Anyone who’s ever looked at a skyline and mentally placed Tetris shapes onto buildings, knows just how powerful games can be at making us feel things. And making people feel things – whether that’s hope, righteous anger, or simply the gravity of the situation – is one of the most essential goals we have in combating the climate crisis together.
If you care about both games and our planet, game jams are just about the most impactful thing you can do to make a change, save for shoving a fossil fuel executive head-first into an oil spill. Here’s our complete guide on finding a team of like-minded people, and channelling your energy into a game that gets people talking, moving, and acting!
First off: what is a game jam?
A game jam is an event where participants set out to create a video game from scratch, either in teams or as a solo project. Some are professionally organised, with a set theme and a jury; others are informal passion projects by a group of friends. They typically last about a weekend, though some have been known to last for several weeks!
What they all have in common, though, is that they feature game enthusiasts coming together to learn, collaborate and create!
I’ve never worked on a game before – can I still contribute?
Absolutely! For many people, game jams are a first step into creating games. Whether you’re interested in learning development, art, narrative design, UX or music: they’re a wonderful opportunity to get some hands-on experience, and put theory into practice.
If none of those roles speak to you, your knowledge of the climate crisis or experiences playing other games could be invaluable, too!
Do I need to have an existing game idea to join?
That’s up to you! Some people have a pre-existing idea that they’ve been itching to bring into existence; others like to brainstorm once the jam begins.
How do I find a team to join?
If running solo isn’t for you, there’s many ways you can collaborate. Most events let you join with a pre-existing group of friends, but many also feature a match-making process that allows you to find new friends to collaborate with.
Of course, your odds of finding team members that are kind, collaborative and altogether breathtaking individuals are particularly high in Climate Replay’s own #matchmaking Discord channel. Or that’s the tittle-tattle on the streets, anyway.
Which game jam should I participate in?
There’s many great ones, which itch.io kindly keeps track of in this nifty overview.
Is there anything I can do to prepare ahead of time?
Great question! If you’re interested in learning a new role from scratch, there are great resources online to teach yourself the basics in advance. That way, you can hit the ground running, and put your new-found skills into practice!
Some of our personal favourites include:
Climate Games: The Developer’s Field Guide: a half-hour talk on creating climate games from the acclaimed Game Developer’s Conference
A basic introduction to Unity, one of the most popular game engines, by our very own Anna!
A basic introduction to 3D modeling in Blender, featuring the famous donut tutorial – a rite of passage for aspiring 3D artists.
A basic introduction to Figma, a tutorial to one of the most popular prototyping softwares, for all aspiring UX designers
Making your first 2D game in Godot: a step-by-step tutorial to learning Godot, a more recent, open-source game engine
How This Woman Creates God of War’s Sound Effects: an intriguing look behind the scenes with sound effect artist Joanna Fan
“Make It Pop”: a short explanation on creating amazing special effects, by the legendary creator of Super Smash Bros., Masahiro Sakurai
For any other questions or recommendations, you’ll always find a welcome home in our Climate Replay #game-development and #jam-chat channels. Now go find your team, and get to work!