The Jam

As well as some great teaching resources to get your kids ready for the event, GGJ NEXT is also hosting game jams for young people all around the world in July. Find out more information below, browse our frequently asked questions or 

What is a game jam?

The goal of a game jam is to come together and make a game (be it a videogame, board game, card game…) Jammers quickly come up with new ideas, and make quick sketches of how they might work to prototype and playtest. Often jammers have a theme or central idea to work with. The brief time span will encourage creative thinking and hopefully innovative experimental games.

What is GGJ NEXT®?

GGJ NEXT provides both educational opportunities to learn about game development and an annual jam for young people age 12-17.

The GGJ NEXT jam aims to bring together talented young people within their school and community. It is a unique opportunity for students to learn new STEAM skills, and improve their creative thinking and exploration in a safe space.

The GGJ NEXT jam will happen all over the globe based around a central theme. Events will be between 1 and 5 days long, and we need your support to make that happen!

When is the GGJ NEXT jam?

The GGJ NEXT Jam is usually held in the month of July. Each location can pick up to 5 days to hold their jam. We have tips and advice below to help you figure out what event format will work best for you.  

The exact timing and format for the 2020 GGJ NEXT is still to be determined.

Guidelines for running a GGJ NEXT Jam Event / FAQ

So you want to run a GGJ Next Jam in your school or community? Here are some guidelines, and some answers to common questions. If you have any more questions just let us know, and we will get back to you.

Where can I run a GGJ NEXT jam event?

GGJ NEXT jam events can be run at a school or institution that currently runs events for children. As an organiser you must seek permission from the leader of that organisation to run your event.

Who can attend a GGJ NEXT jam event?

Anyone ages 12-17 can participate in a GGJ NEXT jam event. As a site organiser we expect you to be committed to attracting a wide diversity of jammers to your event, and ask you to reach out to youth of different gender, race and economic backgrounds to make sure as many people as possible get to experience the creativity of making games.

What safeguarding needs to be in place?

The location where your event is running must have a safeguarding policy in place, and you will commit to follow that policy. At least one member of staff from the school or organisation must be present at the event at all times. Any external volunteers working at the event (including the site organiser if they are not staff at the organisation) must have a background/criminal record check or equivalent for your country. Before your GGJ NEXT jam site is approved you (as the site organiser) will sign a contract to commit to the above, along with the leader of the school/organisation.

If you collect photos and videos make sure you get the jammer and parents permission to share these images publicly, and allow anyone to opt out who does not wish to do this. We have a permission slip template you can use here (to follow). Also make sure no personal information (such as full names) of the jammers is shared.

What equipment do I need?

Young people may not have access to technology, so if you plan to do a digital jam, then there would be an expectation to supply technology and equipment to the jammers. If you have a limited amount of equipment then consider pair or team working. If you don’t have access to any technology then you can still take part - consider an analog jam instead with board or card games.

How long/what format should my jam be?

We want the GGJ NEXT jam to be flexible for you and your jammers needs. Unlike a typical hackathon / game jam which might last a solid 48 hours - we have come up with some event formats which will work better for youth jammers.

Game Jam Prep workshop - A 1-2 hour workshop as a taster for games. We recommend using this format as a taster session to generate interest, or in combination with some of the other formats below. You could use material from our curriculum such as the “mini game jam” activity to design this workshop.

One-day Jam event - A 4-8 hour event (consider providing meals). Create a small analog or digital prototype with your jammers, allowing time for brainstorming ideas and time for game making with some playtesting at the end. See guidance on this from the curriculum here: ‘Using pre-made teams (JM3)’, ‘quick iteration (GD2)’, ‘playtesting (GD3)’.

Two-day (weekend) Jam event - This format is most similar to the adult game jam format, consisting of two 6-10 hour days. This format is long enough to allow for a little more structure in the jamming.  Suggested structure:

Saturday morning: Brainstorming and Icebreakers (JM1, JM2). Ideas pitching (JM2, JM3).

Saturday afternoon: Planning and paper prototyping. Make sure jammers go home with a clear idea of what they want to accomplish on day 2, with gentle reminders to keep the scope small.

Sunday Morning: game creation / team working

Sunday afternoon: presentations to the class

Weeklong Jam event - Some groups may want to extend this over a week, either as an after-school program or a week-long summer camp. This can be spread over a set of 5 days that go anywhere from 2-8 hours on each day. Suggested structure:  

  • Day 1: Icebreakers (JM2), ideation, team formation, and preliminary design work in teams (GD1, GD4)
  • Day 2: Finalize game ideas (GD4-GD8, AG0), assign roles (GD0, VA0, AU0, PD0) and begin work
  • Day 3: Continue work on respective tasks (AG, PG, CP and for specialized roles VA and AU)
  • Day 4: Continue work on respective tasks, and encourage playtesting between groups (GD3)
  • Day 5: Finish game to a presentable prototype.

What output is GGJ NEXT looking for from the jam?

We would love you to document your jammers work. As you are working with young people, if you collect photos and videos make sure you get parents permission to share these images publicly, and allow anyone to opt out who does not wish to do this. Also make sure no personal information (such as full names) of the jammers is shared.

We would love you to encourage your jammers to make short ‘Let’s Play’ videos of their games at the end of the jam, and to share these with us (Instructions on how to make one of these following soon). These videos will be shared on our site.

There will also be a pre and post jam survey for organizers and for attendees - to help us understand how to better our event and to make sure we cover our learning and research outcomes.

What happens after I submit my jam site application?

After you have filled out your jam application form, your jam site will need to be approved by our team before it is confirmed as an official GGJ NEXT Jam site.

This application will be reviewed by our team and you will hear back from us within 2 weeks. We will arrange a 30-60 minute call to talk through the set-up of your event, expectations and legal items we need to cover to make sure that the participants will be in a safe and successful jam. This call will be conducted in English, but if you need a translator, please let us know and we will do our best to provide one.

What programming language/tools should I use?

GGJ NEXT jam is a platform and tool agnostic jam, meaning we don’t mind what you use! We can make a few recommendations of tools which we know works well for kids, but generally you should use what you are most comfortable teaching.  Some ideas:

We also have loads of support and tool ideas in our curriculum. See more information on ‘Making Digital Game with Visual Tools (PG)’ and ‘Making Digital Games with Coding and Scripting (CP)’. This goes through some guided tutorials for a visual-based game coding tool (PG) and a script-based game coding tool (CP). For those of you unfamiliar with coding terminology, you can think of this as more basic game-making tools (PG) or more advanced game-making tools (CP).

More tips and resources for running your site

  • Need more general information about game jams? Check out our curriculum on ‘Introduction to game jams
  • Need more general info on game design to teach your students? Check out our curriculum on ‘Introduction to game design
  • If you are interested in hosting a board or card game jam for your students, Check out the ‘analog games’ section of our curriculum for ideas and guidance

Still not sure? Let us know any more questions that you have, and we will do our best to support you to run your own GGJ NEXT Jam in July.