A Newbie’s Take on Game Jam

At the end of January 2020, I wasn’t in the best mood. For a number of reasons mostly tied to work, I felt useless and I was quite closed off. But a friend of mine was kind enough to invite me to their Global Game Jam team! Courageously, I accepted and travelled to the Netherlands for a special weekend! Quick thanks to our host Reaktor who graciously opened their office and provided us with everything we needed and some more.

I say courage because I thought I didn’t have any useful skills. I can’t code, I can’t do game graphics, I don’t have an eye for graphic design and despite having a “gut feeling” of game design; first, never had a title of it and second, I tend to (over)complicate things but jams require concise decisions. See where I’m going with this? I felt I would be useless there (…just like I felt at work at the time, to drop in a bit of personal story). In fact, when I introduced myself in the HQ, I called myself the “Secret Weapon” to hide my embarrassment because I couldn’t call myself a graphic designer, coder etc. Regarding my prior skillset, I was technically right, but I came to learn that I was also so very wrong.

Final sprite sheet

I ended up writing the content, preparing most of the graphics, taking care of some organizational stuff (which can actually matter since time is scarce — every bit helps) and preparing a good amount of the trailer. I even provided my voice for our neighbour team’s game!

Were the graphics good? Hell no! Was I proud? Hell yes! I even created the story to be about someone who felt caught in this endless loop at work (just like me at the time). In fact, the game itself is supposed to be a meta-representation of that: Every time you play is another day in the guy’s life. You, as a player, playing more, attempts at higher scores and trying to get some meaningful result of the game is also the protagonist, trying to get the same out of work. Kinda depressing and a bit convoluted but I was also on the verge of burning out.

I was genuinely sad when the weekend ended. Meeting new people, creating something, trying myself at new things… It was incredibly refreshing! My experience with this lovely band of people not only left me with awesome memories but also showed me that I was far from useless and kind of proved to be a secret weapon and ended up starting a chain of positive changes in my life.

Proof. Well, this was because I brought bagels on Sunday but I’ll take it.

Now obviously I don’t claim that a game jam will change everyone’s life in the same way… but you won’t know until you try it, right? Believe me, you’ll find something to do. The time is so scarce that every bit helps. And if you already can code, do art etc then don’t ever worry about your level, you will do great!

Finally, I’d like to provide some resources. Obviously, there are many compilations on the internet such as this one on GGJ site but this tiny one’s mine. Before you go on, please make sure to read the rules [For Ludum Dare 48]. Some of the following tools might not be directly used for your game, but they may still be useful for prototyping etc.

Testing tiles on discord

If you are still reading and still trying to decide, let me help you. DO IT. If you are dreading it, STOP. Do the thing. The stakes are low, time is yours to enjoy. Go ahead, find people (unless you want to solo) and enjoy the jam! You won’t regret it.



Gamer, gaming industry wanderer, development and design enthusiast. Current WIP: TBD

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Ekrem Atamer

Gamer, gaming industry wanderer, development and design enthusiast. Current WIP: TBD