2024 Game Jam Calendar: Best Upcoming Game Jams
This is Part 1 of our three-part series helping devs prepare for 2024 game jams. Read Part 2, which looks at game jam ideas, and Part 3, which covers how to implement AI NPCs into your game jam projects.
Let’s be honest, game jams are pure chaos. Individuals or teams come together to frantically put together a game within a limited timeframe - often ranging from just a few hours to a few days. But they’re just the type of chaos many in the gaming industry love. These events don’t just foster creativity, collaboration, and rapid development, they encourage participants to brainstorm radically new ideas, design sometimes completely novel gameplay mechanics, and produce a playable game within the set timeframe.
The challenge (and fun!) of a game jam lies in its time constraints, pushing participants to innovate, experiment, and execute their ideas as swiftly as they can. For many, participating in game jams are a great chance to explore fresh concepts, experiment with new technologies, and push creative boundaries without the pressure of long-term commitments. Game jams also provide an opportunity to network with other developers, gain feedback on ideas, and showcase skills within a supportive community.
However, with hundreds of game jams happening worldwide, it's important to choose wisely which you plan on participating in. Ensuring that the game jam aligns with your skill set, goals, and creative inclinations is key.
This article aims to help you get ready for the 2024 game jam season by giving you an overview of different types of game jams, sharing a few of the best game jams, and providing you with a game jam calendar or two to follow so you’re up to date on all 2024 game jams as they’re announced.
Different types of game jams
Some game jams focus on specific themes, genres, or technological constraints, while others encourage experimentation and innovation without strict guidelines. Finding the right fit ensures participants can maximize their potential, leverage their strengths, and fully immerse themselves in the creative process.
- Online vs. in-person: Online game jams allow participation from anywhere with internet access, fostering global collaboration. In-person events offer immediate interaction and teamwork, promoting face-to-face brainstorming, and rapid iteration.
- Time length: Shorter jams, like 48-hour events, encourage quick prototyping and innovative ideas due to the time pressure. Longer jams, spanning weeks or months, permit deeper exploration and refinement. For instance, the Global Game Jam's 48-hour limit pushes teams to create playable games swiftly, emphasizing core mechanics and giving the teams with the most interesting concepts an advantage.
- Genre: Genre-specific jams challenge participants to create within defined genres like horror, puzzle, or adventure. Working within a genre constraint encourages creative solutions. A great example is the Ludum Dare which focuses on diverse themes within varying genres.
- Theme: Jams with predetermined themes offer a common thread for participants to interpret creatively. Themes can be broad, like the theme ‘roll of the dice’ in the 2022 Game Maker's Toolkit jam. Themes foster creative interpretations of the same theme while also providing a way to connect different entries.
- Platform/Medium: Jams might limit games to specific platforms or mediums (ex. mobile, VR, text-based). Constraints drive innovation, such as the PROCJAM (Procedural Generation Jam), which explores procedural content generation.
- Engine/Tools: Some jams restrict participants to specific game engines or development tools, encouraging mastery within those engines or tools. The Godot Wild Jam focuses on games produced by the Godot game engine, for example.
- Art style: Constraints in art style might involve using specific techniques (ex. pixel art, hand-drawn) or themes (ex. minimalistic, surreal). For example, the Pixel Game Jam is only looking for pixel art game submissions.
- Length of Game: Jams might specify game length, leading to experiences like micro-games or full-length adventures. For example, some games might have to be played within a minute or less making it particularly difficult for teams to create an impactful experience in so little time.
- Hybrid: Hybrid jams combine various constraints, merging genres, themes, or mechanics. These challenges, found at game jams like the MashUp Game Jam, encourage innovative blends of diverse elements.
- Completely open: Some jams have no restrictions, allowing complete creative freedom. You can create whatever kind of game you want.
Best 2024 game jam calendar
Whether you’re currently planning out your 2024 game jam schedule or just want to stay up-to-date so you’ll know when your favorite game jams list their 2024 dates or themes, there are two indispensable calendars to follow.
Both itch.io and Indie Game Jams are popular platforms offering comprehensive game jam calendars, showcasing a wide array of upcoming game jam events, each with its unique focus, themes, and constraints. Both platforms serve as valuable resources for the game development community, offering easily accessible information about upcoming game jams.
itch.io is the favorite game jam calendar of many game developers with an extensive collection of game jams, ranging from ongoing to upcoming events. Their game jam listings cover a diverse range of themes, durations, and formats, catering to participants of all skill levels and interests. The platform allows creators to browse, join, and submit entries seamlessly, fostering a vibrant community of game developers.
Indie Game Jams
Similarly, Indie Game Jams is a great game jam calendar as well as a dedicated platform for game jam enthusiasts. The Indie Game Jam site lists a diverse selection of jams from around the world, showcasing events with different durations, themes, and constraints. It’s a great centralized hub for developers to explore and engage in upcoming jams that cater to their interests.
Best 2024 game jams: Global Game Jam
- Link: Global Game Jam
- Overview: The Global Game Jam (GGJ) is a massive annual event that unites game developers, designers, artists, and enthusiasts worldwide. Over a frantic (and often sleepless) 48-hour period, participants create games from scratch based on a common theme disclosed at the event's start. The Global Game Jam fosters collaboration, experimentation, and creativity, resulting in an exciting array of games spanning various genres and styles.
- Why we love it: The Global Game Jam stands out for its unparalleled scale, bringing together a global community of game creators under one unified theme. Its emphasis on collaboration, rapid prototyping, and inclusivity creates an environment that encourages innovation and the exploration of new ideas. Additionally, the Global Game Jam’s accessibility is a selling point – they welcome both beginners and seasoned professionals. That makes it an exceptional event for learning, networking, and pushing creative boundaries within a compressed time frame.
Best 2024 game jams: Ludum Dare
- Link: Ludum Dare
- Overview: Ludum Dare is a popular recurring game jam event held multiple times per year. It challenges participants to create a game from scratch in a set timeframe, typically 48 or 72 hours. Ludum Dare encourages solo or team-based game development, focusing on innovation, creativity, and adherence to a given theme revealed at the jam's start. Participants worldwide compete and collaborate, showcasing their diverse game development skills.
- Why we love it: Ludum Dare earns its spot on this list due to its rich history of fostering creativity within strict time constraints. The event's emphasis on the individual interpretation of the same themes and the freedom to choose tools and platforms makes it appealing to a wide range of developers, from beginners to seasoned veterans. Ludum Dare's supportive community, feedback-based voting system, and post-jam feedback rounds contribute to an environment conducive to learning, growth, and the rapid iteration of game ideas.
Best 2024 game jams: Nordic Game Jam
- Link: Nordic Game Jam
- Overview: The Nordic Game Jam is a premier game jam held annually in Scandinavia, drawing participants from around the world. Focused on fostering innovation and creativity, this 48-hour event encourages game developers to collaborate, experiment, and create games centered around a disclosed theme. It offers a vibrant environment for networking, learning, and rapid game development while embracing diversity and inclusivity within the gaming community.
- Why we love it: The Nordic Game Jam stands out for its dynamic atmosphere. It attracts a diverse pool of participants ranging from industry professionals to newcomers. The event's integration of workshops, mentorship opportunities, and post-jam showcases further enriches the experience, making it a valuable platform for game developers to connect, learn, and create within a supportive and collaborative setting. Its commitment to fostering creativity and its impact on the game development community in the Nordic region and beyond solidify its position as a noteworthy game jam event.
Best 2024 game jams: Brackeys Game Jam
- Link: Brackeys Game Jam
- Overview: The Brackeys Game Jam, organized by the popular game development YouTube channel Brackeys, is an online game jam that challenges participants to create games within a specified timeframe, typically 7 days. This jam emphasizes inclusivity, creativity, and learning, welcoming developers of all skill levels. With a focus on a disclosed theme, participants showcase their game development prowess, experiment with new ideas, and share their creations within the community.
- Why we love it: The Brackeys Game Jam earns its place on this list due to its accessibility and community-driven approach. Its 7-day timeframe allows participants a bit more flexibility compared to shorter jams, fostering a balance between quality and innovation. Also, Brackeys' extensive reach within the game development community, coupled with the engaging nature of their YouTube content, attracts a diverse group of developers looking to learn, share, and create together. The jam's supportive environment, resources, and focus on the learning process make it an excellent entry point for aspiring game developers while also providing a platform for seasoned developers to experiment and showcase their skills.
Best 2024 game jams: Game Maker’s Toolkit Jam
- Link: Game Maker’s Toolkit Jam
- Overview: The Game Maker's Toolkit (GMTK) Jam, hosted by game design-focused YouTube channel GMTK, challenges game developers to create games within a limited timeframe, typically 48 hours. This jam places a strong emphasis on game design, encouraging participants to explore innovative mechanics, tackle specific design challenges, and craft games that prioritize gameplay innovation over graphical complexity. With a thematic constraint revealed at the start, developers worldwide dive into the creative process, focusing on delivering engaging and innovative gameplay experiences.
- Why we love it: The GMTK Jam earns its place on this list due to its laser focus on game design and mechanics. By placing gameplay innovation at the forefront, it encourages developers to think creatively and design games that prioritize engaging player experiences. The thematic constraints set by GMTK often lead to thought-provoking interpretations, fostering unique and experimental game designs. Additionally, the jam's focus on game design elements rather than technical prowess creates an accessible and inclusive environment for developers of all skill levels, allowing them to focus on creating innovative gameplay within a compressed time frame.
Best 2024 game jams: GitHub Game Off
- Link: GitHub Game Off
- Overview: The GitHub Game Off is an annual game jam hosted on the GitHub platform, inviting game developers to create games based on a disclosed theme within a specified timeframe, often a month. This jam emphasizes collaboration, creativity, and open-source development, encouraging participants to explore new ideas, experiment with game design, and showcase their projects using GitHub's collaborative tools. It provides a platform for developers to share, learn, and engage with a global community while fostering innovation and creativity in game development.
- Why we love it: The GitHub Game Off deserves recognition due to its integration of open-source practices and collaborative game development. By using GitHub's platform, it encourages open sharing, version control, and collaboration among developers, promoting transparency and knowledge-sharing within the community. The extended duration of the jam also allows for more ambitious projects and encourages ongoing iteration and improvement. Additionally, its focus on thematic exploration and the inclusive nature of open-source development makes it an accessible and inviting event for developers of all levels, contributing to the growth and diversity of the game development community.
Need help with 2024 game jam ideas?
Once you choose which 2024 game jams to participate in, you’ll have to come up with ideas for a wide variety of themes to make sure your game stands out. We’ve got you covered with two other articles in this series.
- Part 2: Brainstorm about game jam ideas! We’ll help you come up with great ideas, recommend some game jam idea generators, and share innovative concepts for 2024 game jam submissions.
- Part3: Want to play around with cutting-edge tech? We’ll help you add generative AI-powered NPCs to your game jam games.