Game jams are not only a great environment for developing a game but also help you build an early audience for your game. They give you a community who want to share their own game and see the games of others.
For New Games
It’s much easier to piggyback off the work the jam has already done to build this community than to start building your own community around your game from scratch. Even though the jams are short, no one is preventing you from continuing work on your game after the jam is over. Just look at Gods Will Be Watching for a great example of how this can work.
For Games in Progress
That’s great if you’re just starting the game, but what if your game is already in progress? What can you do to draw attention to a game in development through a game jam? You have a couple of different options.
First, it’s always nice to take a short time away from your game to clear your head. A game jam might be just the trick. You’ll still be practicing your craft but in the context of a different project. This new perspective might shine light on your big project giving you new ideas you can apply to it. In the process, you can also draw attention to yourself and your studio which will bring more awareness to your game.
For a more direct approach, you can build a piece of your game or a mini-game based on your larger project for the jam. This can get tricky because most jams want everything to be created over the course of the jam. You can at least build a mechanic you’ll need for the final game and wrap a small game around that even if you can’t use the art you have for the full game.
This makes it easy to segue into a conversation about the larger game with anyone who likes your jam entry.
Authenticity Is Key
What people like about game jams is that none of the games are perfect. This is game developers showing the world they are human. “I’m going to work on this thing for only 48 hours, only a week, only a month. I’ll release it in whatever shape it’s in at that point.”
Typically, game development is about getting as close to perfect as possible before release. In general, that’s good, but it makes it harder for players to identify.
Game jams offer a unique peek behind the curtain that endears the developer to the audience. As a nice bonus, it’s a great chance to practice and make future projects even better. If you’ve been thinking of starting a game that will be a commercial product, a game jam might be the jump start you need. If you already have a project going, take a short break and let a game jam re-energize your team (even if that’s only you) while bringing new fans into the fold.