As a mentor I absolutely love game jams and they are truly so essential to someone wanting to learn a skill like coding. But we’ll get to that more later. For now, you’re probably asking ‘what on earth is a game jam?’ Well don’t worry! I am going to tell you.
What is a Game Jam?
A game jam is an open coding challenge where all our fabulous clubbers, not matter what their level or club type, can create a brand-new game all their own based on a given theme. They are essentially given a blank page and they have to build absolutely everything themselves from the design of characters to the actual gameplay.
These are coded in the language indicated by their current difficulty level and are shared with everyone at the end of the challenge. This includes the mentors who love taking part to be able to stretch our creativity and coding muscles. Then our users can look at other people’s projects and even give them XP if they like them.
Why are they important?
Game jams are important for so many reasons. Game jams allow our users to really get creative by creating characters and backgrounds and a story to go with their games. These can be completely their own design or they can use the gallery, but users really enjoy making these creative decisions.
They also allow us mentors to really see a child’s progress. What can happen is that a child can write the code needed without fully understanding what it does. But when they have a blank page, they have to understand every piece of code they write or they’ll need to ask for help. This in turn gives the mentors opportunities to suggest skills and code that we think the clubber needs to work on in order to progress, not just within the game jam, but their difficulty level in general.
They are also important as they foster the feeling of community. By having a page devoted to users looking at others projects and seeing users interact with their own creates a sense of purpose and achievement. They have something to aim for when creating their games and they can gain more ideas through others creativity. They also get to see the mentor’s personalities come out a lot by seeing the kinds of games we like to create.
Finally, it simulates a real-life project. At the end of my first semester at university, out final project for that class was essentially a game jam. We were marked on the usual does it work, layout etc. But there was also a mark for how much you pushed yourself. If any of the clubbers decide to take coding at higher education level, they are essentially building a gaming portfolio!
Game jams have so many important aspects so we really encourage our members to take part whenever we run one. One of the reasons why members like to take part is so that they can show their work to others. Want to encourage you child? Ask them about their game jam! They love showing everyone and would be really excited to show their work to you guys as well.