March 18-2020
All you need to know about online game jams happening now!

The coronavirus fear is knocking all around and self-quarantine, in most cases, is the only option left for people to stay protected. Games Now! spearheaded by Aalto University professor Dr. Annakaisa Kultima, will be launching an Online Game Jam starting from 23 March to 30 March 2020 and they might transform their annual physical game jam event scheduled for May into an online one as well.

Why online game jams?

Today,due to Coronavirus outbreak all social meetings/ events are been cancelled including game jams as mostly everyone is sheltered behind four walls to stay protected from infection. Therefore organisers from around the world are trying to organise events/ launches/ exhibitions online to continue the businesses.

Game jams are common across the globe, where a bunch of developers get together and create a game within a designated time, often around a single theme. There has always been a window for online game jams as developers, artists from all around the world can participate, collaborate and create games but the current scene will spike the rate of online game jams. In conversation with AnimationXpress  Aalto University, Finland game designing student Abhishek Jaiswal and associated with Games Now! shared “We usually have a fair mix of online and physical events. Most of our events have an online component to it. For example, the lectures that we organize every month where professionals from the gaming industry-speak, are also live-streamed. We also have a Twitch talk show that we organize from time to time.

He further confirms that the game jam that they are organising next week was anyway supposed to be an online event and the “GamesNow!” Game Jam that they organise annually is a physical game jam in May.

Games Now! organises open lecture series at the Aalto University in Finland and others where they run events, exhibitions and various get-togethers and they organise this online game jam event every year. Apart from that they also organise annual physical Game Jam event in May but due to coronavirus outbreak, they are planning to shift it into an online format. He shared, “due to the current situation we might have to shift it to an online event. We are taking every precaution necessary and so we have cancelled the upcoming lectures as well to avoid risk. It is true that all events and physical meetings have been cancelled and that is where online game jams truly shine.”

The world is almost at the lockdown phase however the wish of game creators to create games cannot be terminated. “While you are in quarantine/self-quarantine, you can still work on the games from home while collaborating with others over our Discord channel or other social media platforms. You can make a game from home. Safe and fun. That is how online game jam works usually, and current affairs are more than suitable for such online community events,” said Jaiswal.

How GN’s Online Game Jam is happening?

The online game jam will begin and end with a talk show which will include industry veteran developers and will be streamed on Twitch. Abhishek Jaiswal who is associated with Games Now! announced in an official post that “Our first developer guest is Samuli Jääskeläinen from Varjo!”

Highlighted an official GN post that Samuli has been an active game jammer since 2012. He has extensive understanding of the game jam scene and been traveling to many countries participating in various jams. GN is looking forward to chat with him about game jams in general as well as the design constraint, and games he has picked!

“The Games Now! Online Jam is a part of an ongoing research project at Aalto University in Finland, tackling the issue of how online game jam with a Twitch show can be utilised in university teaching. For the purposes of the study, all jammers participating in the jam are asked to fill in a short survey after submitting their game. Participating in the survey is voluntary and anonymous. Submitted games will also be analyzed for the study. The collected data is not used in any commercial purposes, will be stored in an appropriate manner and will only be handled by the Games Now! Research team,” said the post.

Other Online Game Jams

They are many more online game jams that are happening right now. Here are few:

  • “Quarantine Jam”,is one of the events was ideated by Andrea Di Bartolo, a 3D artist, and developer from CyberLab Studios. Says he, “I was at home, here in Italy the government declared a total lockdown for the country, so I started thinking about what can we do safely from home to keep people busy and entertained. Then I had an idea – a game jam!”.
  • Bratislava Game Jam Session: Stay Home Edition is a week-long remote-only game jam, where people gather online, share knowledge and build things. The topic of the session is games for kids during the quarantine. Where jammers can stay home safely with a computer or other favourite tools, may dream and design their own little game, and show it to other fellow game designers in the virtual world. The official post says, “Let’s help ourselves, parents and poor bored kids which must already be overwhelmed with traditional video games. Bring some fairytales into this misery!”
  • TriJams in association with Rocketnight Studios, is a three hours only game jam where the goal of the creator is to create playable and fun prototype games, so far they have done 6o jams. Trijams take place every weekend, their theme is chosen by the community by a strawpoll and RocknightStudios livestream playtesting the games on Wednesday following the jam.

  • NovaKnight531 who has been part of quarantine jam sought out to make a new jam Stay Safe Jam with the same concept. This event is about making a game, in the time span of three days, to stay safe, happy and productive during this weekend. The official post says “the peculiar philosophy of this jam is we strongly encourage team members to collaborate remotely, minimizing physical encounters.”
  • Stay At Home Game Jam is another game jam that promotes staying at home safely and from anywhere with any level of expertise, one can create games. The theme will be unveiling some hours before the start of the jam however it is not fixed.