.
Extra Credits gets a lot of questions about which development program to get started with and the truth is, it doesn't really matter since different software is better suited to different types of genres. If you have a specific type of game in mind that you want to make (e.g. a 2D platformer) but don't know where to start, you should check out this interactive quiz which will help you find some good software to start learning.
Unless the jam instructions/theme specifies otherwise, remember that you are also free to make and submit a “real world” game (e.g. a board game, a tabletop game, a social game, etc.) where your primary materials are pen and paper rather than lines of code and pixels. This is a great way to practice game design directly without having to fuss too much about aesthetics and technical know-how. Just remember to make it a playable game still, not just a design document!
Should I have a team? You can, if you want to. For remotely distributed teams, we recommend 2-3 people to a team, because it can be hard to coordinate/distribute work evenly with a bigger team when multiple time zones might be involved. If you're working with friends locally, 4-5 people is a safe maximum. Remember, learning how to communicate and cooperate with others is its own extremely important game development skill! It’s not good manners to try to boss around other people, or be so isolated that your team doesn’t know what you’re working on.
Can I contribute to multiple games in a jam instead of just one game/team? Yes, you definitely can! Some people and some skills, like music & audio production, are extremely well suited for this type of collaboration.
How can I meet other jammers? We have a Discord community for the benefit of any jammers who want to find collaborators, share their progress, and ask for feedback. This Discord community is linked to on the game jam pages themselves.
Can I use assets I’ve already made before the jam starts? The point is to see what you can make and finish within the jam’s designated time period. Plus, you don’t even know what the theme is—allow the jam theme to inspire what you’re going to make, instead of retroactively squishing in a pre-created game or assets to make it “count” as the theme. That said, if these “assets” in question are something that is very theme-neutral, such as your own custom engine, scripts, etc. that is all fine to use. This also applies if you want to decide in advance that you will use a particular game dev tool of your choice (unless the jam rules say otherwise). This should all count as “preparation” work, not as a cheat code to give yourself extra content development time.
Can I use other people’s work in my game? Yes, but only if:
—The work (such as music, art, etc.) has a Creative Commons license attached to it, or is known to be in the public domain. If you’re not sure what these terms mean, spend a little time reading about copyright in advance, so you know how to identify and use this work. There are many, many websites and search tools for finding free (and 100% legal) art, music, and so forth.
—The author/creator has given you their permission, in writing, to use their work in your game. This is applicable for any situation where the work you want to use is not Creative Commons or public domain material. Go at it with the mindset that they will most likely say “no” or not respond in time, and have a backup plan ready. You’re a creative person too!
In any case, it’s always a good idea to source and credit where the content in your game came from if you didn’t create it entirely yourself!
Can my game have mature, dark, or otherwise not necessarily “family-friendly” themes in it? Yes, absolutely, but please do take care to warn and prepare players in advance. A content warning (sometimes abbreviated CW, or TW for trigger warning) is a brief written description, probably 1-2 sentences, that is visible on the game description webpage and/or in the game itself. Example: “content warning: rapidly flashing lights that can trigger photosensitivity; mention of racist slurs; explicit descriptions of domestic violence.”