Among the six papers featured in the fourth issue of the second volume of the International Journal of game-Based Learning, the fourth paper, authored by Preston, Chastine, O’Donnell, Tseng and MacIntyre describes the organization of game jams, and their benefits at both educational and motivational levels.
This unique piece of research explores how game jams are perceived. Preston, Chastine, O’Donnell, Tseng and Macintyre describe the history of game jams, a relatively recent phenomenon, whereby participants can work in teams and create multiple games, using successive prototypes developed cyclically over 48 hours. These environments make it possible for competitors to “learn by doing” and refine their knowledge of development tools in a safe environment. Preston, Chastine, O’Donnell, Tseng and Macintyre explain that, because players are naturally creative and inclined to expand their game worlds, they are naturally attracted to game jams. This interest in game jams can also be explained by the inherent features found in game jams, such as stimulation, challenge, negativism (i.e., possibility to deviate from the organized elements of the jam), exploration, cognitive synergy or danger. According to Preston, Chastine, O’Donnell, Tseng and MacIntyre, these experiences broaden participants’ skills and network, providing useful opportunities for their future career. The authors explain that, in addition to game development skills, jams also offer many educational opportunities such as creative thinking, or computational thinking.
Preston, Chastine, O’Donnell, Tseng and MacIntyre then present the results of a survey on motivations to enter a game jam, and the perceived benefits on the part of the attendees. The results indicate that game jams are highly collaborative, that new jammers have a passion for making games; they are interested in advancing their skills, connecting with other peers in their field, and in gaining a better understanding of the game development process. The results also showed that non-jammers often don’t know about game jams, may lack time, are too far away from the game jams, or think they lack the necessary skills to enter this type of events.
Game jams look like they have a lot to offer to our new generation of students, and this surely is a fantastic environment to develop the skills and create the contacts they will need in their career.
Some interesting links on Game-Jams:
- Georgia SPSU GGJ 2011: http://cse.spsu.edu/jpreston/gamejam/
- Global game Jam main page: http://globalgamejam.org/
- Global game Jam 2011: http://globalgamejam.org/games/2011/