FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - 2016
(also see GGJ Wiki archive / GGJ Manual)
Who is this site for?
This website is for the Global Game Jam. It is used to direct people to information about individual game jams around the world, to collaborate, and to get excited about the upcoming event. It is also used to upload, modify and archive games produced by GGJ participants for GGJ events. If you want to participate in the Game Jam, you will need to create an account and affiliate with a location – sign-up for site-creation will be available from October 2015, and then individual jammers can start signing up later, as nominated by their local site. If you are a site manager (site registration usually opens in October), your account and instructions should be mailed to you by GGJ organizers.
What is a Game Jam?
"Jam" is a reference to musician jam sessions, not traffic or spreadable fruit.
The goal is to come together and make a video game, or non-digital game like a board game or card game. Participants rapidly prototype game designs and hopefully inject new ideas to help grow the game industry. We share a common theme and constraints. We ask participants to create a game from beginning to end in a prescribed time (maximum of 48 hours). The brief time span is meant to help encourage creative thinking to result in small but innovative and experimental games.
What is the Global Game Jam?
The GGJ brings together talented individuals from within your community. It is a unique opportunity for people to push their skills and challenge their way of working. Participants work concurrently with developers around the globe; we rally around a central theme, and then have 48 hours to create a game. It's our hope that we will see some very experimental realized prototypes that you can continue to work on after the jam. Many games developed in previous Game Jams have become fully realized games. The GGJ is open source, hardware & software agnostic and all projects are protected under a Creative Commons license. We encourage people to try out new ideas and push themselves, within reason. We also strongly encourage participants to remember to eat and sleep, to stay at their best!
When is the Global Game Jam?
The GGJ is an annual event. The 2016 GGJ will start at 5pm (in your time zone) on January 29 and goes for ~48 hours through January 31, 2016.
What are the important dates for the Global Game Jam?
Here they are:
- October 1, 2015: End of the early-bird sponsorship special
- October, 2015: globalgamejam.org open to accept new jam site applications
- November, 2015: globalgamejam.org open for jammer sign ups
- January 2, 2016: regular jam site registration period ends
- January 16, 2016: late jam site registration period ends
- Week of January 29, 2015: GGJ 2015 starts worldwide.
Is GGJ an online jam?
No, you need to sign up at one of the many, many local sites around the world in over 75 countrie and participate on-site together with all other registered participants. There you will form teams and create a game over the weekend.
What is the official hashtag for GLOBAL GAME JAM 2016?
Is there just one theme?
Yes, all locations all over the world share the same theme for the jam.
I want to know the theme!
The theme is announced at each local jam site after 5pm local time on Friday. Timezones from New Zealand to Hawaii are all participating. As we aim for all jammers to have the same experience we asked everyone to keep the global theme a secret until the last region (Hawaii) starts. We announce the theme on our website and social media after Hawaii.
For themes from past years, see the Global Game Jam History.
Do I need to come to GGJ with a team already formed?
Do not come to the Jam with a team. Everyone will have some time to think and pitch an idea. Collaborate with new friends or peers you admire.
Do I need special skills to participate in the GGJ?
Although having computer skills is helpful, code experience is not necessary. Designers, developers, artists and anyone is welcome to try their hand at making a game during the GGJ. Even if you have no expereince at all, you can still participate by contributing ideas, playtesting, and giving moral support to your team.
Global Game Jam encourages innovation, experimentation and collaboration and encourages both digital and non-digital forms of game making.
Is the GGJ only for professionals?
No. Everyone is welcome.
I am a participant at [insert local site] do I need to register on the global site?
What are the absolute requirements to host a location (jam site)?
- At least one local official organizer to coordinate the event. The organizer must be a part of all email correspondence, participate on Slack (for project management and communication) and oblige us with meeting all due dates.
- Secure physical space for the duration of the jam to comfortably seat participants. You can choose how small or large you want your event.
- Reliable Internet access (either wired or wireless) for all participants.
Are there any other requirements to host a location (jam site)?
A jam site does not require these items for being part of the Global Game Jam, but are niceties you might want to consider for your participants as well:
- Access to all space and computing resources around the clock over the weekend of the GGJ. You can still hold a jam if you do not have 24 hour access to the space, but you should communicate the opening/closing hours to your participants well before the date.
- Local IT support in case of problems with computers or internet connectivity.
- Coffee and beverages & easy access to food.
- Access to common game development tools and/or ability to download and install software. You might want to download this software onto machines or thumbdrives before the GGJ date to ease the use of the networks at the beginning of the event. Also be aware of the resources many companies make available to jammers, listed here.
- Auditorium space to do an initial gathering on Friday, and post-Jam presentation on Sunday of the Jam.
- Security (safeguard against theft of belongings).
The GGJ will provide you with tools to organize your local event, hands-on guidance before & during the Global Game Jam, a web page on the GGJ site, local & international promotion etc. For more information on hosting a site, check the manual.
Why is the GGJ held often at many universities?
Schools have access to large labs and space that are not always available at studios. Educational institutions also have the best access to broadband Internet. But there is nothing exclusive about location types. Companies, Game collectives, community meetups and other types of venues are all welcome.
What is the typical day to day schedule for the GGJ?
The actual schedule may vary from one site to another, but generally it will go something like this:
Day 1 – Arrival
* Group forming
14.00-19.00: Check in
14.00-15.00: Tech/Art Talks
15.00-16.00: Tech/Art Talks
17.00-18.00: Announcements & Keynote
18.00 -?: Group Forming
Social "Get to Know Each Other" exercises
Day 2 – Work
11:00 Deadline to create user profile and game page
18:00-19:00: Playtesting each other's games
Day 3- Work
15.00-16.30: Deadline for handing in the games is 15.00
16.30-19.00: Presentations – Each team has 10 minutes to do a short presentation
How do I log into the site?
You sign up on the site as an individual. Registration for jammers normally open in mid-November. Create a new account or login using Facebook connect here.
How do I tell the system my location and full name information?
Every user must fill out a profile which is available from your account page. The profile asks for your full name and has a drop-down menu to choose your location. Additionally, you can write a public biography about yourself under "My account".
My Jam Site isn’t in the list of locations in my profile!
Locations are created by a site organizer. Talk to your site organizer (your local Jam organizer) and ask him/her to create the location. Once the location is created, you can fill out your profile and choose it.
I am the site organizer, how do I register my location?
Site registration usually opens in October 4th. In the meantime, you may wish to read the manual to be prepared.
While registration is open, in order to list your location we need you to do the following:
1) go to http://globalgamejam.org and create a new account – you will receive your password via email.
2) once you get your email and sign-in to the page, Select "Jam Site 2016" from the Navigation menu on the top/right.
3) Follow the directions – fill out up-to-date and correct information. Make sure you understand and acknowledge your responsibilities as an organizer. You may come back and update the public details any time.
4) Once you fill out the application for a Jam Site, it will be up for review by a GGJ regional organizer who will then get in touch with you. This might take a few days to a week. The reasons that we have an approval process is to make sure we do not get duplicates for the same location, and that the organizers understand GGJ values and responsibilities. We really are trying to push for community and collaboration and trying to avoid having multiple locations in the same vicinity. If you see that a location is already posted in your city, please contact us and we will try to help you collaborate with the other location. Note, many major urban areas will have more than one location. You can see a list of approved Jam sites if you click on the “Locations” icon at the top of the page, which goes to: http://globalgamejam.org/locations.
5) After your Jam Site is approved, go to your account page and update your profile (under “My account” → edit) and specify the Jam site. Please also direct all your local Jammers to make accounts and create profiles as well.
6) Once you've created a GGJ page for your site, you can use it to link to your own webpage for your site, or you can use GGJ website to handle your sign-ups, etc… Participant sign-ups usually open around November 15th or so. Even if you have your own webpage for signups, all of your jammers must register at globalgamejam.org as well, by the Saturday of the jam itself.
I am a site organizer, how do I create team accounts?
There are no team accounts. Only individual accounts that are associated with location and game projects. All jammers and organizers must have them.
Who owns the intellectual property of games made during GGJ?
The team/makers of the game hold all IP rights. However, the Global Game Jam may use the games for demonstration as it sees fit. All games must be posted in the condition they are in as of the close of the GGJ event (Sunday), including both executable and source code (or equivalent). All participants and all games entered for GGJ must agree to a Creative Commons, share, alter, no sell license. Third party tools and software may be used in the projects and need not be uploaded or shared. Clear instructions must be provided as to how to obtain and install any third party software that is necessary for further development.
Please note that creative commons license has been updated to a version 4 since this page was made, so you can either choose the above v3 license or go with this v4 Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 version.
See also: the License and Distribution Agreement.
Is there a cut-off date as to when we can join the Global Game Jam?
Site registration normally opens in October 4th, and we encourage all sites to sign up by November 15th. After December 1st, it may be more difficult to register. Because there is a fair amount of preparation needed to put together a jam, we think you should plan as far ahead as possible and register before December 1st.
The Global Game Jam is supposed to be fun and collaborative, with a goal to keep things very simple. We provide structure, guidance and help for all locations participating in the GGJ. As a rule, we expect that no team/makers of a game will illegally exploit others' IP, and that in turn, everything created becomes part of the public domain. All participants agree that their participation in the Global Game Jam will hold no one liable for any loss or damage.
The Global Game Jam reserves the right to refuse to allow anyone or any jam location to participate at any time for any reason or no reason at all. This includes after the game jam has already started.
Inclusiveness Policy, Code of Conduct, & Feedback Form
In addition to Global Game Jam being fun and collaborative, we also want to keep it safe and open to all. Please review our Inclusiveness Policy and Code of Conduct to learn more about our expectations for the community both online and at jam locations. Any questions, comments, concerns or reports can be sent through the Global Game Jam Feedback Form.
"I can't make it to any of the Global Game Jam sites this year. Can I participate remotely from home?"
Remote participation is a topic that comes up every year. Should we support a "virtual" GGJ location for people who can't make it, or otherwise allow people to host a "site" that's just them in their basement? People always ask, and we always discuss, and we always come to the same answer.
Participating in GGJ from home is sort of like listening to a tape recording of a concert. Yes, you can get the general idea, but it isn't even CLOSE to the experience of being there in person. It is not uncommon for a group of determined jammers to cross state or country lines, sometimes traveling hundreds of miles, to reach a jam site. These experiences are awesome to hear about, and the GGJ would be less special if they didn't happen. And let's be honest, if it were too easy to just participate from home, far too many people would use that as an excuse to not show up to a site. And the GGJ experience would be far poorer for it. So, we do actively discourage this practice. Make the effort to get to a site. Trust us, you'll be glad you did.
"But the nearest site is too far away / I don't have any way to get there / all the sites near me all full already / I'm sick in bed / the dog ate my development laptop / some other perfectly legitimate reason. Is there any way I can be part of this event?"
Yes, absolutely! First, if you really do have a legitimate reason why you can't get to your nearest site, you can at least contact the site organizer by email and explain the situation. Some local organizers will allow remote jammers in extreme locations; you'd be counted as being "part of" their site, and that organizer would take personal responsibility for including you as if you were on site. Because this is a bit of extra organizational work that primarily benefits you more than the site, we leave this up to the discretion of the individual hosts. So ask nicely, and be gracious even if they say no. (If the site near you is full and not accepting further registrations, you can still email the host and nicely ask if you can show up anyway. No-shows are common, and some hosts might allow you to sneak in and take the place of someone else who registered but never showed up.)
Second, watch Twitter during the event. Send out a tweet using an appropriate hashtag, saying that you are volunteering to do some extra work (playtesting, art, audio, or whatever) for any team that needs your services. With thousands of teams participating, at least one of them may take you up on the offer. You can also hop into the global IRC chat and do the same.
Third, you can participate after the fact by downloading the games and leaving thoughtful comments, feedback, and encouragement for the developers and other future visitors.
Fourth, once we broadcast the theme and diversifiers publicly (we do this once the people in the final time zone have started work), there's nothing stopping you from just jamming on your own from home, just for fun. Sure, you're not part of a team, and you won't be able to upload your game to the GGJ website... but you're already missing out on a large part of the experience anyway, so this shouldn't be a huge disaster for you.
For next year (and beyond) there are many things you can do. If the site near you was full, then next year mark your calendar and sign up earlier - we typically open registration in November, so often all it takes is not waiting too long. If there is no site near you, consider becoming a site organizer yourself, and make your own site! All you need is physical space, electricity, a couple of participants and a desire to help out. Site registrations typically open in October, so watch our website around that time for the big announcement. If you only found out about GGJ a few days before the event and it was too late to do anything this year, then now you're forewarned and you'll have plenty of time to prepare for next year. Or, if you want to jam on your own from home because that's your personal preference, there are other wonderful events that actively encourage you to do so (the largest being Ludum Dare) and we would encourage you to give those a try.
Who are the 2016 sponsors?
You can see the sponsor list here.
What software should I use to make a game?
You can develop using any tools for any platform that you want. If you don't know where to start, check here for a list of Jammer Resources. The list contains some special deals such as free software downloads for all GGJ participants, and community-made lists of other resources, and is definitely worth checking out!
I'm a member of the game press / media. How can I contact GGJ?
Our press page is here.
Can I make a board game, card game or other physical game instead of a video game?
Yes! Global Game Jam does support the making of non-digital games. Talk to your local site organizer. Some hints for how to do this can be found here.
How can I make my game accessible to gamers with disabilities?
Over 20% of gamers have some kind of impairment that may affect their ability to play a game. Avoiding the barriers they face not only means more players, it also makes a real difference to people's quality of life. Independent access to recreation, culture and socialising may not be easily available, and games can provide that.
There are four main types of impairment. Considerations for them range in complexity and not all are appropriate to all game mechanics. but whichever one/s you choose to design for, there's a huge opportunity for innovation, new approaches that haven't been tried before.
Visual (ability to see)
Example conditions: color blindness, glaucoma, myopia
Example considerations: Reinforcing color information with symbol or shape, ensuring large clear visuals and text, audio game with no reliance on visuals
Motor (ability to operate a controller)
Example conditions: RSI, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's
Example considerations: Remappable controls, simple/one button controls, no reliance on precise timing or accurate movement
Hearing (ability to hear)
Example conditions: presbycusis, auditory processing disorder, otosclerosis
Example considerations: Subtitles, separate volume for background/effects/speech, visual representation of important gameplay sounds
Cognitive (ability to understand, remember, process information)
Example conditions: aspergers, dyslexia, global developmental delay
Example considerations: dismiss text on button press rather than a timer, ingame contextual help/guidance, option to turn off all non-interactive elements
For more ideas and inspiration, see the Game Accessibility Guidelines website.
Most importantly though, list all accessibility features on your game's GGJ page, to let players know that your game is suitable for them.