Game jams are a great way to inspire creativity in a market full of games rehashing themes and mechanics, according to Double Fine Productions' senior gameplay programmer Anna Kipnis.
Speaking at a panel today during the 2013 Game Developers Conference, Kipnis said Molyjam, a jam inspired by the tweets of the Peter Molyneux parody account Peter Molydeux, created an environment that inspired participants to work on new things and power through writer's block. According to Kipnis, game jams open the door for aspiring developers and invite new people with new perspectives into the creative force.
"There's not a lot of diversity in terms of life experience within our industry, and that is partially reflected in our output," she said. "[Molyjam] had participants of all races, gender and backgrounds coming in, and many had never worked on games before."
Kipnis shared ideas for groups wanting to create their own jams. She said a successful jam needs a good theme "that everyone knows and likes." Themes should give good direction but leave much open to interpretation by participants. Kipnis also recommended jam organizers contact companies to get temporary licenses for game engines and hold jams in venues with enough power, internet access and water to keep participants working comfortably.
Kipnis sparked the idea for a game jam based on tweets from the Peter Molydeux Twitter account, tweeting early last year that such an event "needs to happen." Molyjam took place on March 31 and April 1, with Peter Molyneux in attendance at the jam's London branch. In two weeks, 32 cities joined the jam, with over 1,000 people physically attending and tens of thousands of people watched the jam streamed live over the internet. Kipnis said that Molyneux was "incredibly supportive."
has there already been an indie game jam where each team picks an idea from @petermolydeux and goes for it?it needs to happen.— Anna Kipnis (@doubleanna) March 13, 2012
Kipnis said the next Molyjam will "hopefully happen later this year."