Every person might have a different idea about what game jams are about but to me they are about a group of people jamming together and have fun with the experience of making something that feels interesting in the course of 48 hours. Some people might want to focus on making something which they can finish or focus on making something which is polished and small. I think it’s all about not caring and just TRYING to make something interesting and finish it and enjoy the journey. There is no customer, no schedule, no rush or anything else, you are doing it for the sake of making it and jamming together and that’s great!
This year we’ve been a team of 5. Hamid, Elham, Amin and I knew each other and Najmeh which Elham knew joined us as the artist. We’ve worked with each other before, have been in the same project, team and circle of friends. Amin, Hamid and I did it the previous year together as well but it wast the first GGJ for others. I bragged about game jams being fun from months before and we were set to do it. 4 of us were programmers and potentially designers but we did not have an artist so Elham tried to find someone and found Najmeh. Amin had a university exam the day after GGJ but chosed to come and try to study there while doing it. We just exchanged a few emails and decided to do it and this was the resulting game. I’ll not describe the full story of our jam and instead will focus on the relation between game jams and good teams. We had to remain up all night in the last night and I’ll describe it in that context.
When we arrived at homes, had dinner and fired up Viber and started talking, coding and committing our changes. It was really nice for me since I did not have any full night up coding since 2 years ago. Others had it due to university and other reasons. Hamid doesn’t do these generally but worked all night with others. Amin decided to perfect the game and forget about his exam. I decided to remain awake despite the fact that I woke up 6AM prev day and could not sleep anymore and Elham decided to do it as well despite the fact that she could not have a good sleep the previous night as well and we had to work the day after it on a project as well. Different things got completed and even we added additional stuff like camera shakes to the game. We could not create our final level as we wanted and replaced it with a simplistic finishing scene and we could not make anything perfect but overall we did it well I think. It has the feelings that we want although it doesn’t play fun but we know how much potential it can have and we know the overall look and feel of it.
When you remain up all night it’s only either an act of love, habit or force but this time it was only love of doing it and doing it together and this shared experience in a disconnected physical world which was too connected in minds and hearts and in a virtual manner by internet was a really interesting experience. Sometimes dialogs had interesting bits in them or people wasn’t patient enough but this is all natural when you are in a hurry and sleepless and a little under pressure. We did not sleep at all. Magic was being done and could be seen. Key presses were being turned to spirit inside visual studio’s beautiful dark theme and unity was showing us the souls that we are making are ok in their physical, non-physical bodies. Our world had peculiarities but we were trying to perfect it. Letters were moving from minds to fingers and from keyboards to the instruction sets which were making a soul alive. It was either about sleeping patterns of a dragon which a good music made him forget about his path in life or words of a doctor who thought hypocrisy is a good way of life. It was the creation of us and this creation and us have been important as much as each other at the same time.
If anything, game jams can show you how good of a team you are/can be. How much people care about things when there is no force and how much motivation and love you can get from each other. Money and many other serious matters and facts of life and matter of personal gains can change people’s behavior but steel I think if you are a good jammer in a game jam then potentially you are a good team mate outside of a jam as well. A jam is the process of making a game without any gains and you should try to perfect it for sake of it in a very limited time frame and those who can do this can do many other things as well.
Many teams don’t finish their game due to members becoming hopeless or due to fights. Sometimes it’s about technical reasons but most of the times it’s about the team not being able to remain a team or a group not being able to form a team at all. In my first jam I remember we changed the game in last 5 hours just in order to be able to finish it and we made it because we were a team. This jam we remained up all night because there was something in our love for games and in between us which enabled us all to do this, to make the sacrifice and to do it without any external motivations. Game jams are a good test for showing how much the much spoken for letter word is turned into action, otherwise love is just a four letter word and for doing anything meaningful in life you’ll need love and you’ll need it a lot. You should not try to over interpret or judge people’s behavior in a jam or take any decisions based on a jam alone but jams are a good indicator of the fact that you can/want to work with a person or not. I remember Aras the graphics guy in Unity Technologies telling a story in a post about him joining unity and he said they jammed for 5 days or something to decide if they want to do it together or not.
Game jams are different from those prototyping sessions which you do in regular hours to see if the game idea is fun or not. It can serve that purpose but to me it’s more about forcing yourself to a theme and setting a goal and trying to reach it while having fun in the journey. It’s about acting in a all for one, one for all manner. It’s about feeling the person which sit next to you and is fighting with his/her keyboard and the relation between one’s mind to the world that it created to perfect it. It’s about listening. It’s about understanding that other people’s ideas worth pursuing. It’s about caring about the common goal. It’s about not thinking of financial gains of what you do 25 times a second. It’s about remaining true, honest and trusted to each other even while you are having a hard time. It’s about the You which is potentially more than the sum of all members. It’s about feeling great about it! It’s about a good memory and it’s important because memory remains. I think this jam will remain in memories of all of us as something which was really good and we are happy about it.