What is the DIA Game Jam?

A new experiment towards consistently making more games.

What is the DIA Game Jam?
Photo by Marek Piwnicki / Unsplash

Hello, there!

Hello friends! So glad you could make it. 

Wait, what is all this?

Good question. You're probably wondering about who we are and what we're trying to do. We'll give you a quick run-down to get started.

What is the DIA Game Club?

The DIA Game Club is a place where we geek out over games! We encourage making them but members are free to do other things like analyze their favorite games or draw fan art. 

A pixelated person in a kitchen.
Vanya's entry for Jam #4.

What is a game jam?

A game jam is a little party where you make games with other people. 

Text options for a player's school presentation.
A screenshot of Elizabeth's entry for Jam #3

Usually there are constraints such as a "cyberpunk baking" theme, or deadlines such as finishing a game within one weekend. These rules ensure that creators come up with strange and wonderful ideas and that nobody spends too long on any given part of the making process. 

What is the DIA Game Jam?

The DIA Game Jam is a modified version of the One Game A Month Jam. The basic rules are:

  • Each participant has 1 month to finish a deliverable (either a review or a game prototype). 
  • Each jam starts on the first day of the month and ends on the last day of the same month. 
  • Each jam has a theme or topic with an associated prompt as well as helpful constraints to follow. Submissions must follow the month’s theme, prompt, and constraints. 
  • Jams are asynchronous (no required meetings or anything like that) but participants are welcome to host a coworking session to work on games along with others. 
  • After each jam’s deadline we take some time to play other apprentices’ games, leave positive feedback for each other, and answer retrospective questions about how the jam went. 
A greyscale image of a pixelated person standing in a field.
A screenshot from Alex’s Jam #5 entry.

Our club’s format is unique in that we have two different focuses to choose from for each jam. 

What is the DIA Review Focus?

This is where we review games! Each review jam month a topic with an associated prompt is given. Participants then choose a game they like, or any of the 3 provided games, and then review the part of the game that corresponds to the topic and prompt. Additional constraints are provided to keep the workload manageable. 

For example, a given month’s topic may be “Crafting” and a prompt may be “Review the usability of a game’s crafting system.”

What is the DIA Making Focus?

This is where we make games! Each making month has a theme that all submitted games must incorporate. To help everyone focus on making smaller prototypes, mandatory constraints are given; i.e., don’t make the entirety of Pokémon in one go, make the walking mechanics first. 

Text appearing inside a video game as a character moves.
The opening scene of Justin's entry for Jam #1.

No coding experience is required to participate, but learning to code a little may be required depending on your game project’s complexity, the tool used to make your game, etc. If coding scares you, don’t worry; physical games such as pen and paper role-playing games are welcome, as long as a one-player option is available. 

Text describing someone's harrowing school day with a hyperlink at the bottom.
Alex's Twine entry for Jam #3. Twine is a low-code tool that we recommend total beginners start with.

To see what the DIA Making Jams are like, check out the post-mortems our members in the retrospectives for 2023’s making jams.

Game Jam Retrospective - DIA Design Guild
DIA Design Guild is a nonprofit charity organization intent on creating a space for people to explore creative and technical careers.

What does one get out of joining DIA's game jams?

The biggest benefit for participating in our jams is developing design and analysis skills through an approachable medium while practicing in a supportive environment.

A text parser game describing a sycamore tree.
Justin's entry for Jam #6.

Some of the possible gains for the review focuses include:

  • Gaining deeper insight into how games are made and experienced. 
  • Developing stronger analytical skills. 
  • Learning clearer ways of presenting information to third parties. 
  • Improving writing and communication skills. 

Some of the possible gains for the making focuses include:

  • Quickly gaining experience in game making.
  • Forming a habit of creating interactive prototypes. 
  • Learning to rapidly prototype concepts. 
  • Understanding how to develop a concept into implementation. 

Want to join us?

If you're a DIA apprentice or mentor, then come join us! See the server's information section for more details. 

And if you're not part of DIA... Don't fret! Membership is currently paused, but stay tuned by following DIA’s newsletter and LinkedIn for updates!

For any questions, please contact Justin Kim at justin@diadesign.io

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