Here’s What We Know About the Ludum Dare Game Jam at BoiseCodeWorks this Weekend

From this Friday to Sunday, BoiseCodeWorks will be hosting Ludum Dare 33, an international game jam (aka, a hackathon for indie game development).

We’ve never hosted one of these before, so we wanted to take the opportunity to explain a bit about the event, because it turns out Ludum Dare is actually a big deal in gaming circles (don’t be fooled by the odd name), and it can be a lot of fun. Here are six things we know:

1. Game jams are fun.

Participants have the weekend to create a game from scratch. At 7pm Friday evening, Ludum Dare’s online community will post a theme that will guide the creation of games over the weekend. This is the 33rd Ludum Dare game jam (they are held 3 times a year), and previous themes have included “An Unconventional Weapon,” “Escape,” and “Advancing Wall of Doom.” Some people will participate solo, while others will join together to work as a team. Some people will just work on their games from home.

The game jam will conclude at 7pm Sunday evening, when teams will submit what they’ve created. The submissions are then evaluated online, and the winner is announced about a month later.

2. Anyone can participate (not just developers). In fact, diverse backgrounds are key to a successful team.

There is a lot that goes into the making of a game. Obviously, an important piece of the process is the game developers who understand how to work with various development tools like physics engines. But there’s also need for programmers and level designers, concept artists, 2D and 3D artists, people who can create music and sound effects, and writers who can craft storylines and narratives for games.”

Having diverse backgrounds at a game jam results in more robust, interesting, and well-rounded games. Also, there is no need to start right at 7PM on Friday — if you’re just curious, feel free to come by any time on Saturday or Sunday.

3. The words “Ludum Dare” mean “to give a game” in Latin.

We were just curious, so we’re assuming you were too.

4. It’s a fun, casual (for most people), and experimental event.

The atmosphere is pretty relaxed and experimental, unless you’re one of the few teams that is trying to win the competition. The event is as much about welcoming new people into the gaming community as it is about cranking out the best possible game.

“Ludum Dare will have many thousands of entries this year — each one a game concept that you can freely play on line. As a game developer we use this opportunity to experiment with concepts and themes that we normally wouldn’t.”
- Michael Wilson, President of PonyWolf
(A Boise-based game development firm — more about them here.)

5. There aren’t a ton of rules to worry about.

A. Respect the BoiseCodeWorks campus (clean up after yourself and don’t damage anything).
B. No alcohol or drugs of any kind.
C. Participants are welcome to sleep at BCW if they bring their own sleeping bags. Participants are NOT required to sleep at our venue during the game jam.
D. Participants can work from home during the game jam.
E. Don’t steal intellectual property from other games.
F. Make sure you review Ludum Dare’s official rules here: http://ludumdare.com/compo/rules/.

6. It can launch your career in game dev, and some recognizable names have participated (like the creator of Minecraft).

Ludum Dare can be a big opportunity in the field of game development, and many games (and game creators) have gone on to big things. The worldwide audience for Ludum Dare has grown significantly in recent years, and participants can get their games viewed by thousands of people now. These game jams are held all over the world, from Beijing to Belarus to South Africa.

“Ludum Dare and all game jams are the fast track to success in game development. Even Markus Persson (aka “Notch”), the creator of Minecraft, made games for the Ludum Dare game jam before making Minecraft, the most popular title in independent gaming history.”
-Ryan Zehm, Idaho Game Developers Group

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If you have any questions, please feel free to email support@boisecodeworks.com. We encourage anyone and everyone to stop by, ask questions, and maybe find a team to help out!