The Best Way to Break Into Video Games

Geocachers make games at the April 2013 STL Game Jam

Geocachers make games at the April 2013 STL Game Jam

Video games are billion dollar industry. Traditional console games, mobile games, and online games attract millions of players, and more importantly, buyers, and tons of people want to get involved in the industry.

The single best way to get hired to make games is to make games of your own. And an easy way to start making your first game it to go to a game jam.

What’s a game jam?

A game jam is similar to a hackathon, except more specialized — you spend 48 hours making a short, playable game, generally around a central theme. Show up at the jam site on a Friday, divide up into teams, find out the theme, and get started creating your game. On Sunday afternoon or evening, everyone shows off their games to each other.

Why a game jam?

Game jams are a great way to get started creating your own games because there’s hardly any start up costs (jam sponsors provide the tools, as long as you have your own computer), and because you don’t need any experience to get started.

You’ll have access to tons of game developers who have more experience than you, and are happy to share that experience — that’s often why they are at the game jam.

You don’t have to know how to code or draw — you can write dialogue, create music, help with the initial concept, design levels. If you want to learn the programming side, you can use a game-building engine like Unity or GameSalad to help you create your game.

How do I find a game jam?

Many cities have regional game jams a few times a year. A good way to get started is to see if your town or city has a game developer meetup, or a chapter of the International Game Developer Association, and contact them with questions.

Plus, at the end of January every year is the Global Game Jam, the largest game creation event in the world.

At the 2014 Global Game Jam, 23,198 jammers at 488 sites in 72 countries created 4,290 games, surpassing the 2013 record of more than 16,000 jammers at 319 sites in 63 countries creating 3248 games. Jammers often spend the entire weekend at the game site, catching naps and sleep as they can. Food is often provided by sponsors.

The 2015 Global Game Jam will start at 5pm (in your time zone) on January 23rd and go for about 48 hours through January 25, 2015. For more detailed info, check out the Global Gam Jam site.

To break into making video games, make video games

The best part of a game jam isn’t the people you’ll meet or the things you’ll learn or the fun you’ll have. The best part is that when it’s over, you’ll have made a game. A game with your name on it, that you can show to prospective employers — some of whom you’ll have met at the game jam.

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