Learn programming at Open Jam 2022

Play to win, or play to play, in the game jam that promotes open source.
5 readers like this.
Announcing Open Jam

Michael Clayton.

Open Jam game jam is happening from October 28 to November 9 this year. Every year for the past several years, programmers from around the globe build open source video games, and then play and rate one another's games. Just for fun.

Open Jam is a "game jam," which is a casual way to inspire programmers of all skill levels to focus on a just-for-fun project for a concentrated period of time. It promotes open source games as well as open source game creation tools. While participants aren't required to use open source tools to create their game, the games themselves must bear an open license, and you literally get extra points during the scoring round for using open source tools.

Another important aspect of the jam, for me, is that it promotes alternate win conditions, but not in the way you might think.

Alternate win conditions

When you play a game, there's almost always something called a win condition. That's the thing that, when it happens, identifies the winner of the game. It could be that you capture the other player's King, or that you acquire 10 points before anyone else does, or that you have a better hand of cards than anyone else at the table.

Traditional games usually have a single win condition. When a specific thing happens, there's a single winner and the game is over. A modern trend in gaming, though, allows for multiple win conditions. Maybe you either secure 3 safehouses, or you find a cure for the virus that's started the zombie apocalypse. Maybe you find the buried treasure or seize the enemy pirate ship.

Mischief Maker, from Open Jam 2020

(Astropippin, CC BY-SA 4.0)

What's always been true, though, is that each player can have a secret, private, personal win condition. This is hard for some people to understand, depending on how competitive you are, but not everyone plays a game to win. There are a lot of modern games that are just fun to play. Maybe the theme of the game is comforting or inspiring, making it fun to just spend time in the world. Or maybe the game makes you feel like you're actively solving a puzzle, and whether you solve that puzzle faster or more efficiently than somebody else doesn't satisfy you nearly as much as the act of searching for the solution. Or a game might have interesting mechanics you enjoy using in the most inventive ways you can think of.

Open Jam is the same way. As a programmer, you're free to participate in Open Jam whether or not you're hoping to win first place, or any place at all for that matter. Your "win condition" for your Open Jam experience can be anything:

  • Learn a new programming language

  • Learn a new game engine

  • Actually finish a project

  • Make a fun game for your child or a younger sibling

  • Experiment with the concept of what a "game" can be

  • Write some code without over-thinking it

  • Give yourself a reason to order pizza for every meal while guiltlessly sitting at your computer for an entire weekend

Those are just a few ideas, and looking at past Open Jams reveal that a lot of programmers who participated probably had their own win conditions for the jam weekend. There are quirky games, there are short games, impossible games, esoteric games. There are adventure games and platformers and shooters. Games written on Godot, and with Python, and JavaScript, and Java. Some games you probably only need to play once, and other games you might keep going back to. There's a lot on offer from each Open Jam.

Join Open Jam 2022

If you're interested in programming but haven't been able to find the right project, or you've been afraid to start a big project, then writing a bite-sized game for Open Jam 2022 could be just the challenge you've been looking for. Be sure to bring a couple of your own win conditions, and make sure one of them is to "have fun."

What to read next
Seth Kenlon
Seth Kenlon is a UNIX geek, free culture advocate, independent multimedia artist, and D&D nerd. He has worked in the film and computing industry, often at the same time.

1 Comment

Alternate win conditions are a great pairing with branching narratives that have more than one possible ending.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.